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North Florida Field Office

For Immediate Release

Date: November 27, 2000

Media Contact: Chuck Underwood 904/731-3332

Public input sought on potential refuges and sanctuaries for Florida manatees

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently evaluating the need for additional refuges and sanctuaries for the Florida manatee throughout peninsular Florida.

An Advance Notice of Proposed Rule-Making, announcing the Service's intent to evaluate and, if appropriate, propose designation of manatee protection areas (refuges and sanctuaries) was published in the Federal Register on September 1, 2000.

Manatee refuges are areas where certain waterborne activities are restricted or prohibited. Sanctuaries are areas in which all waterborne activities are prohibited. The Service is assessing the needs of the manatee at an ecosystem level to ensure adequate protected areas are available to satisfy its biological needs.

Public workshops will be held throughout peninsular Florida and will run from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. These workshops will afford the general public and interested parties an opportunity to hear information, ask questions informally, and make formal comments. Public workshops will be held at the following locations:

Crystal River, Florida, on Monday, December 4 at Plantation Inn Conference Center, 9301 West Fort Island Trail

Fort Myer, Florida, on Tuesday, December 5 at Harborside Convention Hall, 1375 Monroe Street

St. Petersburg, Florida, on Wednesday, December 6 at Florida Marine Research Institute, 100 Eighth Avenue, Southeast

Miami, Florida, on Monday, December 11, 2000 at University of Miami's Rosentiel School of Marine Sciences, 4600 Rukinbacker Causeway

Palatka, Florida, on Wednesday, December 13, 2000, at Holiday Inn Conference Center,201 North 1st Street

Viera, Florida, on Thursday, December 14, 2000 at Brevard County Government Complex, 2725 Judge Fran Jamison Way, Building C, Board Room

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Services manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 520 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices, 64 Fishery Resource Offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

- FWS -

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