The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to designate critical habitat in Miami-Dade County, Florida for the Miami tiger beetle, a species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in October 2016. The Service is also announcing the availability of a draft economic analysis of the proposed critical habitat designation.
“Only two small populations of the rare Miami tiger beetle still survive in its pine rockland habitat,” said Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, Service Regional Director. “Listing the species as endangered in 2016 was the first step to ensure its continued survival and conserve its shrinking habitat. Proposing critical habitat is another crucial step.”
The Miami tiger beetle is one of the smallest tiger beetles in the U.S. and is only found in Miami-Dade County, Florida. It thrives in the imperiled pine rocklands ecosystem that is unique to southern Florida and the Bahamas. As development, encroaching vegetation and impacts ofhave persisted, this ecosystem has faced major losses. An estimated 98% of the historical pine rockland habitat within Miami-Dade County outside of Everglades National Park has been destroyed and this habitat loss is expected to continue. The small population size of this species and its restricted range adds to the severity of these threats.
When a species is listed under the ESA, the Service is required, where possible, to identify areas essential to the conservation of that species, known as critical habitat. The areas selected for designation are selected using the best available scientific data. In total, approximately 1,977 acres in Miami-Dade County, Florida, fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation.
The units being proposed for critical habitat include areas that were occupied by the Miami tiger beetle at the time of listing in 2016. Additionally, some units outside the current occupied areas are being proposed for designation. The unoccupied units being proposed are within the historical range of this species, contain suitable pine rockland habitat and essential physical and biological features, and have been determined to be essential for the conservation of this species.
The two units that were occupied at the time of listing in 2016 account for approximately 1,572 acres or 80% of the proposed critical habitat. The remaining 14 units total 405 acres, with only 16 acres of that not currently designated as critical habitat for other federally listed species. Overall, 57% of Miami tiger beetle proposed critical habitat is found on county lands, 25% on federal lands, 12% on state lands, and 7% on private lands.
Critical habitat designation requires federal agencies to ensure that actions they plan to undertake, fund or authorize do not destroy or adversely modify that habitat. It does not establish a wildlife refuge, allow the government or public to access private lands or require non-federal landowners to restore habitat or recover species.
As required by the ESA, the Service assessed the economic impacts of this proposed critical habitat designation. The draft economic assessment found minimal costs associated with this proposed designation, limited to additional administrative costs for considering adverse modification of the beetle’s habitat duringconsultations.
The Service intends that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific data available. Therefore, we request comments or information from other concerned governmental agencies, Native American Tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule. Submissions merely stating support for, or opposition to, the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination.
For directions on how to submit comments, visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R4–ES–2021–0053, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Comments must be received by November 8, 2021. We must receive requests for a public hearing, in writing, at the address shown below by October 22, 2021.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Roxanna Hinzman, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Ecological Services Field Office,1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960; telephone 772–562–3909. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339.
Frequently Asked Questions PDF available here: https://www.fws.gov/verobeach/NewsReleasesPDFS/FAQs_Miami Tiger Beetle pCH.pdf