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September 1, 2000 Contact:

Tom MacKenzie, 404/ 679-7291

Kyla Hastie, 706/ 613-9493 Ex 36


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extended the public comment period until October 30, 2000, on its draft proposal to designate critical habitat for the wintering population of an imperiled shorebird, the piping plover. The extension gives people time to examine and respond to a recently released draft economic report that provides an initial description of potential economic impacts associated with designation of critical habitat for this species.

An economic report is prepared for any proposed critical habitat designation. A critical habitat designation only applies to situations where Federal funding, Federal authorization or a Federal permit is involved. Even in cases where private lands are designated, it has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not involve Federal funding, authorization or permits.

"We already review Federal projects to ensure that they do not significantly harm this threatened species, and this proposed critical habitat designation should not change the outcome of that review process in the Southeast," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director.

Copies of the draft economic report are available on the internet at http:\\southeast.fws.gov or by contacting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Field Supervisor at Ecological Services Field Offices, c/o TAMU-CC, Campus Box 38, 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas, 78412. Comments may also be sent electronically to winterplovercomments@fws.gov or by facsimile to (361) 994-8262.

A complete description of the proposed critical habitat designation for the wintering population of piping plovers was published in the Federal Register on July 6, and the notice of extension of the public comment period was published on August 30, 2000. Comments previously submitted during the comment period need not be resubmitted. They will be incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in the final determination on the proposal.

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 Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of 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.


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2000 News Releases

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