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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Requests Public Comment on Corbett Wildlife Management Area Land Proposal


January 7, 2005

Jeff Fleming,


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said today it will make available for public comment an Environmental Assessment that examines the proposal to transfer easements on approximately 30 acres of land at J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to Palm Beach County, Florida.

The Service is seeking public comment on the detailed planning document through February 14, 2005. The Assessment and related materials can be viewed at the Palm Beach County Facilities Development & Operations Administrative Office, 3200 Belvedere Road, Building 1169, West Palm Beach, North County Regional Library, 11303 Campus Drive, Palm Beach Gardens, the Royal Palm Beach Branch Library, 500 Civic Center Way, or obtained by visiting

Palm Beach County asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to consider transferring five easements covering approximately 30 acres of land, of the more than 60,000 acres that it owns and manages as the Corbett WMA, to the County. The FWC would retain fee simple title to the lands covered under the proposal. The County, with the FWC’s concurrence, has determined that these easements would facilitate infrastructure needs for the development of the 1,919-acre Palm Beach County Biotechnology Research Park, formerly known as Mecca Farms, which is adjacent to the Corbett WMA. The new facility would be anchored by The Scripps Research Institute’s east coast facilities.

To compensate for the loss of wildlife conservation values of these lands, the County proposes to transfer 60 acres of wildlife habitat adjacent to the Corbett WMA in Martin County and to the FWC and Corbett WMA.

The Corbett WMA was purchased beginning in 1956 in part with federal funds generated to benefit wildlife conservation values under the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. The FWC has determined that the proposed uses in the County’s request are incompatible with the purpose for which those lands were acquired. Incompatible use requests for State-owned wildlife conservation lands acquired with funds generated under the Act must be independently approved by the FWC, the Acquisition and Restoration Council, the Board of Trustees, and the Service.

The EA made available today is an important part of the Service’s effort to provide the public with opportunities to get involved in evaluating the proposal.

The Service is accepting mailed or electronically submitted comments on the evaluation and EA until February 14, 2005; directions for submitting comments by standard mail or electronic mail are provided in the EA and Notice of Availability. The Service will host an open-house style public information meeting February 2, 2005, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Western Pines Middle School, 5949 140th Avenue North, Royal Palm Beach, FL.

The Service has established a toll free telephone line at 1-877-256-5073, for technical questions related to the evaluation and EA.

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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 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 Assistance program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.


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