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Tree-like coral under what looks like snow from spawning coral.
Elkhorn coral spawning. Photo by Brett Seymore, National Park Service.

Coral reef commons draft habitat conservation plan available for public review and comment

Vero Beach, Florida – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comments on a developer’s plan to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to eight threatened, endangered, and at-risk species in Miami-Dade County. The plan is part of a process to clear the way for construction to begin on a 137-acre residential and commercial project in south Miami.

Public comments will be considered on the draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and associated Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed Coral Reef Commons development over the next 60 days. A final decision to issue incidental take permit (ITP) to the applicants will follow.

The ITP would cover Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak butterfly, Florida leafwing butterfly, Florida bonneted bat, eastern indigo snake, rim rock crowned snake, gopher tortoise, Miami tiger beetle and white-crowned pigeon.

The draft HCP includes commitments to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts, including on-site habitat management to maintain the covered species, as well as protection and management of off-site restoration lands to benefit the covered species. Several measures, such as controlled burns, are designed to conserve listed plants in the area that are not included in the ITP. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) doesn’t require take authorization for listed plants on private property.

The HCP is a flexible tool that is part of an application for an ITP from the Service available through the ESA. The duration requested for this permit is 30 years from the date of issuance.

The EA is required by the National Environmental Policy Act and briefly discusses the purpose and need for this action, alternatives to the action, and provides evidence and analysis of impacts to determine whether to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement or Finding of No Significant Impact.

The applicants for this HCP include Coral Reef Retail LLC, Coral Reef Resi Ph I LLC, Ramdev LLC, and the University of Miami. The Coral Reef Commons Project includes 137.9 acres of a proposed mixed-use development (residential and commercial), including 55.29 acres of on-site mitigation on the CRC Property, as well as 50.96 acres of off-site mitigation, for a total of 106.25 acres of mitigation.

Submitting Comments

The public is invited to submit comments on the draft Coral Reef Commons HCP and EA 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Written comments can be submitted by one of the following methods:

David Dell
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Southeast Region, Ecological Services
1875 Century Boulevard
Atlanta GA 30345

Ashleigh Blackford
South Florida Ecological Services Office
1339 20th Street
Vero Beach FL 32960

The draft HCP and EA can be viewed on web at https://www.fws.gov/verobeach/20170323CRCNR.html

Documents

Draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)

Environmental Assessment (EA)

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact

Ken Warren, USFWS
(772) 469-4323

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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