Critical habitat decision for the Cape Sable seaside sparrow excludes areas proposed in draft.
Earlier this week, the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service issued its final rule designating revisions to the critical habitat of the Cape Sable seaside sparrow (CSSS), an endangered species with habitat entirely within Everglades National Park. The most significant conclusion in the Final Rule was FWS's decision to invoke the Secretary’s discretion, under ESA section 4(b)(2), to exclude portions of the previously proposed critical habitat. As FWS further explained in its Frequently Asked Questions publication:
Given the uncertainties in the historical conditions and vegetation changes that will be caused by Everglades restoration in this area, we do not believe designating fixed habitat lines was a sensible restoration and recovery strategy. Furthermore, the areas supporting sparrows west of Shark River Slough fall exclusively within the boundaries of Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. As a result, these locations will continue to receive significant protections now and in the future even without the critical habitat designation. After a careful weighing of the benefits of designating versus excluding subpopulation A, we determined the benefits of exclusion were significantly greater. In addition, we do not believe the remaining areas of critical habitat are likely to significantly affect CERP.
CSSS photo by David LaPuma, available at FWS South Florida Ecological Services Office
- U.S. FWS Vero Beach office, sparrow information webpage
- U.S. FWS Vero Beach office, Multi-Species Recovery Plan for South Florida
- Final Rule Designating Revised CSSS Critical Habitat, as published in the Federal Register
- Amended BiOp re: CSSS issued to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Interim Operational Plan in the Southern Everglades (March 28, 2002)
- Law Review Article on the CSSS: The Everglades in Jeopardy