New biological opinion on ACF watershed disappoints Florida leaders
Earlier today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its new biological opinion evaluating the effects of Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint watershed management on endangered species, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. The biop concluded that the Interim Operations Plan would not "appreciably reduce the likelihood that the four listed species can survive nor would it preclude their future recovery." Florida Governor Charlie Crist and other state officials criticized the conclusion. For background on the ACF dispute, visit the prior ESA Blawg (Nov. 10, 2007) on this topic.
From left to right are Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, Chief of Engineers; Jim Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida; Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama; Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Department of the Interior; and Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia. Photo from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
STATEMENT BY GOVERNOR CHARLIE CRIST REGARDING U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE OPINION ON PROPOSED REVISION TO THE INTERIM OPERATIONS PLAN (June 2, 2008)
“Today’s decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is disappointing. A continued reduction in flows to the Apalachicola River over the next five years places the economic and environmental future of an entire region at risk. This revised plan creates significant challenges in managing one of the most productive and diverse estuaries on the Gulf of Mexico.
“Regrettably, today’s decision jeopardizes the hope of Florida’s downstream communities which rely on proper flows to sustain a vibrant ecosystem. Floridians in these areas can be assured that we will continue to advocate for the protection of the Apalachicola ecosystem. We will encourage all stakeholders to work together to further develop a long-term, comprehensive strategy that includes water conservation and balances the needs of all communities within the ACF region, particularly those facing the downstream consequences of any flow reduction.
“I will continue to engage my friends, Governor Perdue and Governor Riley, to resolve these critical water issues in a fair and appropriate manner.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, see Miami Herald, ABC news coverage of statements by Congressman Allen Boyd (D-North Florida), and news coverage from Georgia's Gainesville Times.