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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

« NOAA may list Atlantic Sturgeon | Main| Is Obama too green, or not green enough? »

Floridians on notice: FWS may revise manatee critical habitat, list gopher tortoise; regulators also extend comment period for beluga whale and Oregon plants

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KEITHINKING: Two noteworthy announcements in the Federal Register today for Floridians.  First, FWS indicated that revisions to manatee critical habitat are warranted, but for the moment, precluded by limited funds. (Or until the next lawsuit compels them?)  Second, FWS is continuing to consider the potential listing of the gopher tortoise, and has extended the comment period.  In addition, in response to requests by the Alaska Congressional delegation, NOAA extended the public comment period on the designation of critical habitat for beluga whale, and FWS reopens public comment on the potential critical habitat designation for two Oregon plants, Large-Flowered Woolly Meadowfoam) and Lomatium cookii (Cook’s Lomatium) in apparent recognition of potential economic impacts on land use development in Pacific region.  (Links to prior ESA blawg postings).

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75 Fed. Reg. 1574 (Tuesday, January 12, 2010)
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12–month Finding on a Petition To Revise Critical Habitat for the Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce our 12–month finding on a petition to revise critical habitat for the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. After a thorough review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that revisions to critical habitat for the Florida manatee are warranted. However, sufficient funds are not available due to higher priority actions such as court-ordered listing-related actions and judicially approved settlement agreements. We intend to initiate rulemaking when we complete the higher priorities and have the necessary resources to do so. DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on January 12, 2010.

ANALYSIS: In response to a petition by Save the Manatee and other environmental groups, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service found that the critical habitat needed to be revised, but that sufficient funding is not available at this time.  FWS statements also acknowledge that the current critical habitat designation does not adequately identify the specific features of critical habitat:
"The current critical habitat designation for the Florida manatee was described before critical habitat regulations and guidance were developed; it does not identify specific physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the manatee for this species’ habitat. Instead, it describes specific waterways that were known to be important concentration areas for manatees at that time. We recognize that the geographic areas originally described as manatee critical habitat need to be updated, based on recent scientific studies of manatee distribution, habitat use, and habitat needs as discussed above.

ManateeThree.jpg
Today's Federal Register announcement by FWS cites a few canals and structures -- even power plants! -- as habitat for manatees, suggesting that FWS intends to identify man-made structures as essential to the survival and recovery of the species.

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75 Fed. Reg. 1567 (Tuesday, January 12, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition to List the Eastern Population of the Gopher Tortoise as Threatened
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of 90–day petition finding; reopening of the information solicitation period.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), provide clarification of our request for information related to our September 9, 2009, 90–day finding on a petition to list the eastern population of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and initiation of status review. This notice is intended to clarify that all interested parties may continue to submit information and materials on the status of the gopher tortoise throughout its range during the period of the status review. Information previously submitted need not be resubmitted as it has already been incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in the 12–month finding. DATES: To allow us adequate time to consider and incorporate submitted information into our review, we request that we receive information on or before March 15, 2010.

FOR MORE about the beluga whale and plant designations...
 
75 Fed. Reg. 1582 (Tuesday, January 12, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 226
Endangered and Threatened Species; Designation of Critical Habitat for the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Proposed rule; extension of public comment period.

SUMMARY: We, NMFS, are extending the date by which public comments are due concerning the proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale, Delphinapterus leucas, under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for this species in the Federal Register of December 2, 2009. The original due date for receipt of public comments was scheduled to end on February 1, 2010, and today we extend the public comment period to March 3, 2010.

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75 Fed. Reg. 1568 (Tuesday, January 12, 2010) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for Limnanthes floccosa ssp. grandiflora (Large-Flowered Woolly Meadowfoam) and Lomatium cookii (Cook’s Lomatium)
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period, availability of draft economic analysis, amended required determinations, and announcement of public hearing.

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the reopening of the comment period on the proposed designation of critical habitat for two plants, Limnanthes floccosa ssp. grandiflora (large-flowered woolly meadowfoam) and Lomatium cookii (Cook’s lomatium, also known as Cook’s desert parsley), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We also announce the availability of a draft economic analysis (DEA) and an amended required determinations section of the proposal. We are reopening the comment period for an additional 30 days to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed designation of critical habitat for L.f. ssp. grandiflora and Lomatium cookii, the associated DEA, and the amended required determinations section. If you submitted comments previously, you do not need to resubmit them because we have already incorporated previously submitted comments into the public record and will fully consider them in preparation of the final rule. We also announce a public hearing; the public is invited to review and comment on any of the above actions associated with the proposed critical habitat designation at the public hearing or in writing. DATES: Written Comments: We will consider public comments received or postmarked on or before February 11, 2010.