FWC approves new rules for conserving Florida's threatened species
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Media contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130
"This is a momentous day," said Dr. Elsa Haubold,
leader of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's
(FWC) imperiled species listing team, as she began her presentation
at the meeting on Wednesday.
Chairman Rodney Barreto praised the collaborative
teamwork, and said Sam Hamilton, former director of the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, who died in February 2010, would be very
pleased on this passage of the new rules.
"Sam Hamilton left us too soon, but he would be
proud today," Barreto said. "I want it to go on record that this
rule will forever be known as the Sam Hamilton Listed Species
After Haubold's presentation, the Commission
approved new rules for managing threatened species, which begins a
new era for conserving fish and wildlife in Florida. The rules
describe a system whose goals are to conserve threatened species
and to ensure no fish or wildlife goes extinct in Florida because
of human action or inaction.
"I've been here since the last go-round with our
listing process," said Commissioner Kathy Barco. "And believe me,
if you'd told me we could get to this point after it being so
contentious three years ago, I never would have believed you. I am
very happy today."
David Hankla, field supervisor of the USFWS's North
Florida field office, spoke before the final, unanimous vote was
taken. He told Commissioners he wanted to recognize the outstanding
partnerships between the federal government and the state to create
rules that could become a "national standard."
"Let there be no doubt as to the FWC's intent,"
said Commissioner Brian Yablonski. "These rules are here to protect
and conserve species, period. Now the time has come to put all the
hard work to the test."
The FWC began the revision because of confusion and
controversy over how imperiled species were listed and what they
were called. After more than two and a half years of meetings with
the public and stakeholders, Florida now has a system that will
focus attention on what is needed to conserve threatened and
endangered species, rather than on what the species are called.
The new system not only comprises a list that
designates Florida's threatened species, but it provides a holistic
management system that also includes conservation actions and
goals, the public, research, policy, incentives and rules,
enforcement and other components necessary to conserve Florida's
Under the new system, all state-listed species will
be in a single listing category called "threatened." Federally
listed species will be listed as Florida federally designated
endangered and threatened species. This fall, FWC biologists,
partnering with independent biologists, will conduct scientific
reviews of all species currently on Florida's threatened and
species of special concern lists. Some of these species have never
received reviews. Based on the biological review groups' findings,
staff will make recommendations to the Commission about whether
species should be listed as state threatened in the future.
The next step, beginning in spring 2011, will
involve a public process to create management plans that contain
strategies to ensure the status of threatened species in Florida
improves. Plans also will be created for species being removed from
the list to identify actions needed to prevent declines in the
species and the need to relist. Throughout the management plan
process, the FWC will incorporate public input about needs and
concerns related to the proposed species' management.
"This has been a rewarding challenge," Haubold
said. "We've set a firm foundation and met the objectives the
Commission gave us. Now the real work begins."
photograph above - FWC staff and stakeholders of the
Imperiled Species Team after approval of new rules (from left):
Greg Holder (FWC assistant
Bonnie Basham (Florida Airboat Association)
Laurie McDonald (Defenders of Wildlife)
Doug Rillstone (Broad & Cassel)
Elsa Haubold (Team leader, FWC)
Kipp Frohlich (Imperiled Species Section leader,
Julie Wraithmell (Audubon of Florida)
Michael Yaun (FWC attorney)
Jennifer Hobgood (Humane Society of the United
Perran Ross (University of Florida and FWC)
Tim Breault (Habitat and Species Conservation
Byron Maharrey (Everglades Coordinating
Amelia Savage (Hopping Green & Sams)
Elizabeth Fleming (Defenders of Wildlife)
Gil McRae (Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Steve Shea (consultant)
David Hankla (Field supervisor, USFWS North
Florida field office)
Pat Rose (Save the Manatee Club)
Amber Crooks (Conservancy of Southwest
Col. Jim Brown (Law Enforcement director,
Lt. Col. Michael Wiwi (Law Enforcement deputy