turtle beach
July 17, 2013
by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 4:18 pm

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is releasing the estimated cost and economic impacts of its proposal to designate terrestrial critical habitat for the Northwest Atlantic population of loggerhead sea turtles in coastal areas of six southeastern U.S. states.

The Service is also re-opening the public comment period for 60 days on the proposal and the associated draft economic analysis.

The draft economic analysis considered the potential impact of the designation on various sectors of the economy.  Based on the best available information,  the Service estimates total potential incremental economic impacts in areas proposed as critical habitat over the next 10 years (2014 to 2024) to be approximately $1,200,000 ($150,000 annualized) in present-value terms when applying a seven percent discount rate.  The Service estimates these are administrative costs borne by federal and state agencies associated with Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 consultations.

On average, of the potential annual $150,000 costs, 46% to be borne by the Service, 38% to other Federal Agency costs, and the remaining 16% to the project proponents.  These proponents could include counties doing beach nourishment projects, or private or corporate applicants doing some type of beach construction.

Critical habitat designation for other federal listed species is already in place in many of the locations proposed for the loggerhead sea turtle.  As such, federal agencies must already consider what, if any, impact the projects they conduct, fund or permit might have on these federally listed species.  Critical habitat reviews for these other species have not prevented beach nourishment projects or limited beach access, and neither will reviews associated with terrestrial critical habitat for the loggerhead.

The Service anticipates the proposed designation will have minimal effects on small business entities. More details on the methods used to generate these estimates, as well as the estimated impacts, are available in the draft economic analysis. The draft economic analysis and proposed terrestrial critical habitat designation are available for download athttp://www.regulations.gov under docket # FWS–R4–ES–2012–0103, and at http://www.fws.gov/northflorida.

The public is encouraged to submit written comments and materials concerning the economic analysis or any aspect of the proposed critical habitat designation electronically athttp://www.regulations.gov under docket # FWS–R4–ES–2012–0103.  Alternatively, comments and materials may be mailed to Public Comments Processing; Attn: Docket # FWS–R4–ES–2012–0103, Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 North Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203. 

All electronic comments must be received by 11:59 P.M., September 16, 2013.  Comments and materials submitted by mail must be postmarked no later than September 16, 2013.  All comments must include a first and last name, city, state, country and zip code.

Any comments and materials received, as well as supporting documentation used in preparing this proposed rule, is available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov under docket # FWS–R4–ES–2012–0103, or by appointment during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Florida Ecological Services Office, 7915 Baymeadows Way, Suite 200, Jacksonville, FL 32256; by telephone 904-731-3336; or by facsimile 904-731-3059.

The Service has also scheduled three informational open houses followed by formal public hearings, with the Charleston ublic hearing taking place:

August 6, 2013 at:

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Marine Resources Research Institute Auditorium
217 Ft. Johnson Rd., Charleston, SC 29412

Informational Open House: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Formal Public Hearing: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The open houses provide all interested parties an informal opportunity to talk with Service staff, hear information first hand, and ask questions about the proposed terrestrial critical habitat designation and associated draft economic analysis.  The public hearings are formal, structured listening sessions for interested parties to verbally express their comments to the Service on the proposed terrestrial critical habitat designation and associated draft economic analysis.  These comments will be considered and added to the official decision record.

Written comments submitted during the comment periods receive equal consideration with those presented verbally at formal public hearings.  Additionally, all comments and information received during either of the open comments periods will be considered in making a final decision.  As such, comments and information previously submitted do not need to be resubmitted.  Those comments will be incorporated into a final review along with those received during the reopened comment period.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.  For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/southeast.  Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usfwssoutheast, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwssoutheast, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws, and download photos from our Flickr page athttp://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwssoutheast.