Following the 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listing of the Florida bonneted bat (FBB) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), state and federal wildlife agencies, private consultants, and researchers have conducted numerous studies and surveys to better understand the biology and life history of the species. On June 10, 2020, the USFWS announced a proposal to designate approximately 1.5-million acres of critical habitat for the FBB under the ESA, as well as the availability of a draft economic analysis for the proposed designation. The USFWS contends the critical habitat areas are essential to the conservation of the species, provide the physical and biological features necessary for the FBB to survive and reproduce, and accordingly may require special management or protection.
The proposed critical habitat includes four separate units spanning 10 counties across South and Central Florida, and includes Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Sarasota. All four units are currently occupied by the FBB. The USFWS delineated proposed critical habitat units using scientific data from confirmed observations and considered FBB home range sizes, flight distances, and habitat analyses. If adopted, the designation of critical habitat will likely affect Federal agency actions, as well as federally funded and permitted activities. However, it’s too soon to fully understand how this proposal may affect Federal rules and regulations and the development and construction industries.
The public may submit comments on the proposed critical habitat designation and the draft economic analysis throughout a 60-day comment period ending on August 10, 2020 at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2019–0106. Additional information on the proposed critical habitat designation and draft economic analysis is available for public inspection at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=FR.
Johnson Engineering ecologists have conducted dozens of FBB acoustic and roost surveys since the 2013 FBB listing, including most of the counties that comprise the proposed critical habitat areas. Our team will continue to stay abreast of the latest changes to state and federal regulations through our service on the state’s FBB Working Group.
For questions on environmental surveys or how the proposed designation of FBB critical habitat may affect your project, contact John Curtis at [email protected].