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E-M:/ Fwd GLIN- Piping Plover Critical Habitat Proposed

Enviro-Mich message from "Rita Jack" <ritaj@flint.umich.edu>

------- Forwarded message follows -------
From:           	Rich_Greenwood@fws.gov
Subject:        	GLIN==> Service Proposes Critical Habitat for Populations of Piping Plovers
To:             	glin-announce@great-lakes.net
Date sent:      	Wed, 5 Jul 2000 16:08:13 -0500

----- Forwarded by Rich Greenwood/R3/FWS/DOI on 07/05/2000 04:02 PM --

Sent by:                
To:    fws-news@www.fws.gov                       
cc:    fws-news-owner@www.fws.gov              
Subject:    Service Proposes Critical Habitat for Populations of 
Piping Plovers      

06/30/2000 09:34 AM   
Press Release  June 30, 2000                    
Contact:   Vicki Fox: 505/248-6455
Lee Elliott: 361/994-9005
Laura Ragan: 612/713-5157
Cindy Hoffman: 202/208-3008


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to designate critical 
habitat for the piping plover (Charadrius melodus), an imperiled 
shorebird that inhabits the shorelines of the Great Lakes, 
southeastern states and Gulf of Mexico. The Service will be holding 
informational hearings in the affected states this summer and take 
public comments before finalizing this proposal.  

Critical habitat for the breeding populations of piping plovers on 
the Great Lakes is being proposed along approximately 189 miles of 
shoreline. This includes areas that support, or have the potential to 
support, open, sparsely vegetated sandy habitats such as sand spits 
or sand beaches associated with wide, unforested systems of dunes and 
inter-dune wetlands, and the plover's prey species.  Within these 
areas, specific habitat features needed by piping plover include 
patches of vegetation, cobble, debris such as driftwood, and other 
forms of protective cover for nests and chicks.  

In the wintering areas, critical habitat is being proposed along 1672 
miles of coastline in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, 
Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.  These include coastal 
areas with intertidal beaches and flats and associated dune systems 
and flats above annual high tide.  Intertidal sites offer foraging 
and roosting sites while areas above high tide provide refuge from 
high winds and cold weather.  

"It is possible that some Federally owned beaches in the Great Lakes 
will be temporarily closed during the spring-time in order to 
determine which areas may be utilized for nesting," said Bill 
Hartwig, Regional Director for the Great Lakes/Big Rivers Region.  

Critical habitat refers to specific geographic areas that are 
essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species 
and may require special management considerations.  These areas do 
not necessarily have to be occupied by the species at the time of 

A critical habitat designation does not set up a preserve or refuge 
and only applies to situations where federal funding or a federal 
permit is involved. For example, the designation of critical habitat 
does not affect a landowner undertaking a project on private land 
that does not involve Federal funding or require a Federal permit or 

Not all areas found within the boundaries designated as critical 
habitat are essential for the conservation of the species.  For 
example, roads, lawns, paved areas and other man-made structures 
would not be considered critical habitat. Only areas containing 
important components of habitat will receive protection as critical 
habitat. "The Service will continue to work closely with all of our 
partners to help protect and recover the piping plover," said the 
Service's Southwest Regional Director Nancy Kaufman. "Critical 
habitat gives us another way to help educate the public about the 
habitat needs of endangered species."  

The piping plover (Charadrius melodus) is named for its melodic 
mating call.  It is a small, pale-colored North American shorebird.   
The bird's light sand-colored plumage blends in with sandy beaches 
and shorelines. There are three populations of piping plovers in the 
United States.  The most endangered is the Great Lakes breeding 
population, which encompasses only 32 breeding pairs.  The Northern 
Great Plains and Atlantic Coast populations are classified as 
threatened and include 1398 and 1372 breeding pairs respectively.  
All piping plovers winter along the southeast and Gulf coasts and are 
classified as threatened in their wintering habitat.  

In recent decades, piping plover populations have drastically 
declined, especially in the Great Lakes Region.  Breeding habitat has 
been replaced by shoreline development and recreational uses causing 
plover numbers to plummet.  Similar threats face the species on its 
wintering grounds where loss of habitat threatens the ability of 
these birds to survive to the next breeding season.  

As a listed species under the Endangered Species Act, the piping 
plover is already protected wherever it occurs and Federal agencies 
are required to consult on any action they take which might affect 
the species.  The designation of critical habitat will help the 
species by ensuring Federal agencies and the public alike are aware 
of the habitat needs of this species and that proper consultation is 
conducted when required by law.  

Today's proposal is in response to lawsuits brought by Defenders of 
Wildlife.  As a result, the Service was directed to publish proposed 
critical habitat for the breeding and wintering habitat for the Great 
Lakes population of the piping plover by June 30, 2000, with a 
finalized designation due by April 30, 2001.  The Service was also 
ordered to designate critical habitat for the Great Plains population 
by May 31, 2001 with a final rule by March 15, 2002.  At this time, 
two separate proposals are being published, one for the Great Lakes 
breeding habitat and one for the wintering habitat for all piping 

A complete description of the two proposed critical habitat
designations for the breeding population along the Great Lakes and
wintering populations of piping plovers will be published in the
Federal Register.  Copies of the proposals and maps are available by
contacting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the addresses below
or may be downloaded from the Worldwide Web at http://plover.fws.gov.

The proposal will be published in the July 6 Federal Register. 
Service will accept written comments from the public for 60 days 
following publication in the Federal Register.  Written comments on 
the Great Lakes proposal should be submitted to Piping Plover 
Comment, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1 Federal Drive, Fort 
Snelling, MN 55111.  Comments may also be send electronically to: 

Comments for the wintering population proposal should be sent to 
Field Supervisor, Corpus Christi Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, c/o TAMU-CC, Campus Box 338, 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus 
Christi, TX 78412. Comments may also be sent electronically to: 

Public hearings will be held this summer on the designation of 
critical habitat in Great Lakes communities in Wisconsin, Michigan, 
Indiana, Ohio and New York; and in the coastal communities of North 
and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, 
Louisiana, and Texas  (schedule of hearings is attached).  

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.  The Service manages the 93-million-acre National 
Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 520 national wildlife 
refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management 
areas.  It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery 
resource offices, and 78 ecological services field stations.  The 
agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered 
Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally 
significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such 
as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation 
efforts.  It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes 
hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and 
hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.  


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