Park seeks public comment on a Plan to address the Manatee Area of Inadequate Protection in the Gulf Coast area of Everglades National Park
Contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714
In January 2000, Save the Manatee Club (SMC), along with several organizations and individuals, filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedures Act. Following extensive negotiations, a Settlement Agreement was approved by the court in January 2001. Under the terms of the settlement, the FWS agreed to complete the following:
Pursue a rulemaking proceeding to adopt incidental take regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Revise and make available for public review the FWS’ interim guidance for addressing potential manatee impacts associated with the development and permitting of new watercraft access facilities.
Revise the Florida manatee recovery plan.
Publish a final rule for new manatee refuges and sanctuaries in Florida.
The FWS and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) met with SMC in July 2001, to discuss SMC’s position on several sites in peninsular Florida to be designated as either manatee sanctuaries or manatee refuges. Those sites not considered for designation as manatee refuges and sanctuaries were to be designated as "areas of inadequate protection" or AIPs. The FWS designated the Everglades City-Chokoloskee area as an AIP in August 2001. The northern half of the Chokoloskee AIP encompassed Everglades City and is outside the boundaries of Everglades National Park (ENP). The southern half of the Chokoloskee AIP encompassed the area surrounding the island of Chokoloskee and ENP.
FWC and Collier County established various State and local manatee speed zones for Everglades City, the island of Chokoloskee, and the northern section of Chokoloskee Bay during 1996-1998. In order to be consistent with their Manatee Protection Plan (MPP), approved by the State in 1995, Collier County completed posting the year-round idle speed zones established for Everglades City and Chokoloskee in 1996.
The northern half of the Chokoloskee AIP encompassed Everglades City and is outside the boundaries of ENP. The southern half of the Chokoloskee AIP encompassed the island of Chokoloskee which is within the boundaries of ENP.
In order to remove the AIP designation from the Chokoloskee Bay area of Everglades National Park, the park is proposing to implement similar speed zones already established by FWC and Collier County. This will provide a seamless network of manatee protection and prevent any confusion of zones within different jurisdictional boundaries. The park will present two alternatives of this zoning at a public meeting to provide an opportunity for the public to see and comment on these alternatives that will better protect manatees within park boundaries.
January 16 Everglades City School, 6:30 -8:30 PM
415 School Drive,
Everglades City, FL 34139
Input on these alternatives will be accepted through February 16, 2008. If you would like to receive a copy of the proposed alternatives please call the park at 305-242-7700. If you are prompted by the voicemail system, press 2 at the 1st prompt and press 5 at the second prompt to leave your mailing address information. This information will also be available on the park website under management documents. Comments on alternatives can be provided in writing and either mailed to Bonnie Foist at ENP, 40001 State Road 9336, and Homestead, FL 33034-6733 or emailed to Bonnie_Foist@nps.gov.
For more information or questions, contact Bonnie Foist, Chief Ranger at 305-242-7739or