FWC Public Comment Period for 6 Draft Guidelines

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has released draft permitting guidelines for 6 additional state-threatened species: 2 fish, 2 amphibians, 1 mammal and 4 wading birds. While most of the 6 species are limited to certain counties and certain habitats or areas within those counties, the wading bird guidelines apply to birds found statewide. The Little blue heron, Roseate spoonbill, and Tricolored heron are found state-wide, and the Reddish egret is found in coastal areas statewide.

The wading bird guidelines have the potential to significantly restrict development. While ERP permitting is expected to address impacts to wetlands and surface waters used for foraging (except for the Reddish egret), the guidelines recommend detailed survey requirements to establish nesting/breeding sites  and 330 foot (100 meter) buffers and additional constraints around active and recent nesting/breeding areas, along with other measures, in order to avoid a requirement to obtain an incidental take permit from the FWC. Certain exemptions/authorizations for take are included in the guidelines. Activities conducted in accordance with approved agricultural and silvicultural wildlife BMPs and routine and emergency utility ROW maintenance are exempt from the need to obtain a permit and/or not expected to cause take.

Comments will be accepted on all of the guidelines until September 20, and webinars will be held September 6, 12, and 19 (see below). The draft guidelines can be obtained at the hyperlinks below.

Please contact Susan Stephens at susans@hgslaw.com should you have questions or need more information on how the guidelines could affect your operations.