Therefore, given observed flight distances from data available on comparable species at the time of our habitat analyses, we first evaluated natural habitats within 12 km (7.5 mi) of confirmed detections from 2003 through May 2014 to guide our identification of important occupied areas.
* * * * * * *. On September 20, 2013, in an effort to ensure early coordination, we notified Tribal partners of our intention to make a proposed critical habitat designation and requested information. comm. However, while landowners or land managers may not be able prevent these events, they may be able to respond with management or protection. However, this factor is not expected to appreciably increase the degree of threat to the species because it would presumably apply only to individuals under certain circumstances (e.g., where bats are roosting in or near human dwellings or structures and where humans are intolerant of bat presence) where risks from humans already exist. 670a), if the Secretary determines in writing that such plan provides a benefit to the species for which critical habitat is proposed for designation.”. Each bat is about the size of a standard iPhone when at rest. 12/11/2020, 42 comm. 2013g-i; Angell and Thompson 2015, p. 185; Braun de Torrez, pers. Regulatory uncertainty generated by critical habitat may also have impacts. These include Federal, State, local, and private conservation lands and other private (non-conservation) lands that retain natural areas and implement conservation measures benefitting the species. Therefore, we are not proposing to exclude any units based on this plan. comm. In natural landscapes, wetland forest, open freshwater wetland, wetland shrub, upland forest, and upland shrub comprised the top five land cover types when examining habitats within 1.6 km (1 mi) of confirmed presences. We cannot, however, automatically exclude requested areas. Based on the new information we receive (and any comments on that new information), our final designation may not include all areas proposed, may include some additional areas, and may exclude some areas if we find the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion. Sources of drinking water are important for most insectivorous bat species (Kurta et al. The species also occurs in agricultural areas and in urban, suburban, and residential areas (see Use of Parks, Residential Areas, and Other Urban Areas, final listing rule (78 FR 61004, October 2, 2013)). We are proposing to designate four units of occupied habitat as critical habitat for the Florida bonneted bat. In the Search box, enter Docket No. There is a Federal nexus associated with each of these economic activities when they occur on Federal lands. However, roost locations (the center point of bat activities) related to these data were unknown. For the reasons stated above (see Occupied at the Time of Listing), we conclude it is reasonable to assume that bats occupying specific areas in 2014 to 2019, occupied those areas at the time of listing in 2013. Specific areas within this range meet the definition of critical habitat (see above), and the best scientific data available indicates a benefit of designating critical habitat. These are the largest bats east of the Mississippi River. 2011, p. 5). 2008; Gore et al. comm. Fish and Wildlife Service, a bureau in the Department of Interior. comm. (i) General description: Unit 4 consists of 114,372 ha (282,620 ac), most of which are conservation lands and occur west of the Florida Turnpike, in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Section 4(a)(3)(B)(i) of the Act may not apply to all DoD lands or areas that pose potential national-security concerns (e.g., a DoD installation that is in the process of revising its INRMP for a newly listed species or a species previously not covered). Support the designation of critical habitat for Florida Bonneted Bats! This feature is not available for this document. 2017d; Gore et al. They have been recorded in a wide array of habitat types, including: Pine flatwoods, pine rocklands, cypress, hardwood hammocks, mangroves, wetlands, rivers, lakes, ponds, canals, other natural areas, rural and agriculture lands, including groves, tropical gardens, crop-based agriculture; as well as residential and urban areas (Arwood, pers. 2012). ... Florida bonneted bat – It is endangered and does not have a critical habitat in the Everglades. The President of the United States communicates information on holidays, commemorations, special observances, trade, and policy through Proclamations. (k) Whether agricultural lands that may provide foraging habitat are essential for the conservation of the species and why. More information and documentation can be found in our While the proposed critical habitat area is relatively large, totaling 598,261 ha (1,478,333 ac), the strong baseline protections that are already anticipated to exist for this species due to its listed status, the existence of a consultation area map that alerts managing agencies about the location of the species and its habitat, and the presence of other listed species in the area keep the costs comparatively low. Natural habitat types with diverse plant communities help provide a sufficient prey base and conditions for foraging, dispersal, and other life-history functions. Florida bonneted bats were also “more common in areas with higher historical mean annual rainfall but seemed to prefer areas with lower rainfall during the spring” (Bailey et al. However, even if the Service were to conclude that the proposed activity would result in destruction or adverse modification of the critical habitat, the Federal action agency and the landowner are not required to abandon the proposed activity, or to restore or recover the species; instead, they must implement “reasonable and prudent alternatives” to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. rendition of the daily Federal Register on FederalRegister.gov does not (2) Using the best available science, including confirmed presence data from 2003 through 2014, and reasonable inferences regarding home range sizes and flight distances of other Eumops and other comparable species, we conducted habitat analyses to better understand Florida bonneted bat habitat use at multiple spatial scales (see Habitat Analyses, below). We analyzed INRMPs developed by military installations located within the range of the proposed critical habitat designation for the Florida bonneted bat to determine if they meet the criteria for exemption from critical habitat under section 4(a)(3) of the Act. Dispersal is important for bats for inbreeding avoidance, exploiting available resources, and maintaining a persisting population through changing landscapes. Changing habitat conditions due to changes in climate and responses by humans may make the bonneted bat shift from its current range, possibly moving inland or north (Rebelo et al. In practice, situations with a Federal nexus exist primarily on Federal lands or for projects funded by, undertaken by, or authorized by Federal agencies. If finalized this rule as proposed, would extend the ESA protections to this species' critical habitat. 2, 9). This bat is found in Florida … 16 U.S.C. primary habitats, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office, Florida bristle fern proposed Critical Habitat, U.S. These may include agriculture (including use of pesticides); development and utilities (including alteration of natural lighting); fire and forest management; grazing; recreation; and loss, diversion, or conversion of wetlands not regulated by the Clean Water Act. For comments submitted via hard copy, we will post your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—on http://www.regulations.gov. In our IEM, we attempted to clarify the distinction between the effects that result from the species being listed and those attributable to the critical habitat designation (i.e., difference between the jeopardy and adverse modification standards) for the Florida bonneted bat's critical habitat. Detailed information regarding these plans, agreements, easements, and partnerships is also requested, including: (a) The location and size of lands covered by the plan, agreement, easement, or partnership; (b) The duration of the plan, agreement, easement, or partnership; (d) What management activities are conducted; (f) If management activities are beneficial to the Florida bonnet bat and its habitat. A federalism summary impact statement is not required. (v) The Secretary otherwise determines that designation of critical habitat would not be prudent based on the best scientific data available. Economic analysis. Such final decisions would be a logical outgrowth of this proposal, as long as: (1) We base the decisions on the best scientific and commercial data available and take into consideration the relevant impacts; (2) we articulate a rational connection between the facts found and the conclusions made, including why we changed our conclusion; and (3) we base removal of any areas on a determination either that the area does not meet the definition of “critical habitat” or that the benefits of excluding the area will outweigh the benefits of including it in the designation. Unit 4 consists mostly of conservation lands west of the Florida Turnpike. 2002, p. 11; Gore, pers. In general, open freshwater and wetlands, and other open natural habitats provide prime foraging areas for bats, providing important sources of water, concentrations of prey, and conditions and structure for finding and capturing prey. 2000, p. 139; Boyles and Aubrey 2006, entire; Lacki et al. comm. Where information gaps on the Florida bonneted bat remain, we rely on available information on other Eumops, other molossids (free-tailed bats), and other comparable bat species. 1503 & 1507. Similarly, land cover types surrounding the FPNWR roost comprise 48 percent upland forest, 47 percent wetland forest, 3 percent open freshwater wetlands, and 2 percent shrub. Introduction. That justification could include demonstration of probable impacts, such as impacts to ongoing border-security patrols and surveillance activities, or a delay in training or facility construction, as a result of compliance with section 7(a)(2) of the Act. 2012f), and surveys conducted in BCNP in 2012-2014 (Arwood, pers. are not part of the published document itself. As of May 2019, researchers had found 19 natural roost sites in live trees and snags and determined that 6 roost trees had fallen or were too damaged for future use by bats, 3 were confirmed active, 3 were inactive, and 7 were unknown (Braun de Torrez, pers. The species is active year-round and considered semi-tropical (Ober et al. The following specific circumstances in this case help to inform our evaluation: (1) The essential PBFs identified for critical habitat are the same features essential for the life requisites of the species, and (2) any actions that would result in sufficient harm or harassment to constitute jeopardy to the Florida bonneted bat would also likely adversely affect the essential PBFs of critical habitat. Shelved plans for a 28-acre resort-style theme park with shops and a hotel near Zoo Miami and habitat for the nation’s rarest bat are back in play. comm., 2018b; Myers, pers. 1995, p. 412). You may obtain field office location information by contacting one of the Service regional offices, the addresses of which are listed at 50 CFR 2.2. APAFR's INRMP benefits the Florida bonneted bat through ongoing ecosystem management, and specifically active management of RCW habitat, which should provide habitat for the species (U.S. Air Force 2017, pp. It is our position that, outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, we do not need to prepare environmental analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act in connection with designating critical habitat under the Act. Additional details regarding the above surveys are described in the proposed and final listing rules (77 FR 60750; 78 FR 61004). comm. A feature may be a single habitat characteristic, or a more complex combination of habitat characteristics. In the first work on providing demographic estimates for the Florida bonneted bat, Bailey et al. Local A feature may be a single habitat characteristic, or a more complex combination of habitat characteristics. We have invited these peer reviewers to comment during this public comment period. documents in the last year, 34 PROTECT FLORIDA AND SAVE AMERICA'S RAREST BAT! Most insectivorous bats eat large quantities of insects (Ross 1967, entire; Black 1974, entire; Kunz 1974, entire; Kunz et al. 2014e). Why we need to publish a proposed rule. 2012). For example, the designation may cause other Federal, State, or local permitting or regulatory agencies to expand or change standards or requirements. Adults are reproductively active during all three capture sessions (August, December, and April), and non-volant (not capable of flying) pups were found in roosts from May through December (Ober et al. However, it may assist these local governments in long-range planning (because these local governments no longer have to wait for case-by-case section 7 consultations to occur). comm., 2015a; Braun de Torrez et al. In addition, section 7(a)(4) of the Act requires Federal agencies to confer with the Service on any agency action which is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any species proposed to be listed under the Act or result in the destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat.Start Printed Page 35530. To assist the public in understanding the habitat needs of the species, the rule identifies the elements of PBFs essential to the conservation of the species. We have also determined that there are no HCPs applicable to areas proposed for designation. 683 (1,688). These activities could alter conditions beyond the species' tolerance, adversely affect individuals and their life cycles, reduce habitat suitability, or impact prey base, thereby affecting conditions necessary for survival, reproduction, growth, dispersal, and expansion (see Physical or Biological Features, above). (h) Whether we have determined the most appropriate size and configuration of our proposed critical habitat units. It is reasonable to assume that prey base (i.e., availability, abundance, and diversity of insects) would be more plentiful with reduction of insecticides, where possible. We will accept comments on the proposed rule or draft economic analysis that are received or postmarked on or before August 10, 2020. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to designate the bat’s home in Charlotte and Collier counties as critical habitat. If we finalize this proposed critical habitat designation, consultations to avoid the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat would be incorporated into the existing consultation process. The APAFR, located in Polk County, has a current and completed INRMP, signed by FWC and the Service in September 2017. This evaluation of the incremental effects has been used as the basis to evaluate the probable incremental economic impacts of this proposed designation of critical habitat. It is not an official legal edition of the Federal The bonneted bat is Florida’s largest bat with a wingspan just short of two feet (typically between 19–21 inches). These data included the following: (a) Range-wide surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015 to determine Florida bonneted bat distribution and habitat use (Bailey et al. Unit 4 represents the eastern portion of the species' core areas and includes the bulk of the remaining high-quality natural habitat in the species' former strongholds on the east coast (Belwood 1992, pp. Such designation does not require implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by non-Federal landowners. The hair color varies from black to brown to grayish or cinnamon brown. on NARA's archives.gov. The goal of this plan is to improve the conservation status of the Florida bonneted bat so the species is secure within its historical range. Title: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Critical Habitat Designation for the Florida Bonneted Bat Abstract: We will propose to designate critical habitat for the Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus) under the Endangered Species Act. This radius was selected as a conservative distance representing the midpoint of 24 km (15 mi), which we determined to be a reasonable estimate of foraging distance based on one-way distance data for related and comparable species available at the time of our habitat analyses (Tibbitts et al. The Florida bonneted bat is at risk of take in the form of inadvertent or purposeful removal, displacement, and disturbance wherever it occurs in or near human dwellings or structures (see Factor D and Factor E, final listing rule (78 FR 61004, October 2, 2013)).
Foraging habitat may be separate and relatively far distances from roosting habitat. Artificial lighting can also alter the normal movements and behaviors of bat species, negatively affecting the energy reserves of individuals (Longcore and Rich 2004, pp. 193-195). The species' small population and low fecundity make any additional potential sources of mortality cause for concern. About the Federal Register Differences in these environmental conditions may occur seasonally or on finer temporal scales. 2014); and, Any activities with a Federal nexus occurring within occupied habitat will be subject to section 7 consultation requirements regardless of critical habitat designation, due to the presence of the listed species; and. We will schedule a public hearing on this proposal, if requested, and announce the date, time, and place of the hearing, as well as how to obtain reasonable accommodations, in the Federal Register and local newspapers at least 15 days before the hearing. 2002, p. 11; Gore, pers. 2016, entire; Bailey et al. (2) Actions that would significantly alter vegetation structure or composition. Artificial structures could potentially help provide roosting opportunities in areas impacted by stochastic events or where suitable natural roosts are lacking or deficient. comm. Critical habitat was not designated with the listing, but is expected to be proposed by 2014. 2013b); Corbett WMA—locations of active and inactive RCW trees (P. Miles, pers. Water sources (for drinking, prey, and structure) are important habitat components for the Florida bonneted bat. We recognize that critical habitat designated at a particular point in time may not include all of the habitat areas that we may later determine are necessary for the recovery of the species. 2018a). the Federal Register. Further, most of the remaining bat populations face similar threats and pressures (e.g., development pressure, effects of climate change, coastal squeeze, droughts, hurricanes) that are expected to reduce their resiliency. These included: Wetland forest, wetland shrub, upland forest, upland shrub, open freshwater wetlands, saltwater wetlands, grasslands/open land, agricultural, urban, and water. Similar roosting habitats (i.e., use of tree cavities, foliage of palms, crevices) have been reported for closely related species in other areas (Robson 1989, p. 2; Belwood 1992, pp. documents in the last year, 43 documents in the last year, 643 We are seeking comments from independent specialists to ensure that our critical habitat proposal is based on scientifically sound data and analyses. The Florida bonneted bat (also known as the Florida mastiff bat) is the largest species of bat in Florida, and the rarest bat in ALL of North America. • Critical habitat is a tool to guide Federal agencies and only affects Federal agency actions or federally funded or permitted activities. the current document as it appeared on Public Inspection on More research on the role of bat houses in bonneted bat conservation is needed, especially given the bat's social structure (FWC 2013, pp. As such, we consider suitable habitat within these core areas (i.e., Polk, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Monroe, and Miami-Dade Counties) to be essential to the conservation of the Florida bonneted bat. This area may be the last remaining predominantly natural occupied habitat on the east coast of Florida. The project would be built on environmentally sensitive county land that is habitat for the Florida bonneted bat, the rarest bat in the U.S., and other endangered species unique to Florida. ), whenever an agency is required to publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the effects of the rule on small entities (i.e., small businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). When analyzing habitat within the geographic regions, top habitat types were similar, although the most prevalent land cover type varied based on the geographic area. 2015). comm. 06/09/2020 at 8:45 am. Artificial lighting (i.e., ecological light pollution) can have demonstrable effects on behavioral and population ecology of organisms, including bats and insects (Longcore and Rich 2004, pp. Many species of bats use highway structures either as day or night roosts (Keeley and Tuttle 1999, p. 9). Energy demands of the bonneted bat probably fluctuate seasonally (e.g., assumed higher demands during cold weather as it does not have periods of torpor (a state of decreased physiological activity in an animal, including decreased body temperature, heart rate, and metabolism)) and during sensitive times (e.g., maternity, nursery, supporting offspring). Insectivorous bat activity and diversity are strongly correlated with arthropod abundance (Racey and Swift 1985, pp. 24-26). In the paragraphs below, we provide a description of our consideration of these lands for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. A total of 10,852 ha (26,817 ac) of Tribal land could potentially be excluded. Habitat loss from sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion will be greatest in areas closer to the coast and is likely to result in the loss of some bonneted bat populations, such as those in eastern Miami-Dade County, reducing the species' ability to withstand catastrophic events (i.e., redundancy). The final decision on whether to exclude any areas will be based on the best scientific data available at the time of the final designation, including information obtained during the comment period and information about the economic impact of designation. Examining land coverages within 1.6 km (1 mi) around all confirmed presences suggested that wetland forest (35 percent), open freshwater wetland (16 percent), and wet shrub (11 percent) were the predominant habitat types used. This threshold was chosen after comparing with other values over 50 percent (i.e., values representing grid cells having a majority of habitat within the top five cover types). 1979, entire; Belwood 1992, p. 221; Best et al. of the issuing agency. They are very popular in Charlotte County, specifically, near the Babcock area. Foraging behavior is tied in part to insect abundance, availability, and density (Anthony and Kunz 1977, entire; Racey and Swift 1985, p. 212; Wickramasinghe et al. (7) Unit 2: Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area, Babcock Ranch, and surrounding areas; Charlotte, Lee, and Glades Counties, Florida. This site displays a prototype of a “Web 2.0” version of the daily All four units are occupied (at the time of listing and currently, based on the most recent data available; see description of occupancy status, above). Prolonged cold temperatures resulted in bonneted bat mortalities at one known colony site in North Fort Myers, Florida, during a severe cold snap in 2010 (Trokey, pers. 321-346; Fenton 1997, entire; Pierson 1998, pp. Therefore, there is uncertainty as to whether or not other areas (i.e., those areas not surveyed and those areas that have been surveyed but lack confirmed presence data) were also occupied at the time the bonneted bat was listed. When the bonneted bat was listed as endangered, the U.S. For example, physical features might include gravel of a particular size required for spawning, alkali soil for seed germination, protective cover for migration, or susceptibility to flooding or fire that maintains necessary early-successional habitat characteristics. In October, the organization announced a proposal to designate critical habitat land for the Florida bonneted bat under the Endangered Species Act. Due to both the limited number of surveys undertaken and the overall lack of rigor (e.g., effort insufficient to fully document presence or suggest absence), it is reasonable to assume that other areas where suitable habitat exists within the geographic range may also have been occupied at the time of listing. In addition to minimizing environmental damage from infrastructure projects, other mitigation may include providing alternative roosts on-site or artificial structures off-site (Keely and Tuttle 1999, p. 21). Approximately 598,261 hectares (ha) (1,478,333 acres (ac)) in portions of 10 Florida counties fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. 1-28; 2008d, pp. Small businesses include manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 employees, wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, retail and service businesses with less than $5 million in annual sales, general and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 million in annual business, special trade contractors doing less than $11.5 million in annual business, and agricultural businesses with annual sales less than $750,000. documents in the last year, 1475 59, 63; Adams and Hayes 2008, pp. For example, Florida bonneted bat pups were considered to be very likely present in bat houses during April 16-August 15, and quite possibly present from August 15 through December 31 in bat houses at Babcock-Webb WMA (Gore, pers. As such, a Small Government Agency Plan is not required. Foraging habitat may be separate and relatively far distances from roosting habitat. When identifying the benefits of inclusion for an area, we consider the additional regulatory benefits that area would receive due to the protection from destruction of adverse modification as a result of actions with a Federal nexus; the educational benefits of mapping essential habitat for recovery of the listed species; and any benefits that may result from a designation due to State or Federal laws that may apply to critical habitat. 1531 et seq. 12866 and 13563 direct Federal agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives in quantitative (to the extent feasible) and qualitative terms. 5658)), and our associated Information Quality Guidelines, provide criteria, establish procedures, and provide guidance to ensure that our decisions are based on the best scientific data available. In particular, the screening analysis considers baseline costs (i.e., absent critical habitat designation) and includes probable economic impacts where land and water use may be subject to conservation plans, land management plans, best management practices, or regulations that protect the habitat area as a result of the Federal listing status of the species. In the Miami area (Richmond pine Start Printed Page 35517rocklands (Zoo Miami, Larry and Penny Thompson Park, and the Martinez Preserve)), the species has been detected in a variety of habitat types, but peak activity occurred in areas of artificial freshwater lakes adjacent to intact pine rocklands (Ridgley, pers. 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