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Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for Beetle in Miami-Dade County

Client Alert
September 13, 2021
On September 7, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”), published notice of its proposal to designate critical habitat for the Miami tiger beetle under the Endangered Species Act (“Act”). In total, approximately 1,977 acres of pine rocklands in Miami-Dade County, Florida, fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation. Approximately 93% of the proposed critical habitat is owned by public entities, including federal, state, and county agencies and approximately 62% has already been designated by Miami-Dade County as Natural Forest Communities, subject to additional County regulations designed to protect native vegetation and species habitat. More details regarding the specific areas of proposed designation are available on the published notice, which can be found here. At present, the proposed designation would affect land located in and around the Palmetto Bay, Cutler, and Perrine areas (see map on page 25 of the published notice).

Section 7 of the Act protects designated critical habitat by requiring that federal agencies ensure, in consultation with the FWS, that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. Please note, however, that such a designation does not affect land ownership, or establish a refuge or preserve; nor does it require implementation of restoration, recovery, or enhancement measures by non-federal landowners, including private parties. Even if the FWS 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 to the critical habitat.

The FWS is accepting comments on the proposed critical habitat designation until November 8, 2021. Since the FWS must review and “consider” all comments received, the final rule (e.g. area encompassed by the designation) may differ substantially from this proposal and will likely not be finalized for months.
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