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Substantial new scientific information has been obtained by researchers, agencies, conservation organizations, industry, and other partners. The baseline, therefore, represents the costs of all efforts attributable to the listing of the species under the Act (i.e., conservation of the species and its habitat incurred regardless of whether critical habitat is designated). Due to the species' physiology, we have identified open areas of freshwater and natural habitats as a feature essential to the conservation of this bat. For these reasons, a critical habitat designation does not signal that habitat outside the designated area is unimportant or may not be needed for recovery of the species. Open for Comment, Economic Sanctions & Foreign Assets Control, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory - PNNL, Procedures for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, Ensuring Access to United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines, Governance and Integration of Federal Mission Resilience, Florida Bonneted Bat Proposed CH Peer Review OI_Armstrong, Florida Bonneted Bat Proposed CH Peer Review COI_form_Gamba-Rios, 20200210_memo_SFESO to Baxter_FBB pCH IEM for EconAnalysis, Literature Cited with reference files available as attachments, Uncommon Acronyms Used in this Proposed Rule, Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior, Food, Water, Air, Light, Minerals, or Other Nutritional or Physiological Requirements, Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, or Rearing (or Development) of Offspring, Habitats Protected From Disturbance or Otherwise Representative of the Historical Geographical and Ecological Distributions of the Species, Summary of Essential Physical or Biological Features, Special Management Considerations or Protection, Inadvertent and Purposeful Impacts From Humans, Criteria Used To Identify Critical Habitat, Unit 1: Peace River and Surrounding Areas (Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, and Sarasota Counties, Florida), Unit 2: Babcock-Webb WMA, Babcock Ranch, and Surrounding Areas (Charlotte, Lee, and Glades Counties, Florida), Unit 3: Big Cypress and Surrounding Areas (Collier, Monroe, and Hendry Counties, Florida), Unit 4: Miami-Dade Natural Areas (Miami-Dade County, Florida), Application of the “Adverse Modification” Standard, Application of Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, Consideration of Impacts Under Section 4(b)(2) of the Act, Impacts on National Security and Homeland Security, Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts, Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563), Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes, PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS, Read the 470 public comments on this document, https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2020-10840, MODS: Government Publishing Office metadata, State County Close. 1996, p. 5; Best et al. 24-26). Loss of an active roost or removal during critical life-history stages (e.g., when females are pregnant or rearing young) can have severe ramifications, considering the species' apparent small population size and low fecundity (see Factor E, Effects of Small Population Size, Isolation, and Other Factors, final listing rule (78 FR 61004, October 2, 2013)). the current document as it appeared on Public Inspection on The Florida Bonneted Bat, one of the rarest and most endangered species of bat in the world, is relying on the designation of critical habitat in Florida, partially located in Everglades National Park, for its best chance of recovery and survival. documents in the last year, 643 State 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. We included areas that are expected to help maintain suitable roosting habitat and that include certain forested features we believe provide for connectivity and dispersal between geographic areas and/or subpopulations (see Population Estimates and Status and Factor E, Effects of Small Population Size, Isolation, and Other Factors, final listing rule (78 FR 61004, October 2, 2013)). Based on these natural roosts, Florida bonneted bats appear to roost in trees greater than 10 m (33 ft) in height, greater than 20 cm (8 in) diameter at breast height, with cavities greater than 5 m (16 ft) high off the ground (Braun de Torrez, pers. A feature may be a single habitat characteristic, or a more complex combination of habitat characteristics. 2000, p. 139; Boyles and Aubrey 2006, entire; Lacki et al. ), when we determine that any species is an endangered or threatened species, we are required to designate critical habitat, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable. 1989, p. 81; Belwood 1992, p. 219; Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 859; Braun de Torrez et al. edition of the Federal Register. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect 1.5 million acres as critical habitat for the Florida bonneted bat. In the paragraphs below, we provide a description of our consideration of these lands for exclusion under section 4(b)(2) of the Act. In addition to altering habitat, vegetation, or structure (given above), this includes, but is not limited to: Widespread application of pesticides; exposure to contaminants (e.g., direct or through drinking water or Start Printed Page 35531food chain); excessive alteration of natural lighting (that disrupts movements or foraging conditions or impacts prey); introduction of biocontrol agents; creation and operation of wind energy facilities; non-natural changes in hydrology; or other disturbances (e.g., excessive noise, excessive temperature) that impact prey or alter behavior, movement, or ability to echolocate. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to designate the bat’s home in Charlotte and Collier counties as critical habitat. (6) Unit 1: Peace River and surrounding areas; Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, and Sarasota Counties, Florida. The analyses of land cover use described above were conducted shortly after the species' listing. Most insectivorous bats eat large quantities of insects (Ross 1967, entire; Black 1974, entire; Kunz 1974, entire; Kunz et al. Approximately 10,527 ha (26,012 ac) of Tribal lands occur within Unit 3, including lands within the Seminole Big Cypress Reservation and the Miccosukee Sherrod Ranch. In October, the organization announced a proposal to designate critical habitat land for the Florida bonneted bat under the Endangered Species Act. 1589, 1591). Fish and Wildlife Service plans to designate an area three times the size of Lake Okeechobee as critical habitat for Florida’s rare bonneted bat. 2017). They are very popular in Charlotte County, specifically, near the Babcock area. Reduced insect populations in urban areas may make it difficult for females to successfully raise offspring to maturity (Kurta et al. Section 4(b)(8) of the Act requires us to briefly evaluate and describe, in any proposed or final regulation that designates critical habitat, activities involving a Federal action that may violate 7(a)(2) of the Act by destroying or adversely modifying such habitat, or that may be affected by such designation. comm. These are the costs we use when evaluating the benefits of inclusion and exclusion of particular areas from the final designation of critical habitat should we choose to conduct a discretionary 4(b)(2) exclusion analysis. The largest land holding within this unit is ENP; other smaller conservation lands also occur within this unit (see Conservation Lands, Supporting Documents). 309-325; O'Donnell 2001, entire; Agosta 2002, pp. 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. The largest land holding within this unit is Everglades National Park; other smaller conservation lands also occur within this unit. corresponding official PDF file on govinfo.gov. 2018a-b; see also Space for Individual and Population Growth and for Normal Behavior and Occupancy at the Time of Listing, above), we chose to retain the 12-km (7.5-mi) radius as a more suitable analysis distance to focus conservation of high-quality foraging habitat nearer to roosts. In practice, situations with a Federal nexus exist primarily on Federal lands or for projects funded by, undertaken by, or authorized by Federal agencies. There is no requirement under the RFA to evaluate the potential impacts to entities not directly regulated. On the brink of extinction, the bat has been devastated by habitat loss to urban and agricultural sprawl and now faces the new threat of climate change driven sea-level rise. 2018a). New survey and life history information further support the identification of these core areas as those that are important for conservation and recovery of the Florida bonneted bat. 2. We used available RCW data layers (mainly active and inactive cavity trees), based upon suggestions from FWC and evidence indicating that Florida bonneted bats use enlarged woodpecker cavities for roosting (Angell and Thompson 2015, entire) (see Cover or Shelter, above). 2015, entire). primary habitats, South Florida Ecological Services Field Office, Florida bristle fern proposed Critical Habitat, U.S. The Florida Bonneted Bat, one of the rarest and most endangered species of bat in the world, is relying on the designation of critical habitat in Florida, partially located in Everglades National Park, for its best chance of recovery and survival. 2018a-b). Conservation of natural and semi-natural habitats and restoration with native plants is imperative to help maintain sufficient prey base. Artificial structures may be more likely to be disturbed, may be more prone to vandalism, and may or may not be maintained. The key factor related to the destruction or adverse modification determination is whether implementation of the proposed Federal action directly or indirectly alters the designated critical habitat in a way that appreciably diminishes the value of the critical habitat as a whole for the conservation of the listed species. 2016, p. 8; Bailey et al. comm., 2013; Ober 2015, p. 3; Braun de Torrez, pers. Such activities could include, but are not limited to: Removal of forest or other areas with large or mature trees and other natural areas with suitable structures (i.e., tall or mature live or dead trees, tree snags, and trees with cavities, hollows, or crevices); suppression of natural fires; prescribed fire conducted in a manner that does not insure protection of large trees and/or snags; timber management or fuel reduction (e.g., thinning); control of invasive nonnative vegetation; habitat conversions or restorations; creation or maintenance of trails or firebreaks; or clearing native vegetation for construction of residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial, or recreational development and associated infrastructure. Bats in south Florida roost primarily in trees and human-made structures (Marks and Marks 2008a, p. 8). 2016, entire). on This bat is found in Florida … In considering whether features are essential to the conservation of the species, the Service may consider an appropriate quality, quantity, and spatial and temporal arrangement of habitat characteristics in the context of the life-history needs, condition, and status of the species. Our mission is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people The majority of Unit 3 is located in Collier County, south of I-75; the remainder occurs in southern Hendry County and mainland portions of Monroe County. comm. Bailey et al. Those surrounding the BCNP roost are 49 percent upland forest, 36 percent wetland forest, 11 percent wetland shrub, and 4 percent freshwater wetlands. 18-20). 12866; however, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has waived their review regarding their E.O. For example, landowners and land managers can help reduce some risks of exposure and improve foraging conditions for the Florida bonneted bat by avoiding or limiting use of insecticides (e.g., mosquito control, agricultural), wherever possible, and especially in areas known to be occupied by the Florida bonneted bat. documents in the last year, 760 Percentages of each of the 10 major land cover categories in each 0.8-km (0.5-mi) grid cell were calculated using the area tool in ArcGIS; these were then used for a series of habitat analyses. Hurricanes, storm surges, and other catastrophic and stochastic events are of significant concern (see Factor E, Environmental Stochasticity and Aspects of the Species' Life History and Climate Change Implications, final listing rule (78 FR 61004, October 2, 2013)). FWS-R4-ES-2019-0106, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. This prototype edition of the 1-28; 2012, pp. Unit 4 consists of 114,372 ha (282,620 ac) of lands in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The primary authors of this proposed rulemaking are the staff members of the South Florida Ecological Services Office. Table 1 lists the approximate area of each critical habitat unit, land ownership, and co-occurring listed species and critical habitat within each proposed critical habitat unit. documents in the last year, 32 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. 1993, entire; Aguirre et al. We determined that a critical habitat designation limited to geographical areas occupied by the species is adequate to ensure the conservation of the species. Private and Other However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of the agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. While exposure to some contaminants (e.g., mercury) may be beyond the realm of what individuals or agencies can rectify, risks from pesticides can be partially reduced at the local level. Some major goals identified in the plan that should benefit the bonneted bat include: (1) Maintaining and restoring ecosystem composition, structure, and function with a special emphasis on rare and endemic communities (e.g., pine flatwoods); (2) using ecological processes such as fire as the primary tool for restoring ecosystems; (3) managing or restoring hydrological function of floodplains, groundwater, lakes, riparian areas, springs, swamps, streams, and wetlands to protect and ensure their quality and ecological functions; (4) conserving, protecting, and recovering endangered and threatened species; and (5) identifying the presence of exotic and invasive species and implementing programs to control or eradicate those species from the installation (U.S. Air Force 2017, pp. comm. The Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat if he determines that the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the critical habitat, unless he determines, based on the best scientific data available, that the failure to designate such area will result in the extinction of the species. 5-6; Milner et al. 2017a-e; Braun de Torrez, pers. A federal agency plans to designate 1.5 million acres of Florida, including land in Charlotte and Sarasota counties, as critical habitat for the endangered Florida bonneted bat. Requests must be received within 45 days after the date of publication of this proposed rule in the Federal Register (see DATES, above). Sites supporting the Florida bonneted bats' breeding activities appear to be required year-round (Timm and Genoways 2004, p. 859; Ober et al. We subsequently evaluated these areas of high-quality habitat using additional occurrence data (June 2014 through 2019) and found a high degree of overlap between these data and areas previously identified in our analyses. 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. More recent information suggests that the Florida bonneted bat may prefer large pines (live and dead) with woodpecker activity for potential roosting, at least in some areas (Braun de Torrez, pers. 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. More information and documentation can be found in our Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action, and no Statement of Energy Effects is required. Unit 4 consists mostly of conservation lands west of the Florida Turnpike. Furthermore, the designation of critical habitat does not affect landowner actions that do not require Federal funding or permits, nor does it preclude development of habitat conservation programs or issuance of incidental take permits to permit actions that do require Federal funding or permits to go forward. However, Federal agencies are prohibited from carrying out, funding, or authorizing actions that would destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. During dry seasons, bats become more dependent on remaining ponds, streams, and wetland areas for foraging purposes, making these precious resources essential (Marks and Marks 2008c, p. 4; 2008d, p. 3). 8 (21) We began by conducting a screening analysis of the proposed designation of critical habitat in order to focus our analysis on the key factors that are likely to result in incremental economic impacts. We have invited these peer reviewers to comment during this public comment period. comm. U.S. Roosts provide sites for resting, digestion of food, social interaction, mating, rearing of young, as well as providing microclimate stability, protection from predators, and protection from sunlight and adverse weather (Kunz 1982, entire; Ormsbee et al. Florida bonneted bat roost under Spanish tile in Coral Gables In Miami-Dade County, frequent hurricanes and habitat loss has eliminated most natural roost options of a large cavity in a dead tree. Register documents. The projection used in mapping and calculating distances and locations within the units was North American Albers Equal Area Conic, NAD 83. 2004, p. 1289; Fukui et al. The INRMP provides conservation measures for the species and management of important upland and wetland habitats on the base (U.S. Air Force 2017, pp. 2017a, entire). All or some of these lands may be excluded from the final critical habitat designation under section 4(b)(2) of the Act (see Exclusions Based on Other Relevant Impacts under the Exclusions section of this rule). 2012). Where ownership is classified as “Unidentified,” it means that ownership of that area could not be determined for one or more of the following reasons: (1) Records within parcel data missing ownership data or marked as no data, abandoned, no value, or reference only (may include roads of unidentified ownership), and (2) areas missing from parcel data for which ownership could not be determined and accurately calculated (e.g., some roads, rights-of-way, and surface waters). Other smaller conservation lands also occur within this unit. 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. We, the U.S. Most of the actions involve monitoring and research, and are not location or habitat-specific (FWC 2013, pp. 2013a-c). A federal agency plans to designate 1.5 million acres of South Florida as critical habitat for the endangered Florida bonneted bat. 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. 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. 2015). 2017d; Gore et al. As discussed above, the role of critical habitat is to support PBFs essential to the conservation of a listed species and other specific areas that are essential to provide for the conservation of the species. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposes to designate approximately 1.5 million acres spanning ten Florida counties as critical habitat for the bonneted bat. 2018, entire), cavity-roosting bats are generally susceptible to fire effects, and even a single, localized fire event could potentially impact individuals (Carter et al. The regulatory mechanism through which critical habitat protections are realized is section 7 of the Act, which requires Federal agencies, in consultation with the Service, to ensure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by the Agency is not likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat. Bats spend over half their lives within their roost environments (Kunz 1982, p. 1). The largest land holding within this unit is the RV Griffin Reserve. 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. 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. Combined with the population of FBB’s using the artificial bat boxes on Zoo Miami grounds (45 individuals, which is the second largest known population in Florida), the Zoo Miami grounds, including the parking area, should be considered as critical habitat for this species. However, other large, tall trees with suitable structure (e.g., hollows, loose bark) may also be suitable. 2016, p. 7). documents in the last year, 65 comm. The finding of a harem structure is particularly relevant from a conservation standpoint for several reasons, as it suggests: (1) The importance of males and maintenance of social groups; (2) that disturbance of the roost at any time can alter social dynamics and impact reproductive success; (3) that augmenting the number of available small roost sites may be necessary to bolster populations (since harem structure may mean small colony sizes, defensible by a dominant male); and (4) additional roost structures may be necessary for dispersing sub-adult males attempting to establish new harems (Ober et al. In accordance with section 3(5)(A)(i) of the Act and regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(b), in determining which areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing to designate as critical habitat, we consider the physical or biological features (PBFs) that are essential to the conservation of the species and which may require special management considerations or protection. 1-6); (b) Surveys conducted in 2008 along the Kissimmee River and Lake Wales Ridge, as part of bat conservation and land management efforts (Marks and Marks 2008c, pp. 2019b; Webb, pers. Although flight distances appear to differ based upon sex and season (Webb, pers. 2009, pp. • Critical habitat is a tool to guide Federal agencies and only affects Federal agency actions or federally funded or permitted activities. 987-992), suggesting that bats seek out areas of concentrated prey sources (Kunz et al. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to designate critical habitat for the Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus) under the Endangered Species Act (Act). While non-Federal entities that receive Federal funding, assistance, or permits, or that otherwise require approval or authorization from a Federal agency for an action, may be indirectly impacted by the designation of critical habitat, the legally binding duty to avoid destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat rests squarely on the Federal agency. 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. 1998, pp. Thanks to a recent lawsuit, our ears are open for news from the U.S. We intend that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best scientific data available and be as accurate and as Start Printed Page 35511effective as possible. Using this information regarding land cover types associated with roost sites, we identified specific habitat types within these cover types that are essential to the conservation of the Florida bonneted bat. Most natural behaviors related to breeding, reproduction, and carrying for young occur within the Florida bonneted bats' roosts. Unit 3 represents the southwestern portion of the species' core areas. comm. Since that time, we have reviewed the available information pertaining to the biological needs of the species and habitat characteristics where the species is located. Roxanna Hinzman, Field Supervisor, U.S. The Florida bonneted bat appears to have a relatively long lifespan, assuming a lifespan of 10 to 20 years for bats of this size (Wilkinson and South 2002, entire). This is a perception, or stigma, effect of critical habitat on markets. Dining mostly in native forests, bonneted bats perform valuable pest control and can be found hanging upside-down or foraging for food in South Florida. Since the species was listed in 2013, a total of 19 natural roosts have been located, of which 12 were found in pines (Angell and Thompson 2015, entire; Webb, pers. headings within the legal text of Federal Register documents. The Service will accept comments regarding the proposed rule or draft economic analysis that are received or postmarked on or before August 10, 2020. Federal Tribal This document proposes a designation of critical habitat for the Florida bonneted bat, an endangered species, in portions of 10 Florida counties. Please refer to the regulations for a description of that exception. Economic analysis. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. 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