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FLORIDABIRDS-L  February 2005, Week 3

FLORIDABIRDS-L February 2005, Week 3

Subject:

Article About Collier County RCWs

From:

vlucas <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

vlucas <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 16 Feb 2005 10:20:44 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (125 lines)

All:

Here is an article in today's Naples Daily News with regard to Collier
County's Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. . . .

Go to:

http://www.naplesnews.com/npdn/news/article/0,2071,NPDN_14940_3551193,00.ht
ml

I'm not sure if one has to subscribe to the NDN in order to read the
various articles, so I'm transcribing it here.


Vince Lucas
Naples
[log in to unmask]



County cautiously eyes plan to save woodpecker habitat

By LARRY HANNAN, [log in to unmask]
February 16, 2005

In the next few months, Collier County must decide whether a local
conservation plan for red-cockaded woodpeckers gives the county more
local control or if it creates a layer of government that's not needed.

For the moment, Collier commissioners are moving ahead with a habitat
conservation plan, or HCP, for the woodpeckers. Red-cockaded woodpeckers
are on federal and state lists of protected species.

But the issue is far from settled because some commissioners still have
reservations about the plan.

During a workshop Tuesday, commissioners took a small step forward by
indicating support for a committee that will look at the feasibility of
creating the conservation plan. Commissioners will appoint the committee
in March or April and it will submit a report to commissioners in
September.

Under the current timetable, any HCP wouldn't be put in place until
October 2007. If it goes well, other species might come under a local
conservation plan, too.

An HCP, a component of the federal Endangered Species Act, allows a
developer to harm a protected species in return for protecting wildlife
habitat somewhere else. Increasingly, local governments are using HCPs to
get away from project-by-project permitting and instead to try to achieve
regional conservation, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The creation of an HCP requires an amendment to the county's growth
management plan. An amendment needs the support of a supermajority, which
is four of the five commissioners. It is unclear if that will happen.

Commissioner Jim Coletta is opposed to the conservation plan because he
doesn't think it's needed and Commissioner Tom Henning said he needs to
see a lot more data before he can support it.

Henning said he worries the HCP would just create an unnecessary layer of
government. He wants to see data that convince him that the woodpecker
population is decreasing within the county to the point where the county
needs to step in and create regulations tougher than the current state
and federal rules.

"If we have a species in decline, we can deal with it locally," Henning
said. "If not, we should leave it to the experts (at the state and
federal level)."

Henning agreed to move forward with a committee, but said he would vote
against an amendment unless he saw data that convinced him an HCP is
needed.

"I don't want to make decisions based on emotion," Henning said. "I want
to make it on data analysis."

Collier County officials were unable to produce numbers Tuesday that
showed the woodpecker population is dropping in Collier County. Officials
said the data on this issue are flimsy and they aren't sure they can
produce anything.

Collier County Audubon Society environmental policy advocate Brad Cornell
said the Audubon Society has been doing bird counts within the county for
decades.

Those bird counts show the red-cockaded woodpecker population has been
declining, Cornell said.

Debate over HCPs in Collier County has centered on whether they would too
easily write off individual animals for too little environmental
protection elsewhere.

Tuesday's workshop has been months in the making. Commissioners asked for
recommendations last March. A group of landowners, environmental
advocates, developers, and federal and state wildlife officials has met
seven times to discuss the issues.

Representatives of the various interest groups supported moving forward
with an HCP during Tuesday's workshop. More than a dozen public speakers
expressed support.

The interest groups also favor amending the county's growth plan to
clarify whether the county can go further to protect wildlife than
federal and state agencies do through their permitting process.

Under their proposal, county reviewers would continue to follow federal
and state recommendations as long as any federal and state permit to harm
a protected species comes with mitigation to help that species' overall
population in Collier County.

Commission Chairman Fred Coyle said the HCP is a good idea because, if
the county doesn't have a plan in place, it cedes local control to the
state and federal government on issues like this.

But Coyle also said he needs to see data that convince him the
red-cockaded woodpecker population is decreasing.

____________________________________________________________________________
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