In a long and hard fought campaign, environmentalists working to protect Sea turtles are thrilled to announce that the US government has designated more than 739 miles of Atlantic and Gulf coastline as critical habitat for threatened loggerhead sea turtles.
As one of the many working to protect Sea Turtles, which I wrote about here, I am particularly pleased. And as 90% of US Loggerhead nestings occur in Florida, there will be far reaching consequences as pertains to coastal development.
Loggerheads, which make some of the longest journeys of any sea turtle—across entire ocean basins—nest on beaches from Texas to Virginia, but 90 percent of U.S. loggerhead nesting occurs in Florida. This new protection means that any new beachside hotels, homes or commercial construction built on protected beaches that require federal permits would need to be reviewed to prevent harm to nesting areas.
The new protections came about as a result of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana, and Turtle Island Restoration Network, after the government failed to respond to previous petitions filed by the groups dating back to 2007. In 2011, loggerhead sea turtles worldwide were protected as nine separate populations under the Endangered Species Act, triggering the requirement to designate critical habitat.
The government will now accept public comments about the proposal and the protections are expected to take effect in 2014. Stay tuned to hear about ways that you can help ensure that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not withdraw many of these proposed beaches when these protections are finalized.Here(pdf) is information for preparing public comment which must be submitted before May 24,2013, as more information is released I will update.