Deadline for Florida wood stork looms


Author: Reed Hopper

    In light of yesterday's announcement that PLF's petition to delist the valley elderberry longhorn beetle as a protected species under the Endangered Species Act "may be warranted," an update on another PLF petition is appropriate.

    In May of 2009, PLF filed a petition on behalf of the Florida Home Builders Association requesting reclassification of the southeastern U.S. population of the wood stork from "endangered" to "threatened."  That petition was based on a 2007 status review conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that concluded the wood stork population had satisfied many of its recovery goals and should be "downlisted."  When the Service failed to respond to our petition in a timely manner, we filed a Notice of Intent to Sue.  On September 21, 2010, the Service issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing our petition "may be warranted" and that the agency was undertaking a 12-month review of the species.  That review is due for completion by September 21, 2011.  At that time, the Service must announce whether the petition for reclassification "is warranted."  If the Service finds that reclassification "is warranted," the agency must "promptly" issue a proposed rule to effectuate the reclassification. 

Beacuse of the listing, land use restrictions in Florida have been severe.  Therefore the status of the wood stork is of great interest in the Southeast.

The time is fast approaching.