For Immediate Release, February 21, 2020

Contact:

Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190, jlopez@biologicaldiversity.org

More Than 4,000 Acres of Protected Habitat Proposed for Endangered Florida Fern

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed today to protect 4,014 acres of critical habitat for the Florida bristle fern. The fern, found in small patches in Miami-Dade and Sumter counties, is acutely threatened by historic and ongoing habitat loss from development and sea-level rise.

“Just a few years ago, the bristle fern had been pushed to the very edge of extinction,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With this action, there’s hope yet that we can and will save this beautiful Florida native.”

The dainty fern has no roots and grows in moist, shady areas of exposed limestone. Its Miami-Dade rockland hammock habitat has been dramatically degraded due to population growth, and the plant’s populations are now highly susceptible to further habitat loss and inundation by sea-level rise. In Sumter County habitat degradation from development and agricultural activities persist.

Today’s proposal identifies 334 acres of public land in Miami-Dade County and 3,680 acres in Sumter County.

In 2011 the Center reached a historic settlement agreement with the Obama administration to speed protections for the Florida bristle fern, as well as a host of other species previously petitioned for protection. To date more than 200 plants and animals have received protection as a result of the agreement.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.