For Immediate Release, December 21, 2022
Elise Bennett, (727) 755-6950, email@example.com
Nearly 4,200 Acres of Habitat Protected for Endangered Florida Fern
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected 4,195 acres of critical habitat for the endangered 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.
“It’s a relief that this festively bright green fern has finally received the protections it needs to save its swiftly disappearing habitat,” said Elise Bennett, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Protecting places for the beautiful Florida bristle fern to survive is a crucial step in bringing it back from the brink of extinction.”
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 because of population growth. The plant’s populations are now also highly susceptible to further habitat loss and inundation due to sea-level rise. In Sumter County, habitat degradation from development and agricultural activities continues. Only six populations of Florida bristle fern are known to exist in the world.
Today’s proposal identifies 515 acres of land in Miami-Dade County and 3,680 acres in Sumter County as protected critical habitat. In response to public comments and new information, the final rule protects approximately 91 acres more than the original proposal.
The rule also includes new unoccupied critical habitat that is essential for the fern’s conservation, providing more diverse areas for the species to recover and adapt to changing conditions.
Species with federally protected critical habitat are more than twice as likely to be moving toward recovery than species without such protections. Federal agencies that fund or permit projects in critical habitat are required to consult with the Service to ensure this habitat is not harmed or destroyed by their actions.
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 that the government had been previously petitioned to protect. 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.