The pressure is on the Monroe Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to relax or remove restrictions on development in Big Pine and No Name Keys that currently exist to protect Key Deer and Lower Keys Marsh Rabbits.
On July 18th, Last Stand presented a statement to the BOCC, an excerpt of which follows:
For over 25 years Last Stand has consistently spoken out to protect the fragile environment of the Florida Keys, and has specifically addressed this body on several occasions about necessary protection for the endangered Key deer population.
Last Stand urges you to maintain the status quo and to allocate permits in accordance with the Habitat Conservation Plan’s Incidental Take Permit.
Last Stand commends the County on the progress to date in acquiring mitigation properties required by the Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit. We also encourage you to continue to accelerate purchase of properties on Big Pine Key and No Name Key for the Key deer and other federally listed species.
The reasons we need special protection for Key deer and Lower Keys marsh rabbit habitat have not changed in a positive direction. The staff report highlights that Key deer mortality related to human activity has exceeded the Incidental Take Permit plan limits each year since 2009. Increasing the development of residential and/or commercial sites within this critical habitat will certainly add to the environmental stresses on the multiple protected species present on Big Pine and No Name Keys.
Given that the HCP Model showed that the Key deer as a species were at risk for extinction without any further development, it is only logical the current low level of development, as authorized by the Incidental Take Permit, should to be maintained.
Please consider the unique resource that the citizens of Monroe County are responsible to protect and preserve. Your clear choice today is to maintain the status quo.
Last Stand also joined with the Key Deer Protection Alliance and the Everglades Law Center to send a clear letter to the BOCC outlining the reasons for maintaining or strengthening the Habitat Conservation Plan and its associated protections.
Last Stand will continue to monitor this situation to help ensure that habitat for endangered species is preserved through sustainable development policies.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Big Pine Key/No Name Key Habitat Conservation Plan Frequently Asked Questions
Please visit our friends at the Key Deer Protection Alliance for more information on Key Deer.