News Releases

FWC refines gopher tortoise permitting process

News Release

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Media contact: Deborah Burr, 850-410-0656, ext. 17332

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved revisions to its gopher tortoise permitting guidelines on Wednesday during its meeting in Lake Mary.

The FWC approved a management plan for gopher tortoises in September 2007, providing conservation measures to ensure gopher tortoises thrive in Florida. The plan also calls for permitting guidelines to ensure Florida meets the tortoise's habitat needs now and in the future. The guidelines, initially approved in 2008, are revised annually as the FWC learns more from interactions with stakeholders and implementation of the permitting process.

The current revisions came after meetings with stakeholders during the past year. The input received was incorporated into the revisions approved by the Commission.

The revisions to the permitting guidelines are designed to achieve the conservation objectives for the management plan. One objective addresses decreasing gopher tortoise deaths on lands proposed for development through responsible relocation. Another objective calls for relocating gopher tortoises to where they no longer occur or where densities are low.

The revised guidelines clarify mitigation contributions and the 25-foot-avoidance guidelines to prevent habitat islands around burrows. More explicit instructions for permitting and mitigation requirements for juveniles also are a part of the revision. In addition, new guidelines were set for recipient sites used for research and for restocking requirements for public conservation lands.

Mitigation contributions will now be evaluated annually in conjunction with the Consumer Price Index. Proposed revisions for relocating gopher tortoises to public lands were postponed for consideration until further discussions occur with interested parties.

"The gopher tortoise is listed as threatened in Florida, and these revisions to the permitting guidelines will help us achieve gopher tortoise conservation," said Deborah Burr, Gopher Tortoise Management Plan coordinator. "The permitting process continues to be refined, and we'll continue to review the guidelines on an annual basis to be sure we are providing the highest standards for managing the gopher tortoise into perpetuity."

For more information about the management plan go to

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