Help plan the future of Florida Keys Wildlife and Environmental Area

Jan 30, 15 Help plan the future of Florida Keys Wildlife and Environmental Area

Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291, Liz Barraco, 850-556-2269

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is presenting a 10-year plan for the Florida Keys Wildlife and Environmental Area at a public hearing Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Monroe County.
People are invited to the 7 p.m. public hearing at the Harvey Government Center, second floor, 1200 Truman Ave., Key West.
Staff will present the draft land management plan for FWC-managed portions of the Florida Keys, and people will be encouraged to comment and ask questions. For more information on the upcoming local public hearing, go to MyFWC.com/Conservation and select “Terrestrial Programs” then “Management Plans.”
The Florida Keys WEA consists of small sites on the chain of islands stretching from Key Largo almost to Key West. It contains some of the best examples of undisturbed tropical hardwood hammocks in Florida. Many of the wildlife species here are imperiled and found nowhere else in the U.S., including diminutive Key deer and brightly colored Liguus tree snails. Other species found in the WEA include the white-crowned pigeon, Lower Keys marsh rabbit, Key Largo cotton mouse, Big Pine ring-necked snake, Florida Keys mole skink, Lower Keys striped mud turtle and Stock Island tree snail.
Tropical hardwood hammocks also function as a critical stopover for scores of migratory birds. In the fall, the birds feed on berries and insects and rest here before heading south over open waters to Caribbean islands and Latin America. They return on their way north in spring.
“The Florida Keys WEA was purchased to ensure the preservation of fish and wildlife resources, other natural and cultural resources, and for fish- and wildlife-based public outdoor recreation,” said Rebecca Shelton, FWC land conservation biologist. “This draft plan will specify how we intend to do that.”
All lands purchased with public funds must have a management plan that ensures the property will be managed in a manner consistent with the intended purposes of the purchase. Hunting and fishing regulations are not included in this plan or meeting; those are addressed through a separate public process.
Florida KeyTo obtain a copy of the draft land management prospectus for the Florida Keys WEA, call Peter van de Burgt at 850-487-9982 or email Peter.Vandeburgt@MyFWC.com.
For more information and background details on management plans and their goals, visit MyFWC.com/Conservation and select “Terrestrial Programs” then “Management Plans.”
For more on the Florida Keys WEA,  go to MyFWC.com, click on “”Wildlife Viewing” then “Wildlife Management Areas.” Select “WMA of your choice” and look under “Lead Areas.”

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