02/10/2012 - 00:00
- Favorable weather conditions, especially recent rains and warm nighttime temperatures, have triggered the emergence of the endangered Houston toad in Bastrop County, one of the toad's few remaining habitats. This is positive indication that toads survived the Labor Day wildfires.
- Temporary debris piles and hazardous trees being removed from public rights of way and private property in Bastrop County during wildfire recovery, especially brush and vegetative debris, may provide artificial habitat for the toad.
- FEMA is obligated under the federal Endangered Species Act to avoid spending taxpayer dollars on rebuilding and other recovery projects that might jeopardize the existence of endangered or threatened species like the Houston toad, or that might destroy or harm its critical habitats.
- To ensure the protection of the Houston toad while maintaining the steady pace of Bastrop County's recovery from the wildfires, FEMA, in accordance with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), has brought in qualified biologists to monitor for the toad.
- The monitors collectively hold federal and state permits allowing them to identify, locate, handle, remove and transport the Houston toad.
- The monitors are accompanying debris removal and public utility crews in Bastrop County to determine whether toads are present in the immediate work area.
- Should the monitors come across a toad during debris removal activities, the monitor will remove and relocate the toad safely, in coordination with USFWS, and work will continue.
- In concurrence with USFWS, FEMA has determined that federally funded debris removal activities "are not likely to adversely affect" the Houston toad in Bastrop County.
- The basis for this determination includes:
- the implementation of required avoidance and minimization measures, including extensive monitoring by qualified biologists;
- the additional implementation of various conservation measures under applicable Habitat Conservation Plans;
- a review of the Houston toad and its habitat requirements, and;
- the assumption that adult toad population numbers are likely low in the project area.
06/26/2012 - 14:44