Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Will our project impact the habitat of the Florida Panther?
A. If your project is in Florida, you are probably impacting the historical range of the Florida panther. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with protecting all of Americas’ wildlife resources, is responsible for making the ultimate decision. If you are uncertain, you should consult your environmental professional. They work with in this area daily and should be able to answer your question. You may also contact the nearest USFWS office. As a rule of thumb, any project within or likely to adversely impact the area known as the Florida Panther Focus Area will normally require compensatory habitat mitigation.
Q. Our project lies within the Panther Focus Area, will we need to mitigate for the impact to the habitat of the Florida Panther?
A. It is difficult to generalize, counties may have their own requirements and should be consulted. However, if your project will require a permit from any Federal Agency, that permitting agency is required by the Endangered Species Act to formally consult with the USFWS. This is normally called a “Section 7 Consultation”. (In limited instances there can be other types of consultations). Ultimately, the USFWS makes the determination and informs the permitting agency. Normally, as your project is within the Panther Focus Area, it will require compensatory mitigation.
Q. How do we know how much habitat compensatory mitigation will be required?
A. Ultimately, the USFWS is responsible for determining the appropriate mitigation, both quality and quantity. However, the Service has developed an informal tool that is used to help determine the mitigation required. On a landscape level, the tool looks at the impact site and assigns values to each land/habitat type based upon its value to the Florida Panther. These values are part of the calculus used to determine the mitigation requirement. The same process applies to the mitigation site. Your environmental professional can help you estimate how much, if any compensatory habitat mitigation will be required.
Q. Why should we utilize the services of a commercial habitat conservation bank, such as Florida Panther Conservation Bank?
A. The answer to this question lies at the heart of the success of the mitigation banking industry. The basic answer for most concerns is an economic one. A Conservation Bank, such as Florida Panther Conservation Bank can provide the compensatory mitigation more efficiently and usually at a considerable savings! Additionally, the Conservation Bank assumes all of the risk for the mitigation. As the conservation credits are earned in advance, when transferred there is no risk of failure.