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U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE PROPOSES TO PREPARE RULE ESTABLISHING MANATEE PROTECTION AREAS

 U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE PROPOSES TO PREPARE RULE
 ESTABLISHING MANATEE PROTECTION AREAS
 ATLANTA, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has filed notice of its intent to propose manatee protection areas in Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge.
 The Service will propose to establish the areas in the event a state manatee protection plan is blocked.
 Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, particularly its tributaries, is extensively used year-round by Florida manatees, especially by the Blue Springs subpopulation. The Blue Springs manatees, now numbering over 60, are one of the few groups that may be increasing in population size.
 Manatee experts agree that high-speed boats are the greatest threat to the manatees' survival. In Volusia County, where the refuge is located, the number of registered boats has increased 78 percent in the last 10 years, and the number of manatees killed by boats has more than doubled. As the number of boats and manatees continues to grow, so does the likelihood of collisions.
 A state rule adopted in June 1991 limited speeds in Lake Woodruff's tributaries to 5-7 miles per hour from the Norris Dead River to the Ziegler Dead River. The state rule has been challenged, however, and there is a possibility that speed zones could be revoked, allowing boats to travel at maximum speed.
 The Service believes that, in the event the state rule establishing speed limits is revoked, the establishment of manatee protection areas in the refuge will prevent additional manatee deaths and injuries.
 The Service will collect written public comments on its notice of intent to establish manatee protection areas for the next 45 days. Comments on the plan should be sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 3100 University Boulevard South, Suite 120, Jacksonville, FL 32216.
 -0- 2/7/92
 /CONTACT: Vicki M. Boatwright or Tom Thomas, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 404-331-3594/ CO: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ST: Florida IN: SU: EXE


TG-BN -- AT008 -- 7832 02/07/92 13:53 EST
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Date:Feb 7, 1992
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