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Dennis A. Ross

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Congressman Ross Cheers Lake Maude Park Green Light from Fish and Wildlife Service

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Washington, November 1, 2017 | J.P. Freire (202-225-0782) | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Dennis A. Ross (R-FL-15), Senior Deputy Majority Whip, cheered the decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to allow construction to commence on Winter Haven’s Lake Maude Park, in advance of the city receiving the required Incidental Take Permit. The Congressman worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service in support of the request. 

“I’m glad that the Fish and Wildlife Service came to understand the importance of this project and that further delays would place it in jeopardy,” said Congressman Ross. “While I’m continuing to work with USFWS to address other projects in my District, this positive outcome shows that we’re making progress.”

In a letter sent on October 26, Congressman Ross urged that USFWS respond and promptly address Winter Haven’s application.

“I write to request your immediate assistance with the City of Winter Haven (City)’s, Florida, efforts to secure an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife (USFWS) for their Lake Maude Park Project. Over the course of the past two years, Winter Haven has repeatedly contacted USFWS about its application for an ITP, and has not received an adequate response from USFWS. …

“The city has acquired all necessary permits involved with the construction of the facility, with the exception of the sand skink’s ITP. Furthermore, the City has completed the bidding process for the project and is ready to award the contract and begin construction. However, should the City not begin construction within the next three months, one of the contractors will pull out of the contract, placing the entire project in financial jeopardy. Any delay in the building process will have adverse effects on the City of Winter Haven and local community.”

The favorable response from USFWS will allow Winter Haven to move forward with the current construction bid, and ultimately helps to avoid delays that could otherwise make the project cost-prohibitive.

The full text of the letter appears below:

The Honorable Ryan Zinke
Secretary
Department of the Interior
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Zinke:

I write to request your immediate assistance with the City of Winter Haven (City)’s, Florida, efforts to secure an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife (USFWS) for their Lake Maude Park project. Over the course of the past two years, Winter Haven has repeatedly contacted USFWS about its application for an ITP, and has not received an adequate response from USFWS.  I respectfully request that the USFWS respond and promptly address the City’s application.

As you are aware, the Florida Sand Skink is a USFWS designated “threatened” species, the habitat of which was identified on property boundaries of the Lake Maude Park project site in 2016. As such, the City and its consultants submitted an ITP application in June of 2016. Throughout the City’s application process, the USFWS has consistently failed to provide updates or even respond to routine inquiries regarding their application review.

The City has acquired all necessary permits involved with the construction of the facility, with the exception of the sand skink’s ITP. Furthermore, the City has completed the bidding process for the project and is ready to award the contract and begin construction. However, should the City not begin construction within the next three months, one of the contractors will pull out of the contract, placing the entire project in financial jeopardy. Any delay in the building process will have adverse effects on the City of Winter Haven and local community.

Given the time constraints upon which the City is operating, I respectfully request and urge the USFWS to work with the City of Winter Haven to immediately respond and address the City’s application. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact my office.  I thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Dennis A. Ross

Member of Congress

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