(excerpted from FWC Disaster Preparedness Plan - 2012 )
Due to safety concerns that are inherent to hurricanes and other disasters, the following procedures for closing and reopening FWC-managed areas are recommended. These areas include wildlife management areas (WMAs), wildlife and environmental areas (WEAs), small game hunting areas, fish management areas (FMAs), public use areas, etc.
Closing FWC-managed Areas
- Regional Leadership Teams (RLT) will evaluate all FWC-managed areas in their respective regions to determine if proactive closures are warranted for each parcel when a hurricane or other natural disaster is threatening. Evaluations should include the following issues: public safety, employee safety (do we have manned check stations, etc.), access, and security of property and equipment.
- RLTs will make evaluations before each hurricane season and develop a "Proactive Closure List" for their region. This list could include areas that will limit vehicular access rather than total closure, e.g. allow walk-in access.
- FWC will proactively close areas where we are the lead managing agency.
- Cooperating area managers will be encouraged to follow our protocol for areas on the "Proactive Closure List;" however, we will assist these agencies with their closing and reopening decisions.
- FWC will post closed areas with signs when possible.
- Closure will occur approximately 48 hours from the estimated impact of hurricane-force winds and projected path of the storm.
- Special circumstances may require closure of areas not in line with the above standard. Examples are for fire, mandatory evacuations and flood. In addition, managed areas may be closed after a severe storm event because of post-event circumstances, e.g. safety hazards, downed trees, downed power lines, resource concerns, etc.
- Official closures will occur at 1 a.m. unless an immediate closure is necessary.
- RLT or RD will send the Internal Communications Director (Community Relations Office) (or designee) the closing notice to post on our website by close of business the day prior to the closing unless an immediate closure is necessary. This notice will be copied to the regional email group and to the _Emergency email group.
- The following RLT members will meet prior to approaching storms to ensure regional coordination: RD, HSC, HGM, LE and appropriate public information coordinator (PIC). Other RLT members will be encouraged to attend if possible.
Reopening FWC-managed Areas
- The following RLT members will meet post-disaster to ensure coordination of assessment or recovery efforts: RD, HSC, HGM, LE and PIC. Other RLT members will be encouraged to attend if possible.
- Opening will occur after the FWC-managed area is assessed. Assessments will include access and safety-related issues, flooding, road conditions, wildlife impacts and other items as appropriate. Please note that managed areas may be partially opened, opened without vehicle access, opened with specified road closures, etc.
- FWC's priority is to assess areas where we are the lead agency and encourage cooperating agencies to assess their areas and advise. As time allows, FWC personnel can assist cooperating agencies with their assessments.
- If an FWC-managed area is not affected, but closed because of evacuation orders, it will reopen as soon as FWC personnel are in place and the opening announced.
- Official openings will occur at 1 a.m.
- RLT or RD will send the notice of opening to the Internal Communications Director (or designee) for posting on our website by noon the day prior to the reopening. Exceptions are possible for offices that regain phone or electric service later in the day. This notice will be copied to the regional email group and to the _Emergency email group.