The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has presented an award to Escambia County for its successful efforts in breaching a divide between developers and wildlife protectors. Federal officials said the county's creative compromise enables beach development while protecting the endangered beach mouse -- clearing a logjam that had held up about 60 projects at Perdido Key, amid two years of arguments among local, state and federal governments over the mouse.
The county's plan -- less costly than typical mitigation efforts and the original proposal -- requires builders to pay $201 per unit constructed, per year, plus a one-time fee of $100,000 per acre. The money will go into a fund to monitor the mouse population and protect its habitat, restore dunes and nourish beaches.