23 Jan 2010, 2:03pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Marbled Murrelet Remains Threatened

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service News Release, January 20, 2024 [here]

Seabird still needs protection, agency says

Citing continued declines in the population of marbled murrelets in Washington, Oregon and California, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said today the small seabird continues to need the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and will retain its status as a threatened species.

The decision to deny a petition to delist the Washington, Oregon and California population of marbled murrelets is based on strong science and recognition that the tri-state population is distinct from marbled murrelets in Canada and Alaska.

“Overwhelming evidence shows marbled murrelets are in deep trouble in Washington, Oregon and California, and we cannot deny them the protection they need,” said Tom Strickland, the Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.  “This decision strongly reflects the Obama administration’s deep commitment to basing ESA decisions on the best available science.” …

A petition filed in 2008 by the American Forest Resource Council and others sought to remove the Washington, Oregon and California population of marbled murrelets from the list of federally protected species. The petition cited a 2004 Fish and Wildlife Service review that concluded the tri-state population did not qualify as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) under the agency’s DPS policy. The 2004 conclusion was based on a Bush administration determination that there were not significant differences between the birds or their protections in Washington, Oregon and California, and those in Canada.

In 2009, the Service conducted another review of the species, concluding the tri-state population is discrete at the international border.

“We believe the DPS analysis in 2004 was fundamentally flawed,” Thorson said. “The petitioners’ arguments for delisting are based on that flawed analysis.”

The 2009 analysis found that the Washington, California and Oregon population of marbled murrelets is discrete at the international border due to the following reasons: 1) the coterminous United States has a substantially smaller population of murrelets (approximately 18,000) than does Canada (about 66,000); 2) breeding success of the murrelet in Washington, Oregon and California is considerably lower than in British Columbia; and 3) there are differences in the amount of habitat, the rate of habitat loss and regulations between the two countries. … [more]

22 Jan 2010, 5:10pm
Latest Climate News
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UN climate change expert: there could be more errors in report

by Jeremy Page, UK Times, 23 Jan 2024 [here]

The Indian head of the UN climate change panel defended his position yesterday even as further errors were identified in the panel’s assessment of Himalayan glaciers.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri dismissed calls for him to resign over the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change’s retraction of a prediction that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

But he admitted that there may have been other errors in the same section of the report, and said that he was considering whether to take action against those responsible.

“I know a lot of climate sceptics are after my blood, but I’m in no mood to oblige them,” he told The Times in an interview. “It was a collective failure by a number of people,” he said. “I need to consider what action to take, but that will take several weeks. It’s best to think with a cool head, rather than shoot from the hip.”

The IPCC’s 2007 report, which won it the Nobel Peace Prize, said that the probability of Himalayan glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high”.

But it emerged last week that the forecast was based not on a consensus among climate change experts, but on a media interview with a single Indian glaciologist in 1999.

The IPCC admitted on Thursday that the prediction was “poorly substantiated” in the latest of a series of blows to the panel’s credibility.

Dr Pachauri said that the IPCC’s report was the responsibility of the panel’s Co-Chairs at the time, both of whom have since moved on.

They were Dr Martin Parry, a British scientist now at Imperial College London, and Dr Osvaldo Canziani , an Argentine meteorologist. Neither was immediately available for comment.

“I don’t want to blame them, but typically the working group reports are managed by the Co-Chairs,” Dr Pachauri said. “Of course the Chair is there to facilitate things, but we have substantial amounts of delegation.”

He declined to blame the 25 authors and editors of the erroneous part of the report , who included a Filipino, a Mongolian, a Malaysian, an Indonesian, an Iranian, an Australian and two Vietnamese.

The “co-ordinating lead authors” were Rex Victor Cruz of the Philippines, Hideo Harasawa of Japan, Murari Lal of India and Wu Shaohong of China.

But Syed Hasnain, the Indian glaciologist erroneously quoted as making the 2035 prediction, said that responsibility had to lie with them. “It is the lead authors ­ blame goes to them,” he told The Times. “There are many mistakes in it. It is a very poorly made report.”

He and other leading glaciologists pointed out at least five glaring errors in the relevant section.

It says the total area of Himalyan glaciers “will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 square kilometers by the year 2035”. There are only 33,000 square kilometers of glaciers in the Himalayas.

A table below says that between 1845 and 1965, the Pindari Glacier shrank by 2,840m ­ a rate of 135.2m a year. The actual rate is only 23.5m a year. [more]

21 Jan 2010, 2:53pm
Latest Forest News
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Sierra Club names new executive director

By JASON DEAREN, AP, Washington Post, January 20, 2024 [here]

SAN FRANCISCO — Environmental group Sierra Club has named its first new leader in 18 years - an activist who once took over the intercom of a Home Depot to tell customers not to buy lumber from ancient forests.

Michael Brune, 38, replaces Carl Pope in March. Pope served as executive director for the nation’s oldest environmental group since 1992 and will remain with Sierra Club as chairman focusing on the group’s work battling climate change.

Most recently, Brune worked as executive director of the Rainforest Action Network, where he earned a reputation for successfully working to get corporations such as Home Depot and financial companies like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs to adopt more environmentally friendly policies.

Brune now brings his aggressive style of activism to the cherished, 118-year-old environmental group, which is focused on lobbying to speed the country’s transition to more reliance on renewable energy and passage of greenhouse gas reduction legislation. … [more]

20 Jan 2010, 12:26am
Latest Climate News Latest Fire News
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Overnight Evacuations Ordered in Burn Areas for Biggest Storm Yet

KTLA News, 10:29 PM PST, January 19, 2024 [here]

TUJUNGA-Mandatory storm evacuations are in place for several communities in the foothill area of Southern Tujunga previously affected by the Station Fire.

Residents located within La Crescenta, La Canada Flintridge, Acton, and the foothill area of Southern Tujunga, including the communities of Alpine Village, Seven Hills, Blanchard Canyon Road, Tujunga, and Riverwood are very strongly urged to be evacuated by 9:00 a.m. Wednesday morning in anticipation for especially heavy rainstorms due in the area Wednesday afternoon.

Affected residents will be notified through Alert LA County and by door-to-door notification by LA County Sheriff’s Deputies.

The evacuations were ordered by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department Tuesday night.

The third in the week-long storm series was forecast to roll into Southern California Wednesday afternoon, bringing with it downpours, high winds and heavy snow at the higher elevations. It is expected to be one of the most significant storms to hit the area in several years.

Significant amounts of debris and mudslides are feared in areas located in the Station and Morris Fire burn areas. … [more]

18 Jan 2010, 5:54pm
Latest Fire News
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First of 3 Pacific storms hit Southern California; hillside residents prepare for mudslides

LA Times, January 18, 2024 | 11:55 am [here]

The first in a series of powerful Pacific storms began sweeping through Southern California today, causing hazardous driving conditions and high surf and prompting flash-flood warnings for fire-ravaged hillsides.

“It looks like we’re definitely in for a rainy week,” said Bill Patzert, a meteorologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. “It’s going to get heavier and messier.”

Experts said the system — consisting of three major storms — could be among the most powerful to batter the region since 2005, when record rains drenched the area, causing havoc on roads and hillsides.

[Updated at 12:37 p.m.: Just after noon, the National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning for foothill areas burned during last year’s Station and Morris fires in the Angeles National Forest. Heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecast for this afternoon and could produce more than an inch of rain an hour. Weather officials said they are concerned such intense rain could trigger mudslides. Commuters should expect heavy downpours during the afternoon commute.]

The National Weather Service was also predicting high surf and fierce winds gusting up to 75 mph, with substantial snowfall in higher elevations. The risk of flash floods and mudslides is especially severe in communities near burn areas, notably those below the 250-square-mile Station fire zone, where authorities cited a serious threat of mud and debris flows.

Officials have put in place large swaths of sandbags and concrete barriers as a precautionary move, while closing sections of Angeles Crest Highway and Big Tujunga Canyon Road.

“We are prepared to deal with anything that nature may throw at us,” said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Metro of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “Months of preparation have gone on prior to this day.”

Officials have placed 10,000 feet of concrete storm barriers and distributed about 10,000 sandbags, said Pat DeChellis, deputy director of the L.A. County Department of Public Works. No one had yet been evacuated, officials said this morning, and no evacuations were anticipated until Wednesday or Thursday, when the third storm of the week — and potentially heaviest – is expected to roll in.

But early signs of instability are already evident, including a slide of five cubic yards of material that rolled down onto Rock Castle Drive in the La Cañada Flintridge area.

“Debris is starting to move,” DeChellis said.

Although about 75 county firefighting personnel have been dispatched to earthquake-battered Haiti, about 150 area rescue personnel are still ready to react, Metro said. … [more]

11 Jan 2010, 11:58pm
Latest Climate News
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December 2009: Second Snowiest on Record in the Northern Hemisphere

by Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That, January 10, 2024 [here]

According to the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab, last month had the second greatest December Northern Hemisphere snow cover since records were started in 1966. Snow extent was measured at 45.86 million sq. km, topped only by 1985 at 45.99 million sq. km. North America set a record December extent at 15.98 million sq. km, and the US also set a December record at 4.16 million sq. km.

This is not an isolated event for 2009, as can be seen in the graph below. Seventeen of the last twenty-one Decembers have had above normal snow cover.

Nor is it an isolated trend for the month of December. January, 2008 was the second snowiest January on record, and six out of the last eight Januaries have had above normal snow.

October, 2009 was the snowiest October on record in the US, and sixth snowiest in the Northern Hemisphere. Twelve of the last fifteen Octobers have had above normal snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere, similar to the pattern of the 1970s.

A favorite mantra of the global warming community is that reduced snow cover will reduce the albedo of the earth and provide positive feedback to global warming – causing additional warming. Clearly that is not happening, at least not during the October through January time period. … [more, with charts]

11 Jan 2010, 11:55pm
Latest Forest News
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The unintended ripples from the biomass subsidy program

By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, January 10, 2024 [here]

It sounded like a good idea: Provide a little government money to convert wood shavings and plant waste into renewable energy.

But as laudable as that goal sounds, it could end up causing more economic damage than good — driving up the price of raw timber, undermining an industry that has long used sawdust and wood shavings to make affordable cabinetry, and highlighting the many challenges involved in decreasing the nation’s dependence on oil by using organic materials to create biofuels.

In a matter of months, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program — a small provision tucked into the 2008 farm bill — has mushroomed into a half-a-billion dollar subsidy that is funneling taxpayer dollars to sawmills and lumber wholesalers, encouraging them to sell their waste to be converted into high-tech biofuels. In doing so, it is shutting off the supply of cheap timber byproducts to the nation’s composite wood manufacturers, who make panels for home entertainment centers and kitchen cabinets.

While it remains unclear whether Congress or the Obama administration will push to revamp the program, even some businesses that should benefit from the subsidy are beginning to question its value.

“It’s not right. It’s not serving any purpose,” said Bob Jordan, president of Jordan Lumber & Supply in North Carolina, even while noting that he might be able to get twice as much money for his mill’s sawdust and shavings under the program.

“The best thing they could do is forget about it. All it’s doing is driving the price of wood up.”

A range of renewable materials can be converted into energy sources: Wood pellets, rice hulls and fiber from sugar cane can produce electricity; algae and corn cobs can be converted into liquid fuel. The federal government is actively working to support the growth of as many of these biomass crops as possible, in part to meet requirements under the 2007 energy bill: The country must produce 5.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels annually in five years, and 21 billion gallons by 2022. Right now, almost no U.S. land is devoted to raising biomass crops; according to congressional estimates, by 2022 the country will need between 22.2 and 55.5 million acres for this purpose. … [more]

11 Jan 2010, 11:49pm
Latest Wildlife News
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The Wolf War Begins!

By Toby Bridges, Bowhunting.net, Jan 6, 2024 [here]

Back during the mid 1990s (basically 1995-1996), Yellowstone National Parks’ elk herd peaked at around 19,000 animals. The herd was a healthy mix of all ages. And so were the elk herds just to the north and west in Montana. In fact, the state’s elk herd had reached record levels - and for sportsmen, the hunting had never been better. Life was great if you were an elk hunter.

Sound, and still growing, populations of elk could be found throughout most of the state. Likewise, the deer herds across Montana were also thriving, thanks to the same hundred years of dedicated conservation work and the billions of sportsmen provided dollars that funded all of that work. Additionally, ever expanding populations of pronghorn, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat also offered greater and greater hunting opportunities.

Unfortunately, the mid 1990s stand to be remembered as the “Good Ol’ Days” unless an all out effort is made to get a handle on the wildlife equivalent of a deadly virus or cancer which has been unleashed upon all big game found along the Northern Rockies. Reintroduced gray wolves are now making a very serious negative impact on our big game resources in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the first 14 Canadian wolves in Yellowstone, getting the “Wolf Reintroduction Project” kicked off. The following year, they released 17 more wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Area. And from that core of 31 wolves, the number of wolves in and adjacent to the park had increased to 273 by 2002…and Yellowstone’s wondrous elk herd had dropped to less than 12,000.

What particularly worried area hunters, who valued the Yellowstone elk herds that wintered outside of the park, offering tremendous hunting opportunities, was how wolf packs were destroying the next generations of elk during the spring calving period. To sustain a huntable elk herd requires a calf survival rate of about 30-percent. By 2002, the calf to cow ratio of the Northern Yellowstone herd had dropped to only 14-percent. This was due to not only wolf depredation of newborn calves, but also the stress on pregnant cows from being constantly pursued by wolves, which very often resulted in fetuses being aborted. Likewise, elk that are constantly on the move do not have the luxury of fattening up for the winter, and many now go into the harshest weather of the year undernourished.

This past spring, Yellowstone’s elk herd numbered only about 6,000 - about a third of what it was 14 years ago. The average age of the elk back when they were first thrown to the wolves was 4 years of age, today’s average Yellowstone elk is now 8 years old. Without adequate calf recruitment in the spring, this population of geriatric elk is headed for precipitous crash. Unless some very drastic measures are taken to eliminate half or more of the 450 wolves that now share the same range, this herd could be totally lost within the next five years. And as elk numbers continue to drop, the wolves have added most all other wildlife to their menus, now negatively impacting deer, moose, and other big game numbers.

The problem is not limited to just the Greater Yellowstone Area. Despite claims by MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks that elk and deer numbers remain “well above objective”, sportsmen here sure don’t agree. In most of western Montana, where wolves are most prominent, hunter success this past season took a big nose dive. In FWP’s Region 2 (west central), the elk harvest was down 45%…the whitetail harvest was down 50%…and the mule deer harvest was down 45% FROM THE PAST FIVE-YEAR AVERAGE! Likewise, hunters here and many other areas west of the Continental Divide reported seeing the fewest number of elk and deer in nearly 20 years.

Montana sportsmen are losing faith and trust in their wildlife agency, with many now claiming that MT FWP outright lies to them. This is especially true when it comes to the number of wolves that agency claims to be in Montana. For much of the past two years, MT FWP has sounded like a broken record, repeatedly claiming that the state’s wolf population is about 500. Hunters feel that far too much damage has already been done to the state’s elk and deer herds for the number to be that low. … [more]

11 Jan 2010, 11:31pm
Latest Wildlife News
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U of I reinstates Marie Bulgin and finds no evidence of ’scientific misconduct’ in wild sheep controversy

Idaho Statesman 01/04/10 [here]

The University of Idaho reinstated a professor of veterinary medicine that had raised criticism for her comments to a legislative committee about whether disease could be transmitted between wild sheep and domestic sheep.

A school review cleared Bulgin of misconduct and officials said she will resume her teaching and research position under a “conflict management plan.” Here is the full statement released by the university:

In June 2009, news media reported concerns raised by several groups and individuals, including Western Watersheds Project and representatives of the Nez Perce Tribe, about comments Marie Bulgin made in her testimony before the Idaho legislature during the 2009 session and in her written statements in federal litigation relating to transmission of disease between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep.

The university took these reports and concerns seriously and launched a thorough assessment of the facts surrounding her comments. At the outset, the university and Bulgin mutually agreed that she would take leave from her administrative duties at the Caine Veterinary Teaching Center and refrain from conducting research regarding or disseminating research information on sheep diseases during the course of the inquiry.

The university’s assessment was conducted according to its scientific misconduct policy by Vice President for Research Jack McIver, who serves as the institution’s research integrity officer. The university’s policy defines scientific misconduct as “fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It also means any material failure to comply with federal requirements that uniquely relate to the conduct of research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data” (Faculty-Staff Handbook, Section 3230, B-14).

McIver did not find evidence of scientific misconduct in her testimony or written statements.

Bulgin will resume her former role in teaching, research and coordinating the veterinary medicine education program at the Caine Center and the university will begin restructuring overall administration of the Caine Center. Under university policy, Bulgin will operate under an approved conflict management plan that will address, among other things, her private activities as an advocate for the sheep industry. Conflict management plans are part of the university’s Faculty and Staff Handbook (FSH 6240, D-1). Details about an individual’s specific conflict management plan are part of the personnel record and, under Idaho law, are confidential.

11 Jan 2010, 11:16pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Sweden resumes wolf hunting after 45 years to keep population down

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS January 02, 2024 [here]

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Sweden is licensing the hunting of wolves for the first time in nearly 45 years to keep the population at a controllable level.

The near monthlong hunt began Saturday and allows the killing of a total of 27 wolves.

Susanna Lovgren of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency says the hunt follows a parliamentary decision to keep Sweden’s wolf population below 210 animals.

Sweden stopped issuing hunting licenses in the 1965-1966 season when the predator was near extinction in the country. Since then, the population has recovered however, and there are now believed to be between 182 and 217 wolves in Sweden.

Sweden wolf hunt completed in four days

by MARC PREEL, The Age, January 6, 2024 [here]

Sweden’s first wolf hunt in 45 years came to an end on Tuesday after hunters met their quota of 27 kills in just four days, as ecologists blasted the hunt. [Correction: the people who complained were not ecologists]

The final two wolves of the quota were killed in central Sweden on Tuesday, bringing to an end the first wolf hunt since 1964 as a number of hunters reported receiving anonymous death threats. [Unless ecologists make death threats]

Parliament decided in October to limit the country’s wolf population to 210 animals for the next five years.

The cull was meant to run between January 2 and February 15, but hunters killed 20 wolves on the first day, sparking the ire of animal rights activists and local officials. [Whoops -- it turns out that the death threateners were "animal rights activists", not ecologists] …

more »

3 Jan 2010, 12:33pm
Latest Forest News
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Mining association submits coordination plan to county

By SCOTT JORGENSEN, Illinois Valley News, December 30, 2023 [here]

A plan for federal and state government agencies to coordinate with Josephine County has been formulated by members of the Southwest Oregon Mining Association (SOMA).

The Josephine County Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 on Nov. 24 to pass a resolution calling for a coordination plan.

That came after Gov. Kulongoski, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) sent letters to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in support of a proposed mining withdrawal for the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area.

President Clinton proposed the withdrawal in the waning days of his administration, but President Bush never acted on it. However, a series of high-profile disputes involving mining claims in Illinois Valley has prompted questions regarding the jurisdictions of agencies to regulate those activities.

The coordination proposal states that “mining is one of the historical uses of public land and agency management of such use is statutorily compatible within the multiple use principles, where applicable.”

Guiding principles of the document state that “all lands within the county not lawfully removed from mineral entry will remain available for such lawful or beneficial use not limited to exploration, development, occupation and purchase. Any and all existing withdrawn areas shall be reevaluated by the agency for compliance with this plan and brought into compliance without delay.”

Objectives listed in the coordination proposal include an insistence that federal agencies “recognize the private property rights and non-discretionary nature of locatable mining as being distinct from United States, U.S. owned mineral operations of leasable or saleable contract of agency discretion.” … [more]

Note: for more on coordination plans, see [here, here].

2 Jan 2010, 2:46pm
Latest Forest News
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Klamath County Could Get a New State Forest After Lottery Funds Buy 45,000 Acres

KMED AM 1440, Medford, December 29, 2023 [here]

A new state forest in Klamath County could eventually create jobs and bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to the county’s general fund.

The Oregon Board of Forestry is expected to approve purchase of 43,000 acres of the former Gilchrist Timberlands.

The land would be paid for with $15 million in lottery-backed bonds.

A conservation organization plans to purchase another 25,000 acres and sell it to the state, which would pay it off in installments.

Klamath County commissioners must give the plan their stamp of approval.

Federal agencies may have to consider climate before they act

The Obama administration may issue an order that would expand the National Environmental Policy Act’s scope to prevent global warming. The move could open up new avenues to challenge projects.

By Jim Tankersley, LA Times, January 1, 2024 [here]

Washington - The White House is poised to order all federal agencies to evaluate any major actions they take, such as building highways or logging national forests, to determine how they would contribute to and be affected by climate change, a step long sought by environmentalists.

Environmentalists say the move would provide new incentives for the government to minimize the heat-trapping gas emissions scientists blame for global warming. Republicans have opposed it as potentially inhibiting economic growth.

The new order would expand the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, a landmark statute that turns 40 today. The act already requires federal agencies to consider environmental impacts such as land use, species health and air and water quality when approving projects.

By formalizing a requirement to consider effects on climate — a step some agencies already take — the administration would introduce a broad new spectrum of issues to be considered. It could also open up new avenues for environmentalists to attack, delay or halt proposed government actions. The environmental impact statements originally required by the act have become routine battlegrounds for environmentalists, developers and others.

Under the order, agencies would need to account for whether such factors as predicted rises in sea levels would affect proposed new roads along shorelines; or whether, because of temperature changes and species migration, clear-cutting a patch of forest would result in new types of trees replacing the originals.

California lawmakers mandated in 2007 that state-level environmental assessments take climate change into account.

“People will think longer and harder and smarter about what they build when they understand that the environment around them is changing,” said David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club. Bookbinder was one of several environmental lawyers who petitioned the White House in 2008 to formally recognize climate considerations under the act.

The head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley, said in an interview this week that federal agencies “should think about both the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, and the effects of climate change, on decisions they make.” … [more]

Note: from the Wikipedia [here]:

Nancy Helen Sutley leads the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Prior to being confirmed by the Senate to lead the CEQ, she served as the Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment for the city of Los Angeles, California, and as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s appointment to the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Sutley received a Master of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.[3] She was an EPA official during the Clinton administration, and served as special assistant to the EPA administrator in Washington, D.C. Sutley is the first prominent gay person to earn a senior role in Obama’s new administration. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate through unanimous consent on January 22, 2009.

2 Jan 2010, 2:15pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Suit Seeks Kangaroo Rat Delisting - PLF and Riverside County Farm Bureau sue to force action on kangaroo rat

California Farmer, December 30, 2023 [here]

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must stop dragging its feet and issue a delisting decision in response to petitions from the Riverside County Farm Bureau to remove the Stephens kangaroo rat (SKR) from listing under the Endangered Species Act.

So argues a lawsuit filed in federal court by attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), representing the Riverside County Farm Bureau. PLF is the nation’s leading legal watchdog for property rights and a balanced approach to environmental regulations.

“For 14 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been disobeying the legal deadline for properly responding to the Riverside County Farm Bureau’s petition to delist the SKR,” says PLF attorney Damien Schiff. “Now we are asking a federal court to order the agency to get off the dime, obey the law, and issue a decision on SKR delisting.”

The Stephens kangaroo rat was added to the Endangered Species Act list in 1988.

The Farm Bureau argues that the information gathered by the FWS to place the SKR on the endangered list significantly overestimated the threats to the SKR’s survival and significantly underestimated habitat available for the SKR.

The Farm Bureau’s first petition to delist the SKR was submitted on May 1, 1995. Under the ESA, the agency had 90 days to determine whether the petition had merit, but the FWS never responded to the Farm Bureau’s petition.

The historic range of the Stephens kangaroo rat includes western Riverside County, southwestern San Bernardino County, and parts of northern and central San Diego County.

The listing has led to significant restrictions on private property. For instance, to protect the SKR, government officials began restricting brush-clearing by farmers and ranchers. In 1993, after these prohibitions were implemented, intense brush fires destroyed several homes.

The complaint and the 1995 delisting petition are available [here]

 
  
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