Tag Archives: Endangered Species

One thing before the weekend…

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Breeding pairs of our national bird went from 791 in 1974 (just after creation of the Endangered Species Act) to nearly 10,000 today.  Their populations have outperformed wage growth in the United States for nearly a half-century.  The incongruity of a bronze Bald Eagle sitting on the desk of a senator who insists the Endangered Species Act doesn’t work shouldn’t go unnoticed, and should raise a lot of questions in the public’s mind.

Scores of plants and animals have been recovered and delisted since the 1970’s.  The system isn’t perfect, sometimes it’s too little, too late, and by definition, different species are different: our knowledge of their life history and habitat needs are imperfect, and there is no standard strategy which guarantees across-the-board success.  But the Endangered Species Act does work; a species was de-listed just days before draft legislation to “update” the Endangered Species Act was released.

The bill’s gained a lot of support among the ag industry, timber, petroleum, off-road vehicle advocates…plus a head-scratching number of Red State fish and game agencies- Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Arizona.  If you live in those states, I’d suggest contacting your Department and asking what’s up.  The bill ostensibly seeks to increase state-level leadership in endangered species conservation…through the sort of initiatives already in place.  Parts of the bill which really left me scratching my head were:

  • An emphasis on using the best scientific and commercial science available (emphasis mine).  Are we talking about robust, rigorous data collected from private contractors and consultants…or provided by industry lobbyists?

And perhaps more ominously…

  • ” any comment submitted to the Secretary of Interior by a State (as defined in section 3 of that Act (16 U.S.C 1532)) should be afforded greater weight by the Secretary than a comment received from any other individual or entity…

How would this effect groups like Trout Unlimited and their ability to advocate for coldwater fisheries?  Heck, how would it effect my constitutionally protected rights to petition my government?!

Find the entire draft bill here.  I certainly have a lot of questions and if you do too- contact your senator, or the members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Cleaning out the inbox.

GibbonBuff

 

Wyoming Woes

            Changing demographics and the death of 40 hour work week mean outdoor enthusiasts are more likely to watch birds and hike trails than take days off to hunt and fish.  It isn’t bad, but here’s the rub:  state conservation agencies are largely funded by hunting and fishing license sales.  A birdwatcher may not be paying into the system that protects their quarry, a hiker may not be paying into the system that maintains their trails.

            Western state agencies are among the worst off.  More than 90% of the Wyoming Game and Fish department’s funding comes from license sales- the state legislature provides practically no financial support, and many legislators prioritize mining, timber, grazing, and private property interests over stewardship of natural resources.

            The decline in license sales has left state agencies scrambling for new revenue.  One idea is a non-consumptive recreation fee attached to Yellowstone National Park.     The big question is whether revenue would be directed toward non-consumptive activities like hiking and birdwatching, or into the old hook-and bullet crowd.  Time will tell if we can find a compromise- and if hikers, campers, photographers and the like are willing to foot a bit of the conservation tab. .

 

Dolores River Review

I’ve written a bit about tensions on the lower Dolores River in southwest Colorado: Dolores County officials want the lower river protected; officials in neighboring Montezuma County fear protections would impact water extraction and development.

A few days ago, a Colorado court ruled the lower Dolores River should be managed, in part, for the protection of native fish species- specifically flannelmouth sucker and bonytail- fishes of the Colorado River found nowhere else on the planet.

 

Fortress of Solitude

Crazy.  That’s what I thought when I saw the new fly fishing clubhouse in Redding , California.  The new facility provides opportunities to engage the public in fly fishing, casting, tying, and other aspects of the sport- looks pretty neat.

 

One up, one down.

The good news?  Conservation efforts in Texas (of all placess) have led to delisting of the black-capped vireo.

The bad news?  The  Island Marble butterfly, found only in Puget Sound and rediscovered in 1998, is now a candidate for federal listing.  The species only occupies about 800 acres of our entire planet, mostly on public land.  Hopefully that’ll improve its prospects for survival.

Cleaning out the inbox: Two sides.

bonefishing-key-westOne side. 

Florida’s unlike anywhere else in the continental United States- unique ecosystems harboring thousands of species found nowhere else on the planet, shaped by wind and rain, water and tides.  They’re sensitive ecosystems, plagued by human development and associated nutrients, sediment, and the introduction of dozens of non-native species.  Hell Bay Boatworks has been a tireless advocate in the conservation of Florida’s unique aquatic resources- restoring the Everglades, mitigating pollution from agriculture surrounding Lake Okeechobee.

The other. 

We don’t blink an eye at the conservation of panthers or leopards or bison or wolves- species which range hundreds of square miles, species which, globally speaking, are pretty stable.  Little things count, and they’re often ignored.  Take the Panama City Crayfish– whose entire global population covers an area about the size of Disney World.  Of all the species which need conservation attention, those inhabiting such tiny native ranges should be the easiest to protect- they’re not fuzzy or photogenic or cuddly, and when it comes to building new condos or protecting something that looks like it’s out of a sci-fi novel, the spiny-squishy-slimy critters too often lose out.  It’s a shame, because they exist- and they’re worth protecting.

Cleaning out the inbox.

SUnlight

 

More Montana Access Woes.

Maintaining public access for hunting and angling is tough enough in the west- tougher still when you consider different entities may own surface, water, and mineral rights.  That’s the issue concerning Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks lately, in addition to legislative interference and the palatability of developing conservation easements versus outright purchase of ranch properties.

 

Nothing beats a good title.

Fishery Fest Isn’t Wholly Mackerel: Smelts, Salmon in Focus.”  Absolutely brilliant.

 

Proactive Conservation.

The Endangered Species Act should be looked at as triage- the last stop before extinction.  Conservation planning is preventative medicine- identifying species of conservation need and understanding the habitat requirements necessary for survival before they reach a point where large-scale governmental effort and regulation is necessary.   Proactive measures can turn the tide in favor of vulnerable species, making sure expensive but noteworthy conservation efforts aren’t necessary in the first place.

Someone Hug Mitch McConnell.

June-Rhododendron

In a part of the world decimated by logging and mining, The Nature Conservancy and Kentucky’s top Republican have partnered for a $5 million grant to protect 25,000 acres of Appalachian landscape.  The strange bedfellows’ cooperative effort will protect threatened amphibians, bats, birds, crawdads, fish, and freshwater mussels all benefit, with the mixed hardwood and hemlock forests affording carbon sequestration for generations to come.

Let’s take the win.