17 Mar 2010, 11:10pm
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Stupak urges delisting Michigan gray wolf population

SooToday.com, March 16, 2010 [here]

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) has urged the U.S. Department of the Interior to delist the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and complete the transition back to state management.

In a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Stupak noted that estimates from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) place the gray wolf population in Michigan at approximately 580 wolves in 2009, demonstrating a sustained recovery of the gray wolf, which in 1960 had been virtually eliminated from northern Michigan.

“The Endangered Species Act has accomplished its purpose, bringing Michigan’s gray wolf population back from near-extinction to sustainable population levels,” Stupak said. “Given this recovery, it is time to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act and allow the State of Michigan to implement a plan to better meet the needs of northern Michigan.”

There were approximately 20 gray wolves in the Upper Peninsula in 1992, but by 2009 the population had reached as many as 580 wolves.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, gray wolves in northern Michigan and across the Western Great Lakes region have met legal requirements necessary for delisting.

The gray wolf was originally delisted from the Western Great Lakes region in March 2007.

Since that time the gray wolf delisting has been challenged by several lawsuits, most recently in September 2009.

Following that ruling, protections for the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes were reinstated for a third time.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have supported decisions to delist the Western Great Lakes gray wolves. … [more]

17 Mar 2010, 11:10pm
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Minn. petitions to take wolves off endangered list

By STEVE KARNOWSKI AP, March 17, 2010 [here]

Minnesota petitioned the federal government on Wednesday to take the gray wolf off the endangered and threatened species list in the state and give it back the responsibility of managing the animals.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources asked the Department of the Interior to decide on its petition within 90 days.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has tried before to remove federal protections for the gray wolf in Minnesota and the western Great Lakes region. Each time the decision was blocked by court action.

In a statement Wednesday, DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten said federal officials agree that Minnesota’s wolf population is not threatened or endangered and that the state’s management plan would ensure the species’ long-term survival in the state.

“We filed the petition because it is time to have the federal classification match the Minnesota reality,” Holsten said. He also said Minnesota should not have to wait for a resolution of national wolf conservation issues because its population is “fully recovered” already.

The Fish and Wildlife Service returned the wolf in the western Great Lakes region to the endangered list in September to settle a lawsuit by environmental and animal protection groups, including the Humane Society of the United States. The agency acknowledged it failed to hold a legally required public comment period before it took the animals off the list for the region. … [more]

17 Mar 2010, 6:23pm
Latest Wildlife News
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Anti-Wolf Rally Saturday

Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife, March 17, 2010 [here]

If you haven’t heard already, there is going to be a WOLF RALLY in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on March 20th on the Jackson Town Square, 9:00 AM until 2:00 PM.

We are going to show everyone out there just how much we believe that it is past time for the State of Wyoming to take over management of the wolves that have been brought down upon us and our wildlife. We need to come together as one to show everyone out there that we mean business and we are not going to give up.

The Wyoming Outfitters Assn. Is taking the lead on this and we need to be there to back them up

Mission Statement of the ANTI-WOLF RALLY:

Our mission is to draw attention to the crisis at hand caused by the lack of state management of wolf populations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Wildlife in this region have suffered drastic declines over the past 10 years. Some species have seen as much as a 90% decline. Safety of pets and livestock is also a concern to anyone living or recreating in the area. Wolves have and will kill and/or maim both. The heritage and economy of wildlife-oriented industries is in jeopardy of collapse if delisting doesn’t happen immediately.

16 Mar 2010, 9:57pm
Latest Forest News
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Forest travel plan appeals nixed by feds

By Walt Cook, The Union Democrat, March 16, 2010 [here]

The U.S. Forest Service has shot down all appeals to its off-road-vehicle management plan for the Stanislaus National Forest, to the chagrin of several local critics.

The plan is designed to govern motorized travel patterns in the forest for years to come. It could be implemented this spring, according to the Forest Service.

The plan — needed to implement a 2005 federal travel rule — has been in the works for several years.

Among other things, it prohibits travel on hundreds of miles of unauthorized off-road routes within the forest. But it also enters 137 miles of such routes into the official Forest Service route system.

This has resulted in critics from all sides attacking the plan.

The Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Regional office in Vallejo announced last week that all 27 administrative appeals to the plan — specifically, its environmental impact statement — were rejected.

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16 Mar 2010, 9:56pm
Latest Fire News
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Legislation aims to cut national wildfire costs by reducing reliance on other agencies

By BEN GOAD and DUG BEGLEY, The Press-Enterprise, March 13, 2010 [here]

Better pay and benefits and increased legal protection for the nation’s federal firefighters are needed to help reign in the increasing costs of battling wildfires across the country, say proponents of a bill making its way through Congress.

Compensating firefighters for all the time they spend at fire scenes and extending year-round health benefits to part-timers would help curb defections from the agency, they say. By strengthening its own ranks, the bill’s supporters say, the Forest Service would have to rely less on costly assistance from local and state fire departments.

Additionally, the legislation seeks to recognize the dangerous nature of firefighters’ work by changing their titles from “forestry technician” or “range technician” to “wildland firefighter.” It also would raise the mandatory retirement age from 57 to 65 in an effort to keep more veterans within the agency.

“If we can retain some of the younger folks that have been hopping ship, and we can keep some of that brain trust around for a few more years, we have a better opportunity to fill in the missing gaps of those federal resources,” said Casey Judd, business manager for the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association, which represents federal firefighters nationwide. … [more]

15 Mar 2010, 9:29am
Latest Forest News
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850,000 Acres and 34 Wilderness Area Designations

No Access, No Jobs, No Recreation for Coloradans

House Natural Resources Committee Republican Press Office, March 11, 2010 [here]

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands will hold a hearing on H.R. 4289, the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2009. The bill will lock up 850,000 acres of land in Colorado from future recreation, public access and energy job development by designating 34 separate locations as Wilderness Area.

Get the Facts

* Under H.R. 4289, 850,000 acres of land would instantly become off limits. Conveniently, none of this land is located in the district of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Diane DeGette (CO-01).

* Rep. DeGette’s chief of staff recently admitted, “Many of the lands are endangered by drilling” — recognition that these are energy rich lands that could be used to create more jobs for Coloradans and help reduce our dependency on foreign energy.

* Currently the oil and natural gas industry supports 190,408 jobs in Colorado, adding $24.1 billion to the state’s economy. Some of these jobs and future high paying jobs in the oil and gas industry will be in jeopardy with nearly a million acres of new Colorado Wilderness Area designations.

* The DOI and Forest Service has not done extensive analysis of all the areas that are proposed to be designated as Wilderness but it’s possible that less than 10% of it meets Wilderness criteria outlined in the Wilderness Act of 1964.

* The bill would have massive ramifications on water rights in the state of Colorado, which in turn would have a devastating impact on agriculture and ranching in the state.

* Roads, trails and other access points for mountain biking, off highway vehicles and other recreational opportunities will be severely affected if not eliminated all together.

* Nearly 108 million acres of federal land in the United States is already designated as Wilderness Area that the government can’t properly maintain. Yet the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress continue to look for new opportunities to acquire even more government land.

* Recently obtained internal Department of Interior documents show Secretary Salazar already has plans to lock up 13 million acres of western land by means of the Antiquities Act, which only requires an executive order by the president.

* Congressional Democrats also have intention to usurp even more land for Wilderness designation: H.R. 980, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, would add 24 million acres as Wilderness and H.R. 1925, the Red Rock Wilderness Act, would force one-fifth of the entire State of Utah into Wilderness Area. Ironically the sponsors of both pieces of legislation live thousands of miles away from the western lands and economies that the bills will ultimately harm.

14 Mar 2010, 8:40pm
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Cold kills record number of manatees

Florida winter stresses manatees

BY TIMOTHY O’HARA, Key West Citizen, March 13, 2010 [here]

The largest die-off of manatees in recorded history has taken place in Florida as a result of the state’s prolonged, record-low temperatures this winter.

A total of 368 manatees have died in Florida waters so far this year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The unprecedented number of deaths in less than three months is just 61 shy of the number of manatees that died in all of 2009, 429, which itself was a record, said Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee Club’s director of science and conservation.

FWC records show that 193 manatees died from cold stress from Jan. 1 through March 5. Another 151 deaths have been classified as undetermined, but the majority of these likely were caused by cold stress, officials said. The total manatee population in the state is about 3,800.

“Although air temperatures are starting to increase, it will take some time for water temperatures to rise,” Tripp said. “A number of manatees are still in need of rescue for cold stress, but all three critical care facilities are at or near capacity.”

Many manatees succumbed quickly to cold water temperatures, but several dozen were rescued and taken to three facilities in Florida that are authorized to provide critical care for sick and injured manatees. … [more]

14 Mar 2010, 8:39pm
Latest Wildlife News
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NatGeo’s “Wolf Wars” Flacks for Radical Greens

by William F. Jasper, New American, 11 March 2010 [here]

“Wolf Wars,” the cover story for the March 2010 issue of National Geographic, may seem, at first read, to be a “balanced” report on the ongoing battle pitting ranchers, hunters, recreationists, and conservationists of the Rocky Mountain states against Big Green environmentalists and Big Government (federal and state) bureaucrats. Author Douglas Chadwick does, after all, seem to report sympathetically on the plight of ranchers like John and Rae Herman of Montana’s Hot Springs area, whose 800-head Angus cattle operation has been hard-hit by wolf predation. However, like most media reporting on wolves, his article hymns the supposed overall benefits of the reintroduction of Canis lupus to the ecosystem.

Chadwick’s National Geographic piece also follows the typical media route of uncritically accepting the numbers provided by government agencies that have a history of fudging the facts and a concentrated interest in continuing to cook the books. “During 2008, wildlife agents confirmed 569 cattle and sheep deaths from wolves throughout the West,” he reports. “That amounted to less than one percent of livestock deaths in the region.” However, there is abundant anecdotal evidence that the aforementioned “wildlife agents” often go to great lengths to minimize and drastically undercount the predation by wolves. This writer has interviewed ranchers in Idaho and Washington over the years who have recounted many instances in which state and federal wildlife personnel have disputed and dismissed livestock losses that were indisputably due to wolves.

A rancher who comes upon the half-eaten carcass of what was shortly before a prize Angus knows that he is not automatically going to be compensated by the state/federal wolf compensation fund, even if the carcass is surrounded by wolf tracks and wolf scat, and even if he or another person earlier witnessed a wolf or wolves attacking or harassing cattle in the area. The wildlife agents are likely to claim that the evidence points to wild dogs, a bear, or a cougar as the culprits, rather than wolves.

Chadwick halfway acknowledges this problem, noting: “Many say in some areas the actual kills by wolves may average as high as seven for every one that can be proved, but no confirmation, no compensation.” Of course, if the totals were seven times the reported number, we’d be talking about 4,000 cattle, not 569, and considerably more than one percent of cattle deaths. The same goes for sheep, as well as the wild ungulates — deer, elk, moose, sheep, caribou — whose populations are being devastated by the wolf packs that are rapidly multiplying throughout the West.

Chadwick also accepts without question the official wolf count for the Idaho-Washington-Montana region, even though some game biologists assert that the actual wolf population is double the official census. According to Chadwick, the wolf population has “now grown to around 1,600, roaming the region in more than 200 packs.” However, as we pointed out last November in an extensive article on wolves (”Wolves Will Thrive Despite Recent Hunts”), there is reason to believe the real number is 3,000 — or more. We reported on the work of Professor Charles Kay, a renowned wildlife biologist, and linked to several of his articles exposing the fraudulent data and manipulative methods used by government bureaucrats and enviro-extremists posing as scientists to justify increasing restriction on human access to, and use of, both public and private lands. … [more]

14 Mar 2010, 8:20am
Latest Wildlife News
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USFWS Reopens Comment Period for Proposed Bull Trout Critical Habitat Revision

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News Release, March 12, 2010 [here]

New comment period closes April 5, 2010

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced its intent to reopen the comment period for the proposed critical habitat revision for bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), a threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The original closing date for comments on the proposed critical habitat designation and the draft economic analysis was March 15, 2010. Due to Federal Register publication processes, the comment period could not be extended and therefore the Service will pursue a new comment period. The notice has not yet published in the Federal Register but the Service is announcing that the new comment period will close April 5, 2010.

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14 Mar 2010, 8:19am
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Sage grouse not listed under ESA; WWP sues

BY TODD ADAMS, Challis Messenger, March 11, 2010 [here]

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Friday announced that the greater sage grouse warrants the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) but that listing the species now is precluded by the need to address higher-priority species first.
Western Watersheds Project (WWP) in turn announced Monday that it is suing the agency for not actually listing sage grouse.

Sage grouse will be placed on the FWS candidate list, meaning the species will not receive protection under the act for now. State fish and wildlife agencies will continue to be responsible for managing the birds.

The WWP lawsuit charges that the federal government violated the ESA and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“The Obama administration rightfully concluded that the greater sage-grouse fully qualify for the protections of the Endangered Species Act,” said Jon Marvel, WWP executive director in a news release. “Unfortunately, the administration has violated the law in not listing the sage-grouse at the same time.” … [more]

11 Mar 2010, 11:24pm
Latest Forest News
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Montana Wood Products Association backs effort to stop using EAJA funds for litigation

Clark Fork Chronicle, March 09 2010 [here]

Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg is a cosponsor of the Open Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) of 2010, with bipartisan supporters from other Western states. The legislation reinstates oversight and transparency measures for taxpayer payments made to organizations through the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).

“I think Montanans would be outraged to learn that huge national special interest groups with multi-million dollar endowments are bankrolling thousands of lawsuits with tax dollars meant for small businesses, individuals and non-profits,” said Rehberg a member of the House Western Caucus. “It’s one thing to have access to the courts, but it’s another to force taxpayers to pay for it. Since 1995, the federal government has inexplicably stopped tracking how it spends these funds, and it’s time to restore the transparency and accountability.”

Originally passed in 1980, EAJA was meant to help provide fair access to legal remedies for individuals, small businesses and non-profits with limited means. It does this by reimbursing attorney’s fees for plaintiffs who sue the federal government if they win the case or settle out of court. The original legislation required annual reports to Congress on the amount and nature of EAJA payments, but those reports ended in 1995.

Two private studies, one by a Wyoming law firm and another by Virginia Tech University, have shown that despite congressional intent to assist small organizations, some large environmental obstructionist groups appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of EAJA payments. The Wyoming study, for example, found that more than 1,200 federal cases were filed in 19 states and the District of Columbia by just 14 environmental groups. The cost to the taxpayer was $37 million.

The Open EAJA Act reinstates and consolidates tracking and reporting requirements under the Department of Justice (DOJ), and requires the DOJ to publish a public online, searchable database of EAJA payments. It would also authorize an audit of the last 15 years, during which the fund has operated with absolutely no oversight.

“The hard working folks of the Montana Wood Products Association appreciate Rep. Rehberg signing on to the Open EAJA Act of 2010,” said Ellen Simpson, the Executive Vice President of the Montana Wood Products Association. “Changes in EAJA are sorely needed to shine a bright light on obstructionists who have made a cottage industry out of suing the Forest Service to stop active management on Montana’s national forests. The taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent and who benefits while the forests die. The Open EAJA Act of 2010 will provide that information.”

11 Mar 2010, 11:23pm
Latest Forest News
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GAO report finds 3 Montana groups among top litigators

by Ellen Simpson, Clark Fork Chronicle, March 10 2010 [here]

There is within the United States government an entity called the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with the charge of examining, upon request of Congress, various functions within federal agencies. A request was made by Senator Bingaman and Representative Rahall asking the GAO to review appeals and litigation filed against Forest Service projects for fiscal years 2006 to 2008.

Stated in the report, which can be found on the GAO website, nationwide in the nine regions of the Forest Service covering 108 national forests 18 percent of proposed projects were appealed while 2 percent continued on to litigation. If those numbers applied to Region 1 where Montana’s national forests are located, the subject would probably be moot. The reality is the nationwide numbers do not apply to Region 1 and in fact, the numbers here greatly skew the totals.

In the use of mechanical treatment and commercial logging, four of the regions had zero lawsuits on proposed Forest Service projects, three regions had three percent or less while Region 1 had eight percent lawsuits on proposed projects.

Nationwide there were ten entities that appealed ten or more decisions with three of those located in Montana. They are the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Native Ecosystems Council, and the WildWest Institute. The same is true of the 29 lawsuits filed nationwide with the same three entities acting as plaintiff in five or more decisions.

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11 Mar 2010, 4:10pm
Latest Climate News
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Climategate Stunner: NASA Heads Knew NASA Data Was Poor, Then Used Data from CRU

New emails from James Hansen and Reto Ruedy show that NASA’s temperature data was doubted within NASA itself, and was not independent of CRU’s embattled data, as has been claimed.

by Charlie Martin, Pajama Media, March 10, 2010 [here]

Email messages obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute via a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that the climate dataset of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) was considered — by the top climate scientists within NASA itself — to be inferior to the data maintained by the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU).

The NASA scientists also felt that NASA GISS data was inferior to the National Climate Data Center Global Historical Climate Network (NCDC GHCN) database.

These emails, obtained by Christopher Horner, also show that the NASA GISS dataset was not independent of CRU data.

Further, all of this information regarding the accuracy and independence of NASA GISS data was directly communicated to a reporter from USA Today in August 2007.

The reporter never published it. … [more]

11 Mar 2010, 3:51pm
Latest Climate News
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California global warming law may lead to job losses, report says

The state’s nonpartisan legislative analyst’s office says the losses could occur in the short term. State Sen. David Cogdill uses the report to criticize climate regulation.

By Margot Roosevelt, LA Times, March 10, 2010 [here]

Debate over the economic effects of California’s first-in-the-nation global warming law flared this week, with a report saying short-term job losses can be expected.

The state’s nonpartisan legislative analyst’s office examined 2008 economic modeling by the California Air Resources Board and concluded that it “may overstate the number of jobs” attributable to future implementation of the 2006 climate law.

While acknowledging the uncertainty of such projections, the report said, “On balance, however, we believe that the aggregate net jobs impact in the near term is likely to be negative, even after recognizing that many of the . . . programs phase in over time.”

The report comes at a politically charged moment, when polls show employment to be Americans’ top concern. Signature gathering began last week on a November ballot initiative that would delay the law, known as AB 32, until unemployment drops to 5.5% for at least a year. California joblessness is over 12% today.

The report came in response to a query from Sen. Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto), a critic of the law. Released by Cogdill on Monday, the report emphasized that job effects are “difficult to accurately predict . . . with gains in some occupations (including so-called green jobs) and losses in others (primarily involving fossil fuel-related energy production).” … [more]

11 Mar 2010, 3:50pm
Latest Forest News
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Jurisdiction at the heart of “roadless” rule battle

By Bruce Finley, The Denver Post, March 11, 2010 [here]

Government and industry attorneys squared off in a federal appeals court Wednesday over how strongly to protect the nation’s last “roadless” forests.

Judges for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals zoomed to the core of a long-running conflict: whether the Clinton administration overstepped its authority in establishing the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which bans logging and road-building on 58.4 million acres of national forest.

At issue is whether, by outlawing roads in large swaths of public land, the executive branch effectively created new “wilderness” areas. A wilderness declaration can be made only by Congress, lawyers for the mining industry argued.

In addition, mining interests argue that lawful procedures weren’t followed before the roadless order was issued.

The move to protect this public land as “roadless” looked like a rush job “to lock it up” before Clinton left office, Senior Judge Stephen Anderson said. … [more]

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