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Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the Soda Mountain Solar Project over the objections of wildlife and desert conservation advocates, scientists, the BLM’s Desert Advisory Committee, five former National Park Service superintendents and local citizens. The project is a massive 264-megawatt solar energy plant located only one mile from the border to the Mojave National Preserve, right in the heart of the California desert.
As part of an effort to reduce the impacts associated with utility-scale solar development on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gave the green light to the first projects within a Solar Energy Zone – an area identified by the agency for solar development. The final environmental review documents were released today for projects at the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone located in Clark County, outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a significant step in the implementation of the BLM’s Solar Energy Program, which aims to reduce impacts on wildlife and habitat related to solar energy development.
Wildlife biologists just confirmed that the wolf-like animal shot by a hunter outside of Kremmling on April 26 was an endangered gray wolf.
Today Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the release of fourteen remaining proposed final Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service conservation plans for the greater sage-grouse, an imperiled species that lives on more than 60 million acres of public lands in the American West.
Defenders of Wildlife today applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for resolving confusion created by previous court decisions about Clean Water Act jurisdiction, restoring protections for 60 percent of the nation’s wetlands and rivers and helping one in three Americans gain better access to uncontaminated drinking water.
Today the House of Representatives voted to include in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) an amendment proposed by Rep. Lucas (R-OK) which jeopardizes the recovery and continued existence of the lesser prairie chicken and American burying beetle by removing their protections under the Endangered Species Act and preventing future listing and conservation action.
A bill that would have given control of state bison management to county politicians instead of state Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists – a proposal rejected by three-fourths of Montanans according to recent polling – was vetoed yesterday by Montana Governor Steve Bullock. The move was applauded by Native American tribes, conservation organizations and hunters who strongly opposed the bill citing concerns that it would have created a patchwork of inconsistent laws across the state, wreaking havoc on wild bison restoration in Montana and undermining state wildlife management authority.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today published a preferred route for the TransWest Express transmission corridor through four western states that would have harmful impacts on greater sage-grouse, desert tortoise and other wildlife. The BLM rejected less destructive alternative routes that could have been built on already disturbed lands and along existing corridors, such as state highways. Instead, the selected alternative cuts through important wildlife habitat, including core sage-grouse habitat identified as a priority for conservation by state and federal biologists in Colorado. Today’s decision comes just a month before federal conservation plans will be released for greater sage-grouse in Colorado and across the West.
In March 2015, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the D.C. District Court issued an order rejecting an extractive industry challenge to the Obama Administration’s National Forest Management Act 2012 Forest Planning Rule. The challenge alleged that the rule inappropriately requires the U.S. Forest Service to use science and conservation biology when creating new forest plans, which guide management on 191 million acres of national forests. On April 28, the judge issued her opinion setting forth the basis for her decision.
The first gray wolf known to travel west of the Cascade Crest in Washington state was confirmed this week after local officials found it killed by collision with a vehicle on Interstate 90 between North Bend and Snoqualmie. Despite this wolf’s unfortunate death, conservation organizations see its dispersal this far west as an encouraging sign of progress in wolf restoration.