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Sally Jewell makes her first trip to Alaska as Secretary of the Interior this week, and will visit some of the state’s most wild and special places, including the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The secretary will likely make an announcement by year’s end that will determine the fate of this and other of Alaska’s irreplaceable wilderness lands, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is continuing to push the proposal to build a costly, unnecessary road that would bisect the biological heart of Izembek.
Thirty-four genetically pure, disease-free Yellowstone bison were transported within Montana from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation to Fort Belknap Indian Reservation yesterday. These animals will start a new cultural bison herd on tribal lands – the second herd of bison from Yellowstone National Park to be restored to the Great Plains. Fort Belknap Fish and Wildlife has fenced 900 acres as a temporary “surveillance pasture” for the bison, and will eventually move the bison herd into the 22,000 acre tribal bison range to slowly grow the herd for conservation, subsistence and ceremonial purposes. Within a decade and with additional bison range expansions, as many as 1,000 genetically pure bison may once again roam the rolling prairies of north-central Montana.
Adding to a string of recent state and federal governmental transparency issues, the Texas Comptroller’s Office finds itself at the center of a scandal involving a highly criticized state plan that ostensibly is designed to conserve the imperiled dunes sagebrush lizard. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service relied heavily on this plan in its decision to not list the lizard under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A report published by Defenders of Wildlife following an investigation into oil and gas development on lizard habitat reveals a case of negligent monitoring, self-reporting, conflicts of interest and secrecy surrounding mitigation money.
Sea otters should be allowed to naturally expand their habitat into the waters of Southern California, which they occupied prior to being almost exterminated for the fur trade. The Humane Society of the United States and Defenders of Wildlife, along with Friends of the Sea Otter and the Center for Biological Diversity, filed to intervene in a lawsuit on behalf of the animals. The groups seek to defend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s halt to a failed policy of trying to capture sea otters from the so-called ‘no-otter zone’ in Southern California and translocate them to other areas.
USFWS puts the brakes on peer review of science underlying premature delisting proposal of gray wolves nationwide
The National Marine Fisheries Service has agreed to review the impact of commercial fishing operations on endangered whales and issue new rules.
Defenders of Wildlife and Petco Animal Supplies today announced a collaboration to improve efforts to conserve coral reefs and reef fish.
In another swing of the ax to the protection of our nation’s forests, the House Natural Resources Committee today approved H.R. 1526, a bill introduced by the panel’s Chairman Doc Hastings. The so-called “Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act”would dramatically increase timber harvest on national forests, setting mandatory logging volumes achieved through the short circuiting of multiple landmark environmental laws. Embedded within H.R. 1526 is a proposal by Reps. DeFazio, Walden and Schrader which would turn over management of an undisclosed number of acres of federal forests in Oregon, including those known as O&C lands, to a non-federal timber trust for rampant and ecologically harmful logging.
Poor Interior funding legislation was passed in committee in the House, and harmful revenue sharing legislation was heard in the Senate.
A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other peer-reviewed research published this spring indicate that conserving Greater Sage-grouse will require both protecting large areas of habitat and making significant changes in land management to reverse population declines of this wide-ranging species. Federal agencies are currently engaged in an unprecedented, westwide planning process to conserve and restore the species.