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After receiving more than 20,000 public comments to the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), federal and state agencies today announced that they will finalize the plan in a “phased” approach – moving forward with large-scale renewable energy development and conservation on public lands in the California desert while slowing down the planning effort on the private lands. This approach is meant to address issues raised by counties and others in the public comment process. County participation is essential to make the private lands portion of the plan work, but conservationists are concerned that this “phased approach” may shift more renewable energy development to public lands and have a bigger impact on imperiled wildlife while at the same time resulting in less public lands identified as important conservation lands.
President Obama has vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline bill.
Today Senator Murkowski (R-AK) used the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Department of the Interior budget allocations as a platform to renew her demand to build a costly, dangerous and destructive road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, despite the millions of taxpayer dollars that have already been used to ensure the health and welfare of citizens in the area. Her insistence on building the road even earned her a “Porker of the Month” award from Citizens Against Government Waste last spring.
Today, the National Park Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced the official start of a public process to plan for the restoration of a grizzly bear population in Washington’s North Cascades Ecosystem.
Today, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) released the official annual count of endangered Mexican gray wolves tracked in the species’ recovery area in Arizona and New Mexico. Officials are celebrating this year, because for the first time since recovery efforts began in 1998, the population has surpassed 100 individuals. However, conservationists say that while the increase from 83 wolves at the end of 2013 to this year’s 109 wolves is good, numbers alone won’t save this imperiled wolf, especially with the serious limitations and flaws in the Service’s newly released Mexican gray wolf management rule.
Wildlife conservation groups and tribes today expressed concern about a new bill in the state legislature that would hand control of state bison management to county politicians. The groups cite concerns that wildlife biologists would be replaced by politicians as the decision-makers for wild bison management and that the bill would create a patchwork of inconsistent laws that would wreak havoc on wild bison restoration in Montana.
Two separate pieces of legislation to eliminate federal protections for wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming were introduced in Congress this week. These two pieces of legislation, the first sponsored by Representative Kline (R-MN) focused on removing protections in the Great Lakes states, and the second by Representatives Ribble (R-WI) and Lummis (R-WY) that would encompass the Great Lakes and Wyoming both, come just a few months after courts set aside rules that delisted wolves in those regions, keeping wolves protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today confirmed through DNA analysis that the endangered gray wolf shot dead in Utah was indeed the lone female recently made famous for her journey of hundreds of miles from the Northern Rockies to the Grand Canyon. The wandering wolf was killed earlier this month by a hunter who reportedly mistook her for a coyote.
The Obama administration has released its 2016 budget proposal, which calls for an increase of $74 billion over sequester cuts in recent years.
The pallid sturgeon, a critically endangered North American fish with ancestors dating back to the time of dinosaurs, may die out in a few years without access to prime spawning habitat if river dam operations in the upper Missouri River are not changed. Today, conservation groups filed a lawsuit against three federal agencies, demanding that the agencies fix their dam operations that threaten the existence of wild pallid sturgeon.