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Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17) introduced the SAFE Act (H.R. 5065) in the House of Representatives today. The bill, a Senate version of which was introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and former senator Max Baucus (MT), was crafted to help guide climate adaptation strategies for our nation’s natural resources and wildlife habitat in the face of global warming. Combating invasive species, restoring coastal wetlands and watersheds and controlling wildfires are just a few of the resilience-building strategies included in the SAFE Act.
Defenders of Wildlife released a report today finding that key components of the state of Wyoming’s sage-grouse conservation strategy are unlikely to conserve the species. While the state’s “core area” strategy is an important step forward, recognizing the need to preserve large areas of priority habitat to sustain the grouse, it fails to require needed restrictions on energy development and other land uses and thus should not be used as model for other state and federal planning efforts.
The House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior and Environment passed the 2015 appropriations bill for the Interior Department.
The Forest Service’s newly released revised draft sage-grouse plan amendment for the Humboldt–Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada and California drew cautious praise from conservation organizations. The amendment is intended to improve sage-grouse habitat on public lands administered by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in the Mono Basin region along the California-Nevada border. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing the genetically unique Mono Basin, or “Bi-State,” sage-grouse as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act as the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of greater sage-grouse. A final listing decision is due by April 28, 2015.
Four key populations of scalloped hammerhead sharks were listed today under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the first time in history a shark species has received federal protections under the ESA. The scalloped hammerhead shark is a highly imperiled species and is considered globally endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is killed primarily for its fins but is also killed as “by-catch” in fisheries targeting other species.
The Department of the Interior released a report on its plans to work with state, local and tribal interests to conserve bison in the American West.
The Bureau of Land Management announced today that it has finalized the Resource Management Plan for the Lander Field Office in Wyoming (Lander plan), the first of fifteen plans developed as part of the agency’s National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy, a range-wide effort to update land-use plans with new measures to conserve sage-grouse. While the Lander plan (one of four federal plans to be completed in Wyoming) recognizes the importance of conserving core habitat areas and provides some protections for sage-grouse, it also includes key management prescriptions that fail to meet scientific standards to protect sage-grouse from future development and support the species long term recovery needs.
The decline in funding for wildlife refuges is threatening the economies of local communities that rely on the recreation dollars they provide.
Three conservation groups filed a legal challenge today over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to adequately protect thousands of imperiled lesser prairie chickens from being killed or harmed by oil and gas drilling, grazing and other human activities. Although the bird’s population declined an estimated 50 percent last year, in April the Service designated the bird as “threatened” rather than “endangered,” a distinction that allowed the agency to authorize ongoing “incidental take” of prairie chickens under a series of unproven, voluntary conservation agreements.
Members of the Natural and Working Lands Coalition commended the final state budget deal reached by the Legislature and Administration on cap-and-trade investments as a promising start to advancing natural resource solutions to climate change. The final budget deal includes nearly $100 million in investments in natural resources, including forests, agriculture, wetlands and urban forestry, to remove carbon pollution from the air and reduce potent greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide and methane.