Environment: Logging industry fails yet again to strip Pacific Northwest protection for marbled murrelets

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Marbled murrelet in a moss nest. Courtesy USFWS.

Fifth lawsuit rejected by courts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Marbled murrelets along the Pacific Northwest Coast will continue to benefit from the protection of the Endangered Species Act, as a federal appeals court last week rejected yet another logging industry attempt to open more coastal old-growth forest to logging.

The robin-sized birds feed at sea but nest only in old-growth forests along the Pacific Coast, laying their eggs (one per female) on large, moss-covered branches in old growth Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and redwood trees.  Continue reading

Feds publish recovery plan for endangered corals

‘The clock is ticking …’

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Caribbean corals are under the gun from global warming and local threats.

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Can elkhorn coral be saved?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal scientists say it may be possible to save the fantastic undersea gardens of elkhorn and staghorn corals, but continuing increases of heat-trapping greenhouse gases will impede that recovery.

The findings are outlined in a recovery plan for the corals, which were put on the Endangered Species List in 2006 after a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading

Environment: Scientists say proposed seismic testing off the Atlantic Coast would be devastating to marine life

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Whales and other marine mammals would take a big hit from millions of air gun blasts proposed to uncover fossil fuel deposits beneath the sea floor of the Atlantic. Photo courtesy Tim Cole, NMFS.

Air gun blasting has a huge environmental footprint and poses ‘unacceptable risks’ to marine life

Staff Report

FRISCO — Proposed seismic testing for oil and gas beneath the Atlantic Ocean floor is likely to have significant, long-lasting, and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival of fish and marine mammals, scientists warned last week in a letter to President Barack Obama.

The letter was written in response to the administration’s announcement last month that it will, for the first time, open areas off the U.S. mid-Atlantic and south Atlantic coasts for fossil fuel exploitation. Continue reading

Science team maps key ocean areas for marine mammals

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Marine mammals are under pressure from human activities in the oceans around the U.S. bberwyn photo.

With more offshore drilling on tap, regulators need more information to protect marine life

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with a few small pockets of ocean already protected for marine mammals, biologists say there are hundreds of other areas that should be considered biologically important when making management and regulatory decisions about human activities that could affect whales, dolphins and porpoises.

The creation of Biologically Important Areas (BIAs) are described in a special issue of the journal Aquatic Mammals. Expert judgment was combined with published and unpublished data to identify 131 BIAs covering 24 species, stocks or populations in seven regions of the U.S. Continue reading

Proposed new oil and gas leases in Wyoming cut into the heart of important greater sage-grouse habitat

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Sage grouse don’t much like these drilling rigs.

Wyoming greater sage-grouse populations down 60 percent in last few years

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say proposed new oil and gas leases on 89,000 acres in northwestern Wyoming would devastate greater sage-grouse in the region by permitting industrial operations in some of the birds’ most important nesting and rearing habitat.

In a comment letter to the federal government, the  Center for Biological Diversity wrote that, even sage grouse have declined 60 percent over six years in Wyoming, the plan repeatedly ignores federal scientists’ recommendations for protecting these prairie birds from fossil fuel development. Continue reading

Study shows how mitigation boosts sage-grouse nesting

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Adaptive management and good mitigation can help greater sage-grouse survive the fracking tsunami. Photo via USGS.

Scientists tout adaptive management approach to sage-grouse conservation

Staff Report

FRISCO — When it comes to greater sage-grouse nesting areas, no disturbance is best, but carefully planned mitigation measures can help boost nest survival.

Minimizing disturbance to sagebrush is important, and the single biggest factor found to boost nest survival is locating wastewater treatment facilities away from drilling sites, scientists said last week, releasing results of a multi-year study in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Continue reading

Wildlife: Oregon wolf population growing slowly

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State reports suggests non-lethal wolf control is working

Staff Report

FRISCO — Every now and then, the dizzying cycle of lawsuits, appeals and proposed legislation on wolves is punctuated by a bit of good news. Last week, for example, federal biologists announced that the population of endangered Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest grew during the past year, and now, Oregon wildlife officials also say the predators are increasing in their state.

According to the annual Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife annual wolf report, the state’s population has increased by 13 wolves since the end of 2013. The biologists estimate there are now more than 70 wolves roaming in the wilds of Oregon. The state wildlife agency confirmed nine wolf packs and six new pairs, with a total of eight breeding pairs. Continue reading

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