NOAA pushes recovery of 8 endangered ocean species

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The southern resident population of killer whales is one of eight species targeted for a new federal conservation push. Photo via NOAA.

‘People can help turn around the slide to extinction’

Staff Report

FRISCO — From rare white abalones along the California coast to playful monk seals in Hawaii, federal marine biologists want to make an all-out push to try and protect some of the oceans most endangered species. Continue reading

Conservation groups seek international help to save the Gulf of California’s vaquita

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Less than 100 vaquitas remain in the northern Gulf of California.

Petition requests ‘in danger’ status for Baja World Heritage area

Staff Report

U.S. conservation groups working to save the world’s most endangered dolphin from going extinct are hoping to get some help from the rest of the world.

At issue is the vaquita dolphin, which lives only at the northern end of the Gulf of California, an area designated as a World Heritage site in 2005. Less than 100 of the marine mammals remain, and conservation advocates fear that they’ll soon be wiped out.

This week, several groups petitioned the World Heritage Committee to declare the World Heritage area as being “in danger,” a status that recognizes threats to the values that earned the designation in the first place. The World Heritage Committee may consider the petition at its annual meeting in Bonn, Germany, this June. Continue reading

Environment: Feds tackle sage-steppe restoration

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The BLM is eying sagebrush restoration work.

Great Basin projects to bolster sage-grouse habitat

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal land managers want to stem the loss of sagebrush habitat with a $4 million series of projects across the Great Basin.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the Bureau of Land Management projects will  reduce the threat of  more frequent and intense wildfires that are damaging sagebrush landscapes and productive rangelands. Continue reading

GOP once again attacking Endangered Species Act

Slew of bills aimed at undermining protection for plants and animals threatened with extinction

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A rare lynx kitten in Colorado protected by the Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Staff Report

FRISCO — GOP lawmakers in the U.S. Senate are apparently intent on undoing the Endangered Species Act without directly attacking the widely supported law that helps protect plants and animals from extinction.

This week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding hearings on eight GOP bills, including one that would end federal protection for more than 800 endangered animals and plants around the country, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading

Rare California condor spotted in New Mexico

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California condor in flight. USFWS photo.

Population of rare birds holding steady in the wild

Staff Report

FRISCO — The wild California condor population may not be growing by leaps and bounds, but biologists say they’re encouraged by a recent 600-mile exploratory trip taken by one of the rare birds.

The juvenile make wandered from his home roost near the Grand Canyon and is now spending some time on national forest lands near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The same bird also spent some time on southern Colorado during the trek.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it’s the first recorded condor sighting in New Mexico in modern history, although scientists have found fossilized condor ones in the state. Continue reading

Environment: Proposed resort development near Grand Canyon’s South Rim threatens rare species

A rare variety of tiger beetle

A rare variety of tiger beetle is threatened by a proposed development at the Grand Canyon. @bberwyn photo.

Emergency petition filed to prevent extinction

Staff Report

FRISCO — A looming resort development near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon has prompted conservation advocates to seek protection for a pair of rare species that could be pushed toward extinction if the project proceeds.

Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity filed an emergency petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to consider endangered species status for the Arizona wetsalts tiger beetle and Macdougal’s yellowtops. Both species rely on groundwater that could disappear if the resort developers are permitted to pump groundwater in the area. Continue reading

Massive Colorado logging project threatens lynx

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Proposed logging on thousands of acres of national forest lands near Leadville, Colorado could threaten important denning and feeding areas used by threatened lynx.

Conservation advocates go to court to block Tennessee Pas project

Staff Report

FRISCO — The threat of widespread logging in an area where lynx are slowly reestablishing a Colorado presence has spurred a new lawsuit by forest conservation advocates.

The recently approved 10-year project is in the Tennessee Pass area, mostly on lands managed by the Leadville Ranger District of the San Isabel National Forest.

The Forest Service green light potentially permits logging across more 12,000 acres, including 2,370 acres of clear cutting and 6,765 acres of commercial thinning and construction of 20 miles of temporary roads.

The scenery, historic status and wildlife of the Tennessee Pass area are all at risk, said Kevin Mueller, WildEarth Guardians Utah-Southern Rockies Conservation Manager.

“If this forest service logging proposal is approved, a patchwork of clear cuts could be visible on all sides of the Turquoise Lake Basin,” Mueller said. “This litigation centers on USFS refusal to protect forested slopes known to represent critical den habitat for threatened lynx,” said attorney John Mellgren of the Western Environmental Law Center. “Our goal is ecologically resilient forests that support healthy wildlife and lynx populations. Clear-cutting would further undermine lynx and other vulnerable species,” Mellgren said. Continue reading

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