Activists seek more protection for Coho salmon

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Coho salmon, courtesy fishwatch.gov.

Lawsuit filed to force completion of recovery plan

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation advocates are going to court to try and boost protection for Oregon’s endangered Coho salmon. The species has been listed for seven years, but the National Marine Fisheries Service has yet to come up with a recovery plan.

The lawsuit filed last week by the  Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild seeks to move that process forward. A recovery plan is needed to address logging and other land uses seen as key threats to Coho salmon.

“Oregon coast coho need a recovery roadmap if they are to have any chance at surviving,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “A recovery plan is needed to address Oregon’s logging rules, which are badly out of date and allow practices that do real harm to coho salmon and the precious rivers and streams they depend on.” Continue reading

Feds post draft recovery plan for rare Nebraska beetle

Salt Creek tiger beetles have been pushed to the brink of extinction by habitat loss associated with urbanization, bank stabilization and agricultural development

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There are only a few hundred Salt Creek tiger beetles remaining. Photo via USFWS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A rare insect that lives only in a few pockets of saline wetlands and streams in eastern Nebraska is getting some much-needed attention. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week published a draft recovery plan for the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle.

Biologists are hopeful that a collaborative conservation effort, including habitat protection, captive breeding and reintroductions, can keep the insect from going extinct. Salt Creek tiger beetles have declined due to habitat loss associated with urbanization, bank stabilization and agricultural development. Continue reading

House GOP tries to slash forest environmental rules

Logging on the Frisco Peninsula, Sept. 2011. @bberwyn photo.

Logging on the Frisco Peninsula, Sept. 2011. @bberwyn photo.

‘The public will be looking at irreparable habitat damage, polluted watersheds and drinking water and a devastated outdoor economy’

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Anti-environmental Republicans in the House are once again trying to fast-track logging projects under the guise of forest health. They also want to discourage citizen involvement in forest management decisions and try and stop conservation groups from challenging illegal logging projects in court.

The House last week passed H.R. 2647, with the Orwellian name of “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015.”

Here’s a bill summary posted at govtrack.us:

“The Resilient Federal Forests Act would make a variety of changes to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service forest management standards such as requiring studies on plans in response to forest fires, insect and disease infestation, and catastrophic events. It would also make it more difficult to issue a lawsuit against the Forest Service by requiring plaintiffs who lose lawsuits to pay for the agency’s legal expenses, and in some cases by exempting the agency from paying the plaintiff’s legal expenses if the plaintiff wins.”

Govtrack gives the bill just a 15 percent chance of being signed into law, mainly because the extreme rightwingers in the House included language that won’t be acceptable to moderate Republicans in the Senate.

In effect, the House GOP quashed any real chance at passing any meaningful forest management reform because they insisted on pursuing an extreme, ideologically bill. That becomes apparent when you read the statement from Rob Bishop, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee:

“The verdict is in. The draconian environmental policies and litigation assaults of the past thirty years have failed our forests. Horrific wildfires are running rampant in our National Forest System. H.R. 2647 gives the Forest Service the resources it needs to suppress these devastating wildfires and gives them the tools they need to prevent fires before they start. I am proud of Rep. Westerman and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their advancement of H.R. 2647, a bill which makes enormous progress toward restoring the health of our treasured national forests.”

Conservation groups are not thrilled about the bill. Defenders of Wildlife said the measure would “bulldoze bedrock environmental laws to pave the way for dramatic increases in logging in forests across America.”

This bill turns back the clock 50 years on forest management and puts our nation’s forests at risk by green-lighting reckless logging practices, damaging vital wildlife habitat, short-cutting critical environmental review, and limiting public involvement in forest management decisions.

“This is a sad testament to the fact that instead of leading the charge on conserving America’s valued forests, many in Congress seem bent on casting aside our nation’s foundational conservation laws,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO, Defenders of Wildlife. “Dramatically increasing logging based upon little to no environmental analysis is like racing down the highway with your windshield painted black. You know that the outcome will not be good. The public will be looking at irreparable habitat damage, polluted watersheds and drinking water and a devastated outdoor economy.

“Rather than recklessly rolling back time-tested conservation laws, Congress should focus on the one and only legislative reform actually needed for our nation’s forests—properly funding the fire-fighting budget,” Rappaport Clark said.

Yosemite National Park launches effort to restore endangered yellow-legged frogs in alpine lakes

‘Today we know these frogs are a key part of healthy mountain lake ecosystems …’
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A Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Staff Report
FRISCO — National Park Service biologists say a targeted restoration effort in Yosemite could rebuild populations of endangered yellow-legged frogs back to self-sustaining levels within 10 years.

Yellow-legged frogs were once the most common frog in mountain lakes throughout the Sierra Nevada, but in recent decades were nearly wiped out by non-native species and by disease. By 2005, biologists could only find 11 widely scattered populations, with perhaps a couple of thousand frogs total. Continue reading

Better info, more public awareness is the key to reducing shark attacks, researchers say

No evidence that culling sharks cuts risks

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There are more great white sharks and more people in the ocean along the California coast, but the risk of shark attacks has decreased since the 1960s. Photo courtesy NOAA.

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Researchers say shark attacks are more likely in the evening than during the day. @bbberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even as many more people take to the water along the California Coast, the risk of being attacked by great white sharks has dropped considerably since the 1950s, according to Stanford University researchers who took a close look at shark attack statistics.

Their findings show that empowering people with information about how to avoid sharks is far more effective for public safety than trying to cull sharks. The scientists released their study results after a recent wave of shark attacks in North Carolina made headlines.

“You have a higher chance to win the lottery, a much higher chance to drown in the ocean, than to be attacked by a shark,” said Stanford researcher Francesco Ferretti. “At the same time, people need to approach the ocean with precaution and respect. We are entering the realm of predators and they are fulfilling their ecological role,” Ferretti said. Continue reading

Congress out of synch with voters on environmental issues

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The majority of Americans support protection for endangered species, and for clean air and clean water. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Nearly 7 in 10 voters favor strong environmental laws, yet Congress kowtows to special interests

Staff Report

FRISCO — If Americans voted purely on environmental issues, the country would have a very “green” Congress, according to a new poll showing that most people support the Endangered Species Act, and are more likely to vote for candidates who want to uphold environmental safeguards. Continue reading

No-fishing zone boosts Robben Island penguins

Long-term outlook for African penguins still poor

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Endangered African penguins on Robben Island, Photo courtesy Davide Gaglio.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Biologists say a no-fishing zone around South Africa’s Robben Island has benefited endangered penguins, showing how even small protected marine zones can help conservation efforts.

The study from the University of Exeter says survival of endangered African penguin chicks increased by 18 percent during the three-year trial period, which is important because the African penguin population has been in a “freefall, with adult survival rates over the last decade desperately low.” Continue reading

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