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Biodiversity: More wrangling over Gunnison sage-grouse

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Gunnison sage-grouse during mating ritual. Photo courtesy BLM.

Federal biologists to take another look at sage-grouse science after getting an earful from Colorado stakeholders

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal biologists will take another hard look at the science before making a final decision how much protection Gunnison sage-grouse need under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now says it will make a final decision in six months, with a new public comment period ending Sept. 3, 2013. The agency first proposed an endangered species listing, as well as critical habitat, in January of this year. The announcement stirred dismay in Colorado, where the key population of the birds is clustered in the Gunnison Valley. Continue reading

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Water: Utah’s Virgin River placed on ‘most-threatened’ list

The West’s rivers are under pressure from unsustainable water development and use. Photo courtesy National Park Service/Amy Gaiennie.

Unsustainable water use threatens river ecosystems

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Many of the West’s rivers are facing unrelenting pressure from unsustainable water use. Some have already been pushed near the brink, including the iconic Virgin River in Southern Utah, recently named as one of ecosystems most at risk from water development in a recent report from the Endangered Species Coalition.

“The problem is pretty simple: People aren’t leaving enough water in the Virgin River, and so the endangered fish that depend on that water are struggling to survive,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The situation in the Virgin is so dire that the woundfin went extinct in the wild. This report is a wake-up call that we have got to do a better job caring for our freshwater environment.” Continue reading

Report: Energy development threatens biodiversity

Many species at risk from pollution & habitat fragmentation

Kemp's Ridley Turtle. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA/KIM BASSOS-HULL, MOTE MARINE LABORATORY.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Along with the significant pollution — including greenhouse gases — associated with use of fossil fuels, the push to extract more oil and gas is also a driver in the great wave of species extinctions currently sweeping the planet.

From tiny river mollusks in the Appalachians to the mighty polar bear, aggressive development of fossil fuel resources is endangering dozens of species. In the West, greater sage-grouse is under pressure, as habitat is increasingly fragmented by well pads, compressor stations, access roads, power lines and pipelines.

To draw attention to the threats, the Endangered Species Coalition last week released a report on wildlife endangered by energy development, highlighting 10 species that are particularly at risk. Continue reading

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