Posted on March 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A transplanted Canada lynx watches a Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk/ Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Federal approval missed a key step in addressing requirements of Endangered Species Act
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By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Federal biologists have acknowledged that they left out a key step in their approval of the proposed Peak 6 ski area expansion at Breckenridge, a project that would degrade a patch of lynx habitat in the Tenmile Range.
“We reviewed the … biological opinion, and we agree that our incidental take statement lacks a meaningful mechanism to reinitiate consultation if the project exceeds the anticipated incidental take,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Western Colorado Supervisor Patricia Gelatt wrote in a March 6 letter responding to a formal legal notice from Rocky Mountain Wild and the Blue River Group of the Sierra Club.
Gelatt said her agency plans to meet with the Forest Service and modify its biological opinion to address the deficiencies before the Notice of Intent expires on April 19, but she didn’t explain how agency biologists missed including the required regulatory mechanisms after discussing the expansion with the Forest Service for several years. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado, endangered species, Environment, ski industry, Ski Resorts, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, Vail Resorts | Tagged: Breckenridge, Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion, Breckenridge Ski Area, endangered species, Forest Service, lynx, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Vail Resorts | 3 Comments »
Posted on June 6, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rule on status of alpine bird in one year
A pair of ptarmigans nestle in the snow on Quandary Peak. PHOTO BY KIM FENSKE.
Ptarmigans on Mt. Bierstadt changing from summer plumage to winter plumage in Oct. 2011. PHOTO BY KIM FENSKE.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Shrinking alpine habitat and declining mountain snow cover may push ptarmigans to the brink of extinction, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which announced this week that it will do an in-depth study to determine if the birds should be listed as threatened or endangered.
As so often, the push came from the Center for Biological Diversity, which petitioned the federal agency to consider a listing. Ptarmigans are one of the species included in a settlement agreement between the USFWS and conservation groups on a slate of species. Under the deal, the agency has agreed to make determinations on more than 750 potentially threatened species. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Colorado, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: biodiversity, climate change, endangered species, global warming, US Fish and Wildlife Service, white-tailed ptarmigan | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 9, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo shows a bat with symptoms of white nose syndrome.
Conservation advocates seek western cave closures, more funds for research and prevention
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With bat-killing white nose syndrome now documented in Missouri, conservation advocates say more action and more funding is needed to try and stop the spread of the disease, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week announced seven grant awards worth $1.4 million for more research projects.
“Bats are crucial to our nation’s ecosystems and our economy,” said USFWS director Dan Ashe. “These grants provide critical support for the Service and our partners in addressing this unprecedented wildlife crisis.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, public lands | Tagged: bats, biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, US Fish and Wildlife Service, white-nose syndrome | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 2, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A planned new urban wildlife refuge near Albuquerque, New Mexico will provide habitat for species like the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. PHOTO COURTESY USGS.
Feds say new site will boost economy, help urban residents connect with nature
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Working closely with local partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has the go-ahead to establish a new 570-acre wildlife refuge on the site of a former dairy farm just a few miles south of New Mexico’s largest metropolitan area
“With the support of Bernalillo County, the Trust for Public Land, New Mexico’s Congressional delegation, and many partners, New Mexico will gain its first urban national wildlife refuge,” Said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “Once complete, this refuge, which is within a half hour drive of nearly half of New Mexico’s population, will be a place for people to connect with and learn about the natural world and will provide valuable habitat for wildlife, including the endangered the southwestern willow flycatcher.”
Joined by U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, Congressman Martin Heinrich, and Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz, Salazar said a refuge in this location would fulfill the goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to work with community partners to establish a 21st century conservation ethic and reconnect people, especially young people, to the natural world. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, federal government, wildlife | Tagged: Albuquerque New Mexico, Jeff Bingaman, Ken Salazar, National Wildlife Refuge, Trust for Public Land, US Fish and Wildlife Service | 4 Comments »
Posted on May 26, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A mountain plover. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.
Partnership between state wildlife agency and private landowners enabled researchers to get good data on habitat and breeding; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decides threatened listing isn’t needed
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A partnership between the Colorado Division of Wildlife and private ranchers enabled researchers to show that mountain plovers are not as rare as previously believed.
Partially as a result of that research, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded earlier this month that the plover does not need protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The ruling came May 10, after the federal agency reviewed research showing that the plover population is robust. Led by avian researcher Victoria Dreitz, the CDOW studies showed the plover is an adaptable bird that can breed on agricultural fields and may benefit from cattle grazing, according to a press release from CDOW. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, Colorado Division of Wildlife, endangered species, Environment, Summit County Colorado, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, Colorado, Colorado Division of Wildlife, endangered species, Environment, mountain plover, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, US Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 31, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
Judges are telling wildlife agencies that they can't just ignore global warming threats when they make endangered species decisions on animals like the pika. PHOTO BY KIM FENSKE.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The courts get it, but apparently the various agencies responsible for managing and protecting the country’s wildlife don’t — many species are facing the threat of extinction from global warming impacts, and we can’t just stand by and watch.
That’s the message sent by a couple of recent court decisions, as judges consistently rule that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies can’t simply ignore global warming when they make decisions about whether or not to list species as endangered.
In general, the attitude among the agencies seems to be that, even though the impacts are real, there’s just not much we can do about it. But what the courts seem to be saying is that the laws governing endangered species don’t include a “we can’t do anything about it clause.” (more…)
Filed under: Environment, global warming, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: endangered species, Environment, global warming, pikas, polar bears, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, US Fish and Wildlife Service | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 3, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
A pintail duck at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. PHOTO US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge system crucial for migrating waterfowl
By Summit Voice
The National Wildlife Federation has included three national wildlife refuges in its annual list of top sites to see migrating birds.
For snow geese and bald eagles, Missouri’s Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge is the place to be. Squaw Creek is in the Mississippi Flyway, where snow geese fly from their nesting grounds in North Dakota to southern wintering areas. They stop to feed in Missouri in early October. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Bird migration, bird-watching, Birds, Horicon Marsh, Mississippi Flyway, National Wildlife Federation, national wildlife refuges, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Summit County News, Travel, US Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 18, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
Bison are included in a new lawsuit aimed at speeding up protection for endangered species. PHOTO COURTESY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.
Conservation group files lawsuit aimed at speeding protection for threatened plants and animals
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — An environmental group that focuses on endangered species last week filed one lawsuit and amended another to try and speed badly needed protection for nearly 100 threatened species, claiming that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is dragging its feet on making legally required decisions on species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
The agency often claims it lacks the resources to process endangered species petitions and issue decisions on time, but in a press release on the lawsuits, the Center for Biological Diversity points out that, even though Congress has upped the listing budget from just $3 million in 2002 to more than $10 million in 2010, there has been little increase in the rate of species listings.
The context for the debate over endangered species listings is what leading biologists have called a global biodiversity crisis, with species going extinct at an unprecedented rate. Impatient with the government response to the devastating loss of species worldwide and in the U.S., conservation groups would like too comprehensive reform in the endangered species program. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Summit County Colorado, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, endangered species, endangered species act, Environment, Summit County News, US Fish and Wildlife Service | 4 Comments »
Posted on June 29, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
The mountain plover is once again a candidate for the endangered species list. PHOTO COURTESY THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.
Conversion of agricultural lands, loss of prairie dog colonies leading to population decline in Colorado
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The mountain plover, a small, insect eating bird that lives near prairie dog colonies on the plains of Colorado, today was once again made a candidate for the endangered species list.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service twice before proposed listing the plover based on impacts to habitat. Intensive agriculture, increasing recreation in grassland ecosystems and the loss of prairie dog colonies all contributed to the decline in habitat for the bird.
Read more on the plover at the Center for Native Ecosystems website.
But in an unexpected 2003 decision, the agency completely withdrew its listing proposal, claiming that threats to the plover were not as significant as previously believed. Conservation groups filed a court challenge to the decision in a federal district court in California. The case was settled when the Fish and Wildlife Service decided to re-open the 2002 listing proposal. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Birds, endangered species, mountain plover, Summit County, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, US Fish and Wildlife Service | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 27, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
A mature loggerhead sea turtle swimming in the Atlantic. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA, VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.
Most hatchlings would die without the move, marine wildlife experts say; watch a NASA timelapse video of the spreading oil spill at the end of this story
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal and state wildlife officials in Florida said they will take the unprecedented step of moving 700 sea turtle nests to try and protect hatchlings from the Gulf oil spill and associated beach clean-up actions. The sea turtle eggs will be incubated and then released on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
Without the emergency plan, marine biologists say all of all of this year’s Northern Gulf of Mexico hatchlings would probably die. All six sea turtle species found in U.S. waters are on the endangered species list.
“Permitted nest surveyors have been in the field locating and marking nests daily since the start of the nesting season,” said Sandy MacPherson, national sea turtle coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “Data on the nest location and the date deposited are being closely tracked. This allows us certainty in timing the nest collection phase of the plan.”
The idea is to collect and move the eggs at a point during the incubation cycle when they’re least susceptible to disturbance. Once collected, the nests will be packed in specially prepared Styrofoam boxes and transported to a secure, climate-controlled location on the east central coast of Florida where they will remain until incubation is complete. (more…)
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Marine biology, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, gulf oil spill response, sea turtle nest relocation, sea turtles, Summit County, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, US Fish and Wildlife Service | 1 Comment »