The U.S. Forest Service started dragging its feet on protecting lynx ever since the wild cat was designated as a threatened species in 2000, and that pattern continues to this day. The Center for Biological Diversity has released a document suggesting that the agency’s Northern Rockies office dawdled for eight months working on a routine biological assessment that is often done in just a few weeks.
Ruling that the U.S. Forest Service violated federal law when it made an arbitrary and capricious decision to approve a land exchange near Wolf Creek Ski Area, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch set aside the agency’s 2015 approval for a land trade that would have enabled large-scale resort development., The decisions says the Forest Service failed to look closely at the environmental impacts of its decision, and failed to listen to the public before making its decision. Continue reading “Federal judge nixes Wolf Creek development scheme”→
A federal judge in Montana has once again ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act when it excluded Colorado from a critical habitat designation for threatened lynx. In the end, the rare cat may yet get some protected sanctuaries in the Colorado high county.
Construction of new dirt bike trails also under way
FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service is implementing restoration plans associated with approval of the new off-road motorcycle trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain.
The trail system, long a local point of contention, was approved last year based on a compromise agreement among stakeholders. The Forest Service has already started building part of the trail, with new single-track visible just a few feet above, and running parallel to Straight Creek Road.
Conservation advocates go to court to block Tennessee Pas project
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 “Massive Colorado logging project threatens lynx”→
Under pressure from billionaire developer, Forest Service keeps digging itself into a deeper hole
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Conservation advocates in Colorado are bracing for a legal battle with the U.S. Forest Service after the agency last week stayed on course to approve a controversial land exchange that would enable a massive real estate development in the relatively untouched forests around Wolf Creek Pass.
A regional Forest Service officials rejected a series of objections to the swap, finding that the approval didn’t violate any federal laws or agency regulations, but conservation groups say they have obtained documents showing that Maribeth Gustafson, the regional forester who reviewed the objections, may have a conflict of interest because she participated in the process leading to the approval. Continue reading “Court showdown likely in Wolf Creek land swap battle”→
FRISCO — Almost 15 years after listing lynx as a threatened species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still hasn’t developed a recovery plan for the snow-loving cats, but a required five-year status review currently under way may help the process.
The review is aimed at clarifying the extent, magnitude, and nature of the threats to lynx so that recovery planning can target those specific threats. When lynx were originally listed in 2000, federal biologists said the lack of adequate regulations on public lands was the main threat to the predators. Continue reading “Wildlife: Are lynx holding their own?”→