Posts in Conservation.
Posted in Conservation

In an article published in July 2012, in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Christian Langpap and Joe Kerkvliet of Oregon State University assess the effectiveness of habitat conservation plans.  The abstract reads:

Habitat conservation plans (HCPs) have become a key instrument for implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on private land. However, there is no systematic analysis of their effectiveness in promoting endangered species recovery. This paper is the first to provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact of HCPs on species recovery ...

Posted in Conservation

According to Ryan McCarthy with KeysNet (June 27, 2012), the County Commission in Monroe County, Florida has agreed to take responsibility for reviewing permits for new development within the county to ascertain whether such development is likely to affect species listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.  The County took this action to avoid suspension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) there by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Monroe County was the locus of the first lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced (pdf) its decision that the Sonoran Desert Area population of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service's conclusion is the result of a revised 12-month finding on a petition to list the population as threatened or endangered under the ESA.  The Service concluded that the Sonoran Desert Area population of bald eagle does not qualify as a distinct population segment (DPS), and that listing the population is not warranted at this time.

The Service originally found that the Sonoran Desert Area population of bald eagles was not a listable entity under the ESA on February 25, 2010.  The Center for Biological Diversity and Maricopa Audubon Society challenged that decision in October 2010.  On November 30, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ordered the Service to draft a new 12-month finding.

A  judge in the District of Washington D.C. recently denied a request by the Humane Society of the United States to halt the killing of sea lions that prey on endangered spring run salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River.  On March 15, 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) reauthorized the removal of California sea lions that congregate at the Bonneville dam and feed on the listed species as they pass the dam.  NMFS's authorization would have allowed the removal of up to 92 sea lions annually through 2016.  The Humane Society challenged NMFS's decision, claiming that NMFS ...

On February 29, 2012, the California Natural Resources Agency released approximately 10,000 pages of "preliminary" draft planning documents relating to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) for public review and comment.  The documents fall into two categories: Draft BDCP documents, and Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) documents (see the list below for details).

The BDCP is being developed in compliance with the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the California Natural Communities Conservation Planning Act (NCCPA ...

Posted in Conservation

Two stories covered in recent news highlight the challenges associated with integrating scientific information into public policy, including in the arena of agency decision-making respecting threatened and endangered species.  One, available here (The Observer, Feb. 18, 2012, by Robin McKie), covered the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  At that meeting, AAAS President and accomplished biologist Nina Fedoroff expressed profound dismay about what she perceives as a growing anti-science movement.  As was reported in The Observer, "[certain] institutions, acting as covers for major energy corporations, are responsible for the onslaught that has deeply lowered the reputation of science in many people's minds in America. This has come in the form of personal attacks on the reputations of scientists and television adverts that undermine environment laws."  The archetype example of the anti-science movement in action, according to sources cited in the article, is the debate over the scientific basis for the theory of anthropogenically generated climate change.

A second story, available here (Los Angeles Times, Feb. 22, 2012, by Neela Banerjee), covered the admission by Dr. Peter Gleick, President of The Pacific Institute, that he lied to obtain documents regarding climate change from The Heartland Institute.  As the Los Angeles Times reported, "[a] noted California scientist and environmental activist has admitted that he assumed a false identity to obtain and distribute internal documents from a libertarian group that questions climate change."  Dr. Gleick apologized for his actions explaining he was frustrated by attacks upon climate change science and scientists.  It is unclear how his actions may affect Dr. Gleick's professional life though it appears likely to have adverse consequences.  Fox News reports that "[t]he Task Force on Scientific Ethics for the well-respected American Geophysical Union has quietly expunged the name of committee chairman Peter H. Gleick from its website."

Posted in Conservation

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) have approved the San Diego County Water Authority’s (Authority) Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP), which is expected to contribute to the conservation of San Diego County’s natural resources, while providing a more efficient endangered species permitting process for the Authority. The 55-year plan satisfies the requirements for incidental take authorization under California’s Natural Community Planning Act and the federal ...

Posted in Conservation

As Peter Fimrite reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, this week a lone gray wolf (Canis lupis) crossed the border from Oregon into California.  This marks the first time since 1924 that a wolf was seen in California.  The species was hunted to extinction within the state, due at least in part to concerns about the risks it posed to humans.  The species is listed (pdf) as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.  It is not listed under the California Endangered Species Act.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently reopened  the public comment period for its proposal to designate additional critical habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi).  As we previously reported, on June 2, 2011, NMFS proposed revising the critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by extending the current designation in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands out to the 500-meter depth contour, including Sand Island at Midway Islands; and by designating six new areas in ...

Posted in Conservation

A NOAA task force, made up of representatives from state and federal agencies, tribes, and interest groups, voted on Monday to recommend that NOAA Fisheries permit Oregon and Washington to remove up to 85 California sea lions a year in order to protect listed salmon and steelhead.  Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NOAA is charged with protecting marine mammals such as the California sea lion; but, NOAA is also the lead agency responsible for saving Columbia River salmon and steelhead, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA").  Since 2002, California ...

Posted in Conservation

Proposed revisions (pdf) to the draft Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan / Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP) were released last month to address the hundreds of comments received regarding the draft plan, which was issued in December 2010. The draft plan and comment letters are available for viewing here.

The Santa Clara Valley HCP/NCCP is intended to identify conservation and mitigation measures to protect species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), while allowing for orderly ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced (PDF) the availability of the 2011 Revised Recovery Plan for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) (PDF).  The Plan calls for an adaptive management approach, something the Service says is necessary to "accommodate changing management needs" of the species.  In contrast, an earlier earlier recovery plan, finalized in 1994, focused on traditional mitigation measures to achieve recovery of the threatened desert tortoise.

Key elements of the 2011 Recovery Plan include developing ...

Posted in Conservation

Pursuant to a state law (pdf) enacted in 2010, the legislature required the California Natural Resources Agency to convene a cabinet-level committee to develop a strategic vision for the Department of Fish and Game and the Fish and Game Commission, and submit it to the governor and Legislature before July 1, 2012.  The state has established a website that describes the committee, referred to as the executive committee, a citizen commission, and a stakeholder advisory group.  The stakeholder advisory group is holding a series of meetings over the next 10 days to address a variety of ...

Posted in Conservation

An edited volume recently released by Resources for the Future Press and Earthscan focuses on federalism and the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The editors are Kaush Arha and Buzz Thompson, both of whom are associated with the Woods Institute at Stanford University.  According to these editors, the volume "explores the critical role that states can and should play in protecting the nation's vast wealth of biodiversity."  The volume includes case studies of federalism and the ESA focused on individual species and chapters that address federalism and the ESA at the conceptual ...

Posted in Conservation

On June 30, 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a revised recovery plan (PDF) for the Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina).  Most people are familiar with the spotted owl because of the intense media attention it received during the 1990s when a fight erupted over whether to continue to allow timber harvesting in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, which conservationists argued was causing loss of critical habitat for the species.  The Service first issued a recovery plan for the spotted owl in 2008, and numerous parties challenged that plan in court.  In ...

Posted in Conservation

A plan to remove four dams along the Klamath River, which flows from Oregon through California to the Pacific Ocean, has major proponents including the federal government, the States of California and Oregon, and a number of environmental groups.  But in a June 13, 2011 report (pdf), an independent review panel has raised serious questions regarding the likelihood that the dam removal proposal will achieve the principal conservation goal of increasing the population of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Klamath River system.

The panel acknowledged the potential ...

Posted in Conservation

                                           

The wildfires in Arizona have raged through forests and burned down homes, but as recently reported by the Washington Post, three packs of endangered Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) appear to have been spared.  (Story by Associated Press, June 23, 2011).  Firefighters have spotted two of the three packs moving around with their pups, and researchers were able to confirm the survival of at least three wolves from the third pack via radio collar data.  It is currently unknown whether pups from the third pack have survived the fires, but a spokesman for the ...

Posted in Conservation

In 2008, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA") authorized Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to "lethally remove" individual sea lions that congregate below the Bonneville Dam and continue to eat listed salmon and steelhead after non-lethal deterrence methods prove unsuccessful.  Under the current program, after a sea lion is identified and trapped it is either transported to a new location or euthanized.  Earlier this month, however, a task force convened at NOAA's request recommended that the controversial program ...

Posted in Conservation

The burrowing owl (pdf) is a species broadly distributed in the western United States that also occupies other parts of the continental United States as well as Central and South America.  The species is resident in much of the State of California.  Populations of the species have declined in certain areas of the State over time, but the population in Imperial County increased with the expansion of agriculture in the region over the past century.  It was recently reported that the Imperial County population, which was as high as 5600 pairs in the past decade, totaled less than 4900 pairs in ...

Posted in Conservation

Recently, a number of news outlets reported that the population of the palila (Loxioides bailleui), a Hawaiian songbird that the Fish and Wildlife Service listed as endangered in 1967 under the predecessor to the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA), has decline dramatically in recent years according to surveys conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and other entities.  In a five year status review of the species (pdf), the Fish and Wildlife Service previously identified the population decline.

From 2003 to 2007, the estimated number of palila on the southwestern slope of Mauna Kea ...

Posted in Conservation

Home to endangered species, marine mammals, and nationally significant commercial and recreational fishing resources, the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem is under assault. When the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded on April 20, sinking two days later, it began spewing oil into the Gulf’s ecosystem. Recalling that the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill released just over 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, on May 27 scientists estimated that the Gulf spill, hopefully now capped, released between 17 million and 27 million gallons of oil, making it the ...

Posted in Conservation

In a speech at the Department of the Interior, President Obama announced a new national conservation effort titled the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.

The President described the Administration’s plans to roll out the Initiative in the following way.

"In the months ahead, members of this administration will host regional listening sessions across America. We’ll meet with everybody -- from tribal leaders to farmers, from young people to businesspeople, from elected officials to recreation and conservation groups. And their ideas will help us form a 21st century ...

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

Stay Connected

RSS RSS Feed

Categories

Archives

View All Nossaman Blogs
Jump to Page

We use cookies on this website to improve functionality, enhance performance, analyze website traffic and to enable social media features.  To learn more, please see our Privacy Policy and our Terms & Conditions for additional detail.