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Multiple Use Information Resource Network - A link between the outdoor recreation community and federal and state agencies on matters of land use, conservation and administrative action that affect motorized recreation.
Updated: 1 hour 12 min ago

BLM Releases Solar Energy Monitoring Strategy

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 12:43

The Bureau of Land Management released today the final strategy for monitoring the impacts of solar energy development in eastern Riverside County. Public comments from the October draft strategy were considered into this final strategy which is part of the implementation of the Western Solar Plan.

The Riverside East Long Term Monitoring Strategy will help the BLM understand solar energy development's broad-scale effects on resources such as vegetation, hydrology, and air quality. The information generated through the strategy will help the BLM permit future solar energy projects.

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Categories: Legislation

Cherry-Picked Science and Non-Transparent Tactics used to Justify Overreaching Agenda

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 10:10
Panel: Obama Administration Relies on Cherry-Picked Science and Non-Transparent Tactics to Justify Overreaching Agenda

Washington, D.C. -- Today (May 19, 2016), the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing to examine deficiencies in regulatory transparency at the Department of the Interior (DOI).

Transparency is the cornerstone of a participatory democracy, but there are glaring failures from the increasing use of executive orders and questionable science from the self-proclaimed “most transparent Administration.” Regulations have insufficient public comment periods, lack independently verifiable supporting data and the cumulative impacts are never assessed.  Time after time, access to supporting scientific studies and agency data are unavailable to the public.

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Categories: Legislation

Forest Service and Partners Gear Up for Significant 2016 Wildfire Season

Tue, 05/17/2016 - 16:12
Current Outlook Underscores Need to Reform Wildfire Funding

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell met today with Forest Service Regional Foresters to discuss preparations for anticipated significant wildland fire potential in 2016. The briefing comes as the 2016 fire season has begun with five times more acres already burned than this time last year, following 2015's record-setting fire season.

"The 2016 wildfire season is off to a worrisome start. Southern California, the Great Basin in Nevada, portions of the southwest, and even Florida and Hawaii are particularly vulnerable this year. In California, more than 40 million trees have died, becoming dry fuel for wildfire," said Vilsack. "Congress must take action now to ensure that we, and, ultimately the firefighters we ask so much of, have the resources to do the restoration and wildfire prevention work necessary to keep our forests healthy."

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Categories: Legislation

Wild Horse and Burro Populations Increase

Fri, 05/13/2016 - 11:06
Wild Horses and Burros on Public Rangelands Now 2.5 Times Greater than 1971 when Protection Law Was Passed

BLM seeks to expand initiatives to address problems with new legislative authority

  • 46,000 Horses Already Being Cared for Off-Range
  • Off-Range Care of Unadopted Horses Would Exceed $1 Billion
  • Necessary Horse Gathers Exceed Available Space and Funding

The Bureau of Land Management announced today that as of March 1, 2016, more than 67,000 wild horses and burros are roaming Western public rangelands – a 15 percent increase over the estimated 2015 population.

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Categories: Legislation

Historic Drought Helps Predict How Climate Change Might Affect an Endangered Species

Wed, 05/11/2016 - 10:09
Extreme 2012-2014 drought a "crystal ball" into future climate change

The Bureau of Land Management, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and The Nature Conservancy announce the release of a new study documenting the negative effects of the 2012-2014 drought, the most severe multi-year drought in southwestern North America in the past 1200 years, on an endangered lizard in the San Joaquin Desert of California. The results provide a unique glimpse into the potential effects of future droughts expected in California as a result of climate change, and provide guidance on how to buffer these negative effects to avoid species extinction.

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Categories: Legislation

Tourism to Mojave National Preserve Creates Nearly 43 million in Economic Benefits in 2015

Wed, 05/11/2016 - 09:34

A new National Park Service (NPS) reports shows that 589,156 visitors to Mojave National Preserve spent $33,720,400 in communities near the park in 2015. That spending supported 486 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $42,746,200.

"Mojave National Preserve welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world," Superintendent Todd Suess said. "We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. We feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers."

Superintendent Suess said the report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and that this spending is a big factor in the local economy as well. "We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors, and we are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities," he said.

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Categories: Legislation

Flake, McCain Call for Revised Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan

Sun, 05/01/2016 - 12:04

Washington, DC– U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) today introduced the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan Act to direct the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to publish the first revised recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico in 34 years. As a result of the 1982 Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan, an experimental population of wolves were placed in Arizona and New Mexico and since that time, land owners and public officials have voiced concern about the program.

This legislation would require that the USFWS work with state and local entities to ensure they have input in the drafting of a new recovery plan. In addition, if the USFWS does not comply with the plan, then Arizona and New Mexico are able to supplement or assume management of the recovery process. This bill also includes a provision that would require automatic delisting of the Mexican gray wolf as an endangered species once conservation goals have been reached.

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Categories: Legislation

US Forest Service to begin annual aerial surveys in early summer

Fri, 04/15/2016 - 11:57

Tree mortality expected to climb from 2015

VALLEJO, California – With tree mortality rising to an estimated record-high 27.6 million trees in California in 2015, the U.S. Forest Service Aerial Survey team’s role in generating data for the agency and state and local partners is more critical than ever.

The U.S. Forest Service began doing aerial survey detection in the Pacific Northwest Region in the 1950s, with a small program in the Pacific Southwest Region (California) established in the 1990s. A dedicated team was assigned to the regional office in the early 2000s when Sudden Oak Death became more prevalent. In addition to detecting the Sudden Oak Death and conifer mortality, aerial survey flights first detected the Gold Spotted Oak Borer infestation in 2004. 

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Categories: Legislation

Moss is useful bioindicator of cadmium air pollution, new study finds

Thu, 04/14/2016 - 16:15

April 6, 2016. Moss growing on urban trees is a useful bio-indicator of cadmium air pollution in Portland, Oregon, a U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station-led study has found. The work - the first to use moss to generate a rigorous and detailed map of air pollution in a U.S. city - is published online in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

"What's unique about this study is that we used moss to track down previously unknown pollution sources in a complex urban environment with many possible sources," said Sarah Jovan, a research lichenologist at the station based in Portland and one of the study's co-leads.

Moss have been used as bioindicators - living organisms that can help monitor environmental health - by the Forest Service and other agencies for decades. Because moss lack roots, they absorb all of their water and nutrients from the atmosphere, inadvertently taking up and storing whatever compounds happen to be in the air.

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Categories: Legislation

Methane from Some Wetlands May Lower Benefits of Carbon Sequestration

Thu, 04/14/2016 - 15:02

Sacramento, Calif. – Methane emissions from restored wetlands may offset the benefits of carbon sequestration a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests. Wetlands are known to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide through plant photosynthesis and also provide habitat and food sources for wildlife, act as biological filters for improving water quality and improve coastal protection in the face of sea level rise. What is not well understood is how wetland production of other more potent greenhouses gases like methane offset these benefits. Results from the new study show that restored wetlands can release enough methane to reduce or even negate the benefits the same wetlands offer of carbon sequestration.

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Categories: Legislation

New Maps Illuminate Monterey Bay Area Seafloor

Thu, 04/07/2016 - 10:39

Six new sets of maps from USGS reveal the diverse and complex range of seafloor habitats along 130 kilometers (80 miles) of the central California coast from the Monterey Peninsula north to Pigeon Point. The publicly available maps can be used by a large stakeholder community to understand and manage California’s vast and valuable marine resources. 

The new sets of maps reveal the diverse and complex range of seafloor habitats along 130 kilometers (80 miles) of the central California coast from the Monterey Peninsula north to Pigeon Point. The publicly available maps can be used by a large stakeholder community to understand and manage California’s vast and valuable marine resources. 

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Categories: Legislation

New Maps Illuminate Monterey Bay Area Seafloor

Thu, 04/07/2016 - 10:39

Six new sets of maps from USGS reveal the diverse and complex range of seafloor habitats along 130 kilometers (80 miles) of the central California coast from the Monterey Peninsula north to Pigeon Point. The publicly available maps can be used by a large stakeholder community to understand and manage California’s vast and valuable marine resources. 

The new sets of maps reveal the diverse and complex range of seafloor habitats along 130 kilometers (80 miles) of the central California coast from the Monterey Peninsula north to Pigeon Point. The publicly available maps can be used by a large stakeholder community to understand and manage California’s vast and valuable marine resources. 

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Categories: Legislation

Two New Klamath Basin Agreements Carve out Path for Dam Removal and Provide Key Benefits to Irrigators

Thu, 04/07/2016 - 10:09

The U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Commerce, PacificCorp, and the states of Oregon and California today State and federal officials also signed a new, separate agreement with irrigation interests and other parties known as the 2016 Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement (KPFA). This agreement will help Klamath Basin irrigators avoid potentially adverse financial and regulatory impacts associated with the return of fish runs to the Upper Klamath Basin, which are anticipated after dams are removed.

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Categories: Legislation

Forest Service research grasslands, shrublands 2015 Annual Report issued

Thu, 03/31/2016 - 10:07

Attached is the 2015 Annual Report for one of the USDA Forest Service (FS) research programs that places an emphasis on western native plants.  

This issue takes a look at a few of the 2015 research and application studies conducted by scientists and their partners with the Forest Service’s Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems Science Program (GSD). Significant results of recent research and science delivery by program scientists are highlighted. We feature program research that lines up with the strategic research priorities of the USDA Forest Service, as well as those of our stakeholders. In particular, we spotlight accomplishments in research and technology that address:

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Categories: Legislation

Volume and value of West coast log, lumber exports down in 2015

Thu, 03/31/2016 - 09:46

Volume and value of West coast log, lumber exports down in 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. March 22, 2016. The latest data summarizing West coast log and lumber exports in the fourth quarter of 2015 were released today by the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station. The data—covering exports during October, November, and December 2015—were compiled and analyzed by Xiaoping Zhou, a research economist with the station.

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Categories: Legislation

The Western Governors’ ESA Initiative

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 09:24

March 8, 2016: The U.S. Congress has not reauthorized the Endangered Species Act since 1992. Despite many attempts to both amend and reauthorize the Act, a 1997 bi-partisan bill introduced by Idaho’s then-Senator Dirk Kempthorne came the closest.[1]

This year the center of gravity for examining the Endangered Species Act (“ESA” or “Act”) has shifted to western governors – those who have the day-to-day experience managing difficult species issues. The Western Governors’ Association (“WGA”) is undertaking a review of the ESA, and is currently in the process of exploring ways and best practices to “elevate the role of states in species conservation efforts.”[2]

Past efforts to reform the ESA typically have not moved past the aspirations. In the midst of the Governors’ effort, however, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, “the Services”)[3] recently updated their policy for cooperating with states under the ESA.[4]This updated policy presents WGA and other involved stakeholders an opportunity to move the ESA toward a more cooperative partnership between federal and state actors. Realizing that opportunity will largely depend on the Services’ willingness to facilitate cooperative agreements with the States. Greater involvement by States could facilitate a more cooperative and innovative approach to ESA implementation.

The ESA Initiative

WGA represents the Governors of 19 Western states and 3 U.S.-flag islands. The WGA encourages “bipartisan policy development, information exchange and collective action on issues of critical importance to the Western United States.”[5] Each year the incoming Chairman of WGA may select a Chairman’s Initiative that analyzes a particular issue of western significance.[6] Following the multi-stakeholder effort to prevent the ESA listing of the Greater sage-grouse, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead selected the ESA as his topic of focus.

In announcing the initiative, Governor Mead outlined his aim to “change the conversation” and “take a hard look at the ESA” to see where it has been successful and where changes are needed.[7] Through a series of four workshops across the West,[8]participants have and will continue to “share best practices and engage in a robust conversation regarding species conservation efforts, and explore ways to improve the efficacy of the Endangered Species Act.”[9]WGA has also hosted three webinars covering similar ESA topics.[10] At a minimum, WGA has already provided a great repository of information for those interested in the ESA.[11]

The ESA workshops to this point have been held in in Cody, Wyo. and Boise, Idaho. In a Boise Roundtable discussion, one panelist stated the ESA should be viewed as a “motivator,” and not a panacea for resolving these difficult issues.[12] Despite noting examples where the Act has been and is deficient, both Governors Mead and Otter urged attendees to continue on the difficult path of collaboration and “come up with an innovative process through which we can resolve this issue.”[13]While some participants may not agree that the ESA is in need of reform, the workshops prove to be a good place to have conversations regarding the impact of the ESA.

Possible Template

On February 22, 2016, the Services updated a 1994 policy clarifying the role of State agencies in implementing the ESA.[14] The reason for this update is two-fold: (1) to establish a “renewed commitment by the Services and State fish and wildlife agencies to work together” in conserving wildlife; and (2) to recognize the States’ role in implementing ESA tools that have emerged or are now more common since 1994, such as Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (“CCAAs”) and Habitat Conservation Agreements (“HCPs”).[15]

The ESA Cooperative Policy recognizes that States “possess broad trustee and police powers over fish, wildlife, and plans and their habitat within their borders.”[16] With this recognition, the policy invites States to have greater participation in five key ESA areas: Pre- and Post-listing under section 4; Section 7 consultations; HCP Planning; and Recovery efforts. The Services stress the need to utilize State expertise, authority and scientific information in all of these areas.

Specifically, in the Pre-listing context the Services encourage collaborative facilitation of “voluntary conservation actions”[17] on behalf of species before they reach the point at which they need Federal protection under the Act.[18] And if a species is listed under the ESA, a landowner may seek the regulatory assurances provided in a HCP. The updated policy could heighten interest in this conservation tool as it contemplates “work[ing] with State agencies to the maximum extent practicable,” especially when the State and Federal government both have “similar authority for permitting activities related to threatened and endangered species.”[19] The ESA Cooperative Policy provides the underlying rationale for this approach: “State agencies, because of their authorities and their close working relationships with local governments and landowners, are in aunique positionto assist the Services in implementing all aspects of the Act.”[20]

Implications for States and WGA

States will likely welcome the Federal invitation for greater Federal-State cooperation. In fact, most States seek greater state influence in statutes that foster a “cooperative Federalism” structure, such as the Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act.[21] But full partnership with the states under the ESA has always been elusive.[22] With the Services’ updated policy, the WGA, through its ESA Initiative, may now influence ESA enforcement.

From a State’s perspective, two immediate issues need to be addressed. First, there is a question of whether State fish and game agencies have the capacity (staffing and budgetary) to timely provide to decision-makers, the expertise and scientific information within the strict timeframes of required by the ESA. This is especially true for those agencies whose budgets heavily rely on licensing fees.

Second, is the potential for the States to use Section 6 of the ESA to influence Services’ decisionmaking. Although most States do not have a State-level ESA or similar permitting authority, the states might seek to utilize ESA Section 6 Agreements to foster innovation in ESA implementation.

Section 6 of the ESA states, “[i]n carrying out the program authorized by this Act, the Secretary shall cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the State.” 16 U.S.C. § 1535(a). The Secretary is authorized to memorialize this cooperation by an agreement “in accordance with this section with any State which establishes and maintains an adequate and active program for the conservation of endangered and threatened species.” 16 U.S.C. § 1535(c).

Up to now, Agreements under Section 6 of the ESA have been primarily used as a tool to provide funding to States to implement projects for conserving listed species.[23] However, Section 6 need not be limited to this purpose. These cooperative agreements have been an underutilized tool due to the Act’s ambiguous statutory language. For example what is an “adequate and active” State program? This ambiguity is compounded by the fact that implementing regulations for Section 6 do not exist.[24] The WGA could seek to increase the influence of the states by urging adoption of Section 6 regulations that would recognize these HCPs as vehicles for states to participate in ESA enforcement.[25]


WGA’s ESA Initiative has the potential to move the ESA Cooperative Policy from a needed policy statement to something meaningful for stakeholders involved with ESA issues. Section 6 Agreements and the development of implementing regulations provide one avenue to accomplish this objective. The ESA Initiative has made remarkable progress in a short period of time. It remains to be seen whether the leadership of western governors can move the conversation from instructive anecdotes and best practices to identifying achievable changes in the cooperative operation of the ESA.

For more information, please contact Tom Perry of the firm’s Boise office or any other member of Marten Law’s Natural Resourcespractice.

[1]SeeS. 1180, “Endangered Species Recovery Act of 1997”; available at: (last visited Mar. 1, 2016).

[2]Western Governors’ Association, “Chairman’s Initiative – The Western Governors’ Endangered Species Act Initiative”; available at: visited Mar. 1, 2016).

[3]The Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce have the responsibility for administering the ESA. Those duties have been delegated to the Services.

[4]SeeRevised Interagency Cooperative Policy Regarding the Role of State Agencies in Endangered Species Act Activities, 81 Fed. Reg. 8663 (Feb. 22, 2016) (hereinafter “ESA Cooperative Policy”).

[5]WGA Chairman’s Initiative; available at: visited Mar. 1, 2016).

[6]Past Chairmen’s Initiatives have included such issues: energy, sage-grouse, water and drought, wildfire, outdoor recreation, and forest health.See view the reports generated from these initiatives. The outcome of the initiative this year will also likely result in a report detailing the final recommendations and a resolution by the Governors endorsing those policy recommendations.

[7]Streater, Scott, “Western governors to take ‘hard look’ at ESA reform,” E&E News, Aug. 26, 2015; available at: visited Mar. 2, 2016); Morton, Tom, “Governor Calls for Endangered Species Act Reform,” Aug. 26, 2015; available at: visited Mar. 2, 2016) (Governor Mead commenting that “roughly 1 percent of all species that have been listed have been delisted. That is not a story of success.”).

[8]WGA Chairman’s Initiative, “Workshops Page,” available at: visited Mar. 2, 2016). WGA has made each panel, including the remarks of Governors Mead and Otter, available by YouTube video.

[9]SeeWGA Chairman’s Initiative; available at visited Mar. 2, 2016);see alsoRemarks of Matthew H. Mead, Governor of Wyoming, “Improving the Endangered Species Act: Perspectives from the Fish and Wildlife Service and State Governors,” U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife (Sept. 29, 2015); available at: (last visited Mar. 2, 2016).

[10]WGA Chairman’s Initiative, “Webinars Page,” available at: (last visited Mar. 2, 2016). These webinars are also available for public viewing.

[11]See generallyWGA Chairman’s Initiative; available at: visited Mar. 6, 2016).

[12]WGA Chairman’s Initiative, “Workshops Page: Boise Roundtable – Recognition of Voluntary Conservation Efforts,” 18:50) (last visited Mar. 2, 2016).

[13]WGA Chairman’s Initiative, “Workshops Page.”

[14]ESA Cooperative Policy at 8663.

[15]Id.For example, a CCAA provides assurances for enrolled and participating landowners that if the species is listed no additional conservation measures will be required. HCPs provide a similar type of regulatory assurance in the post-ESA listing context.

[16]ESA Cooperative Policy at 8663.

[17]Whether those pre-listing efforts are sufficient to preclude listing under the ESA, will likely require evaluation under the Services’ PECE Policy.See Policy for Evaluation of Conservation Efforts when Making Listing Decisions, 68 Fed. Reg. 15,100 (Mar. 28, 2003). The PECE Policy assists the Services in making ESA listing determinations where there are “formalized conservation efforts that have not yet been implemented or have been implemented, but have not yet demonstrated whether they are effective at the time of a listing decision.” The PECE Policy accomplishes this by identifying 15 individual criteria for assessing whether such efforts provide “a high level of certainty that the effort will be implemented and/or effective and results in the elimination or adequate reduction of the threats” posed to any species being considered for ESA 15,114-15.

[18]ESA Cooperative Policy at 8664. WGA and States would be wise to press for a clearer understanding of the Services’ application of the PECE Policy before entering into these pre-listing agreements. Recently, the policy has been under the judicial microscope in two recent ESA decisions involving the lesser prairie chicken and the dunes sagebrush lizard.See Permian Basin Petroleum Cons. P’ship v. Salazar, 2015 WL 5192526 (W.D. Tex. 2015) (vacating FWS’s decision to list the species as threatened based on an improper application of the PECE Policy)cf. Defenders of Wildlife, et al. v. Jewell, et al., Case No. 14-5284 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 1, 2016) (upholding the district court’s decision that FWS correctly applied the PECE Policy to states’ voluntary conservation efforts when it decided to withdraw the proposed listing of the decision).

[19]ESA Cooperative Policy at 8664.

[20] 8663 (emphasis added).

[21]This is typically referred to as “primacy.” Primacy under a “cooperative Federalism” statutory scheme is where states have been granted the primary responsibility for administering and enforcing the permit program in a way that is better attuned to their objectives.

[22]SeeTaylor, Phil, “Western governor resent being ‘junior partners’ to feds,” Environment & Energy Daily; available at: visited Mar. 2, 2016). (Utah Governor Gary Herbert stating, “[t]he nation has strayed from that constitutional principle of federalism,” and that states “should not be treated … as if we are somehow junior partners to the federal government.”).

[23]FWS, Grants Overview, available at: visited Mar. 1, 2016).

[24]Without implementing regulations, the limited experience of States and Section 6 Agreements beyond a funding mechanism has had mixed results. For example, the State of Idaho has experience with Section 6 Agreements as captured in the Snake River Act of 2004. SeeTitle X of Division J in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005, H.R. 4818, 108th Cong. (2004) (enacted). Unfortunately, even with the imprimatur of Congress, the cooperative promise of that particular Section 6 agreement has been a disappointment.

[25]The ESA Cooperative Policy, specifically mentions Section 6 agreements as an avenue to fulfill the policy’s direction.

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Categories: Legislation