July 19, 2016 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today fulfilled a court ruling that had vacated its Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decision, by officially removing the lesser prairie-chicken from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
This administrative action and the decision not to appeal the court’s ruling do not constitute a biological determination on whether or not the lesser prairie-chicken warrants federal protection. The Service is undertaking a thorough re-evaluation of the bird’s status and the threats it faces using the best available scientific information to determine anew whether listing under the ESA is warranted.
WASHINGTON – The Departments of Interior, Agriculture and Defense joined with state and federal partners today to announce the designation of three new Sentinel Landscapes to benefit working lands, wildlife conservation and military readiness. Through the Sentinel Landscapes partnership, the DOI, USDA and DoD have committed to working together in overlapping priority areas near military installations to help farmers and ranchers make improvements to the land that benefit their operation, enhance wildlife habitat, and enable DoD's training missions to continue. This year’s Sentinel Landscapes were chosen for Avon Park Air Force Range in Florida, Camp Ripley in Minnesota and military bases in Eastern North Carolina.
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held an oversight hearing to hear from state and local representatives on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) draft Planning 2.0 Rule. This draft rule would dramatically shift resource management planning away from local communities to bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
Rare Earth Elements (REE) are a vital resource to industrialized societies and necessary for energy generation, transportation, data transmission and national defense. They are encompassed in everyday life whether in cell phones or energy provided by wind turbines. A report recently published by the Wyoming Sate Geological Survey (WSGS) examined REE occurrences within Wyoming.
“This report provides key information for individuals and companies interested in locating, evaluating and pursuing the potential commercial development of mineral resources that are critical to the progression of current and future high-tech industries,” says Tom Drean, director of the WSGS. “There is little doubt that REE will play a key role as new innovations and associated products are developed.”
The REE group is composed of 17 metallic elements. REE occurrences have been documented across Wyoming since the 1930s, but early exploration primarily focused on uranium and thorium, and REE were only an interesting association. Early investigations identified many sites that either hosted REE or were later interpreted to be potential REE occurrences. The studies, however, lacked complete elemental analyses.
VALLEJO, CALIF., JUNE 22, 2016 AT 2:30 PM EDT -The U.S. Forest Service today announced that it has identified an additional 26 million trees dead in California since October 2015. These trees are located in six counties across 760,000 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada region of the state, and are in addition to the 40 million trees that died statewide from 2010 to October 2015, bringing the total to at least 66 million dead trees. Four consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to historic levels of tree die-off.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.