Aug 222014
 
BuRec is going to release more water to aid returning adult Chinook salmon, the agency announced today. Press release below links to coverage of the decision.
Reclamation News Release Header

Reclamation to Release Additional Water
to Supplement Flows in the Lower Klamath River

Water release from Trinity Reservoir will begin Saturday, Aug. 23, at 7 a.m.;
Public urged to take safety precautions on or near the river while flows are high

REDDING, Calif. – The Bureau of Reclamation will release additional water from Trinity Reservoir to supplement flows in the lower Klamath River to help protect the returning run of adult Chinook salmon. The public is urged to take all necessary precautions on or near the river while flows are high during this period.

“We have determined that unprecedented conditions over the past few weeks in the lower Klamath River require us to take emergency measures to help reduce the potential for a large-scale fish die-off,” said Mid-Pacific Regional Director David Murillo. “This decision was made based on science and after consultation with Tribes, water and power users, federal and state fish regulatory agencies, and others.”

Several recent factors prevalent in the lower Klamath River are the basis for the decision to provide emergency augmentation flows. Reclamation will increase releases from Lewiston Dam beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, from approximately 450 cubic feet per second to approximately 950 cfs to achieve a flow rate of 2,500 cfs in the lower Klamath River.

At 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 25, releases from Lewiston Dam will begin increasing to approximately 2,450 cfs to achieve a flow rate of approximately 4,000 cfs in the lower Klamath River. This release from Lewiston Dam will be maintained for approximately 24 hours before returning to approximately 950 cfs and will be regulated at approximately that level as necessary to maintain lower Klamath River flows at 2,500 cfs until approximately Sunday, Sept. 14. River and fishery conditions will be continuously monitored, and those conditions will determine the duration.

“We fully recognize that during this prolonged severe drought, every acre-foot of water is extremely valuable, and we are making every effort to conserve water released for fish health purposes to reduce hardships wherever possible,” added Murillo.

Reclamation will continue to work with NOAA Fisheries and other federal agencies to comply with applicable provisions of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.

 

Aug 222014
 

The Fish and Wildlife Service violated the ESA when it granted an incidental take permit to the state of Montana that would have resulted in the loss of core habitat for the threatened grizzly bear, a federal judge has ruled (Friends of the Wild Swan v. S.M.R. Jewell, 13-61-M-DWM, D. Mont.).

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy remanded the matter to FWS to conduct an analysis under Section 10 of the ESA. In the meantime, the habitat conservation plan will remain in effect "with the exception of the portion of the plan that abandons secure core grizzly bear habitat in the Stillwater Block. The agency is enjoined from implementing a new management approach regarding grizzly bear habitat in the Stillwater Block until the requirements of the ESA are met."

Earthjustice announced the decision in a press release today.

“The service has not rationally justified its finding that the approach under the plan constitutes a complete offset—much less a net benefit—such that additional mitigation measures did not even need to be considered,” the judge ruled. “Absent independent investigation into the impracticability of greater mitigation measures, the service’s finding that the plan mitigates take of grizzly bears to the maximum extent practicable is arbitrary and capricious.”

"Despite the limited scientific support for the proposed management approach, the service found mitigation measures under the plan were sufficient, merely asserting that the plan expands the geographic scope of conservation measures and grizzly bears will adapt to changing habitat conditions," Molloy wrote.

According to Earthjustice's press release:

While agreeing with the conservation groups regarding the Stillwater Core issues, the judge upheld federal approval of a different portion of the [Department of Natural Resource and Conservation's] plan that authorized increased road construction and logging in habitat for the bull trout, an imperiled native fish species. The judge concluded that federal biologists properly issued DNRC a “take” permit for bull trout based on a state plan to inventory and remediate logging roads that are harming bull trout habitat. The conservationists promised to monitor the state’s implementation of that mitigation program to ensure that the DNRC lives up to its promise to mitigate harms to bull trout.

Aug 152014
 

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down petitions seeking review of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's decision to allow construction of a compressor station in Minisink, N.Y. (Minisink Residents for Environmental Preservation and Safety v. FERC, 12-1481).

Essentially, the court said it did not have the authority to second-guess FERC, which the court said had made a reasonable decision. In addition, the option favored by the petitioners was more environmentally damaging than the approved project, the court said.

In a footnote, the court said:

For instance, the Commission explained as follows:

• The Wagoner Alternative would impact ten times more land acreage (112.4) than the Minisink Project (10.6);
• The Wagoner Alternative would require the clearing of more trees and the conscription of more agricultural land than the Minisink Project;
• The Wagoner Alternative would necessitate the placement of pipeline across eleven wetlands and twelve waterbodies, raising complications not extant in the Minisink Project; and
• The Wagoner Alternative had the potential to impact five special status species, as opposed to one through the Minisink Project.

Links

MREPS website | MREPS petition for review

Millennium Pipeline

 

Wolverine listing proposal withdrawn

 Posted by on August 12, 2014
Aug 122014
 

The Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it is withdrawing its proposal to list the wolverine as threatened.

Links follow.


fws-logofws-logo


August 12, 2014
Contact: Gavin Shire, 703-346-9123, gavin_shire@fws.gov

Service Determines Wolverine Does Not Warrant
Protection Under Endangered Species Act

Future effects of climate change on species are uncertain; Service will continue to work with state partners to manage healthy and secure wolverine populations

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is withdrawing a proposal to list the North American wolverine in the contiguous United States as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The wolverine, a large but elusive member of the weasel family found in the Mountain West, has made a steady recovery in the past half century after hunting, trapping and poisoning nearly extirpated the species from the lower 48 states in the early 1900s.

While it is clear that the climate is warming, after carefully considering the best available science, the Service has determined that the effects of climate change are not likely to place the wolverine in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future. As a result, the wolverine does not meet the statutory definition of either a “threatened species” or an “endangered species” and does not warrant protection under the ESA.

Service Director Dan Ashe’s decision to withdraw the listing proposal was informed by the consensus recommendation of the agency’s three Regional Directors for the regions encompassing the wolverine’s known range in the contiguous United States—the Mountain Prairie, Pacific Northwest and Pacific Southwest regions. The three Directors made the recommendation based on a synthesis of the entire body of scientific evidence. The Service had previously extended the listing deadline by six months due to substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data relevant to the determination, as allowed by the ESA.

“Climate change is a reality, the consequences of which the Service deals with on a daily basis. While impacts to many species are clear and measurable, for others the consequences of a warming planet are less certain. This is particularly true in the Mountain West, where differences in elevation and topography make fine-scale prediction of climate impacts ambiguous,” said Ashe. “In this case, based on all the information available, we simply do not know enough about the ecology of the wolverine and when or how it will be affected by a changing climate to conclude at this time that it is likely to be in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future.”

The Service initially proposed to list the wolverine based on climate-change-model forecasts showing overall loss of spring snow across the range of the species. However, upon conducting a more thorough review and gathering additional information, the Service found that climate change models are unable to reliably predict snowfall amounts and snow-cover persistence in wolverine denning locations. Additionally, evidence suggests that wolverine populations grew and expanded in the second half of the last century and may continue to expand into suitable, unoccupied habitat. For example, wolverine sightings outside formerly known habitat occurred in the Sierra Nevada range in California in 2008 and in Colorado in 2012. And in April 2014, a wolverine was seen in the Uinta Range of Utah—the first confirmed sighting of the species in that state in some 30 years. Currently, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that wolverine habitat impacts due to the effects of climate change will affect the population in the foreseeable future.

“While we concluded that the wolverine does not merit Endangered Species Act protection at this time, this does not end our involvement in wolverine conservation,” said Ashe. “We will continue to work with our state partners as they manage for healthy and secure wolverine populations and monitor their status. If new information emerges that suggests we should take another look at listing, we will not hesitate to do that.”

Wolverine populations currently occur within the contiguous United States in the North Cascades Range in Washington and the Northern Rockies of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and a small portion of Oregon (Wallowa Range). Populations once existed in the Sierra Nevada of California and the southern Rocky Mountains in the states of Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.

Simultaneous with the withdrawal of the listing proposal, the Service is withdrawing a proposed special rule under Section 4(d) of the Act that would have tailored protections to those needed for the conservation of the species, and a proposed nonessential-experimental-population designation for the southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov, or connect with us through any of these social media channels:

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