Sep 152015
 

The Navy has agreed to significantly limit its use of mid-frequency sonar and explosives during training exercises, protecting species such as Hawaiian monk seals, blue, fin, gray and beaked whales, and dolphins, in a settlement of two cases approved by a federal judge in Hawaii yesterday (Conservation Council for Hawaii v. National Marine Fisheries Service, 13-684-SOM-RLP, D. Haw.; NRDC v. NMFS, 14-153-SOM-RLP, D. Haw.).

"For the first time, the Navy has agreed to put important habitat for numerous populations off-limits to dangerous mid-frequency sonar training and testing and the use of powerful explosives," Earthjustice said in a press release:

The settlement aims to manage the siting and timing of Navy activities, taking into account areas of vital importance to marine mammals, such as reproductive areas, feeding areas, migratory corridors, and areas in which small, resident populations are concentrated.

Many of the conservation organizations who brought the lawsuits have been sparring legally with the Navy and the National Marine Fisheries Service—the agency charged with protecting marine mammals—for more than a decade, demanding that the Navy and Fisheries Service comply with key environmental laws by acknowledging that the Navy’s activities seriously harm marine mammals and taking affirmative steps to lessen that harm.

Plaintiffs included the Conservation Council of Hawaii, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Ocean Mammal Institute, Animal Welfare Institute, Cetacean Society International, and Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Link: Google News search (Navy sonar)

More from the press release:

Key terms of the settlement applicable to Southern California include:

  • The Navy is prohibited from using mid-frequency active sonar for training and testing activities in important habitat for beaked whales between Santa Catalina Island and San Nicolas Island.
  • The Navy is prohibited from using mid-frequency active sonar for training and testing activities in important habitat for blue whales feeding near San Diego.
  • Navy surface vessels must use “extreme caution” and travel at a safe speed to minimize the risk of ship strikes in blue whale feeding habitat and migratory corridors for blue, fin and gray whales.

Hawaii

Areas around Hawaii Island.

 Areas around Hawaiʻi Island, where certain U.S. Navy activities will be limited under the settlement. (Larger Map)

Areas around the Maui 4-Island Complex.

Areas around the Maui 4-Island Complex, where certain U.S. Navy activities will be limited under the settlement. (Larger Map)

Key terms of the settlement applicable to Hawaiʻi include:

  • The Navy is prohibited from using mid-frequency active sonar and explosives for training and testing activities on the eastern side of the Island of Hawaiʻi and north of Molokaʻi and Maui, protecting Hawaiian monk seals and numerous small resident populations of toothed whales including the endangered insular population of false killer whales and Cuvier’s beaked whales.
  • The Navy is prohibited from exceeding a set number of major training exercises in the channel between Maui and Hawaiʻi Island and on the western side of Hawaiʻi Island, limiting the number of times local populations will be subjected to the massive use of sonar and explosives associated with major training exercises.
  • Navy surface vessels must use “extreme caution” and travel at a safe speed to minimize the risk of ship strikes in humpback whale habitat.

“This is a huge victory for critically endangered species like Hawaiʻi’s insular false killer whale, which is down to only about 150 animals,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Links

Sep 152015
 

The Ninth Circuit has affirmed a lower court ruling that backed the Coquille Indian Tribe's plan to conduct timber harvest on 268 acres of the Coquille Forest (Cascadia Wildlands v. BIA, 14-35553).

The plan, called the Kokwel Project, complied with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Coquille Restoration Act, the court ruled on Sept. 11

Cascadia Wildlands had argued that the project violated the CRA because it was inconsistent with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Recovery Plan for the northern spotted owl. But Circuit Judges Raymond C. Fisher, Carlos T. Bea and Mary H. Murguia found that "the CRA does not require compliance" with that recovery plan.

Coverage from Coos Bay World   (by Gail Elber)

Sep 152015
 

The Army Corps of Engineers has released a draft National Wetland Plant List (NWPL), which is used to delineate wetlands for purposes of the Clean Water Act and the Wetland Conservation Provisions of the Food Security Act. Other applications include wetland restoration, establishment, and enhancement projects.

The Corps worked with EPA, FWS and NRCS to come up with the draft. The Corps' brief release is here, but don't follow the Corps' links to the draft list, because they don't work. Instead, go to the link below.

More Federal Register notices, including proposal to list the white fringeless orchid and the 12-month finding for the New England cottontail, are below.

Public Inspection

FWS releases draft Environmental Assessment (dEA) for the Paso Robles Phase II draft Habitat Conservation Plan
(dHCP) (golden-cheeked warbler)

FS: The Sequoia National Forest to prepare an EIS to document and publicly disclose the environmental effects of implementing a fuels reduction and forest health project within a 10,600-acre project analysis area. "[F]uels reduction, ecological restoration and movement toward the desired conditions identified in the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment are the driving influences that will dictate the end result, with an emphasis on 'what is left behind' rather than 'what is taken.' "

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

FWS declines to list New England cottontail as a threatened or endangered species  |  Docket   and previous post

FWS proposes to list Platanthera integrilabia (white fringeless orchid), a plant species from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee, as a threatened species | Docket

NPS approves a Record of Decision for the FEIS and Wilderness Stewardship Plan (WSP) for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

BuRec releases North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program FEIS. "The North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program would provide recycled water from the Cities of Turlock and Modesto via the Central Valley Project's Delta-Mendota Canal to Del Puerto Water District for irrigation purposes, and would further provide annual supplemental water to south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta Central Valley Project Improvement Act-designated wildlife refuges."

NPS amends special regulations for Lake Meredith National Recreation Area to require permits to operate motor vehicles off roads, designate areas and routes where motor vehicles may be used off roads, create management zones that will further manage this activity, and establish camping, operational, and vehicle requirements

Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California to prepare EIS for Highway 89 Safety Enhancement and Forest Ecosystem Restoration Project

EPA seeks comments and recommendations on national enforcement initiatives (NEI) for fiscal years 2017-2019.

Monday, September 14, 2015

FWS, NOAA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Michigan Attorney General, collectively acting as trustees for natural resources, release Draft Restoration Plan and Programmatic EIS for Restoration Resulting from the Kalamazoo River Natural Resource Damage Assessment

FWS is seeking comments to assist us in developing a proposed rule for Clean Vessel Act grant program

BLM will prepare an EIS for the proposed Lost Creek Uranium In-Situ Recovery Project Amendments, Sweetwater County, WY

BLM releases ROD for the Approved Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Jarbidge Field Office located in the Twin Falls District (Idaho and Nevada)

NMFS receives application from Jane Provancha at Kennedy Space Center for a permit to take green sea (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research

NMFS receives application from Michael Bresette, Inwater Research Group Inc., 4160 NE Hyline Dr., Jensen Beach, FL, for a permit to take green (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Eretmochelys [[Page 55096]] imbricata), Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research.

USACE releases draft National Wetland Plant List (NWPL), which is used to delineate wetlands for purposes of the Clean Water Act and the Wetland Conservation Provisions of the Food Security Act. Other applications of the list include wetland restoration, establishment, and enhancement projects. (Part of an interagency effort with EPA, FWS, and NRCS)

USACE's Little Rock District will prepare a draft EIS for the Three Rivers Study. The EIS will evaluate potential impacts (beneficial and adverse) to the natural, physical, and human environment as a result of implementing any of the proposed project alternatives developed during the process. "Proposed improvements resulting from the study could impact (positively or negatively) navigation, agriculture, silviculture, hydropower, recreation, flood risk management, and fish and wildlife."

BOEM releases Proposed Notice of Sale for Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Sale 241

BOEM releases Proposed Notice of Sale for Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Area Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Sale 226