Steve Davies

Steve Davies is editor and publisher of Endangered Species & Wetlands Report, which he started in 1995. Davies began his professional journalism career as a copy editor for the weekly Gazette Newspapers in Gaithersburg, Md., before becoming a reporter there. He then moved to Carlisle, Pa., covering Cumberland County government for the daily Sentinel. He returned to the Washington area to cover Congress and federal regulatory agencies for a series of trade newsletters before starting his own publication, which is an independent venture. Click LinkedIn for more detail.

Apr 282015
 

A coalition of "timber, ranching, and forest recreation industries" lack standing to challenge the Forest Service's 2012 planning rule, a federal judge has ruled (Federal Forest Resource Coalition v. Vilsack, 12-1333 KBJ, D.D.C.).

"Plaintiffs have failed to show that the 2012 Planning Rule threatens an injury-in-fact that is imminent, or particularized. Moreover, because the injuries that plaintiffs allege cannot be traced to the challenged action of the defendant, plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that the 2012 Planning Rule will cause them harm," U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said in her opinion, issued today.

She previously issued an order in the case; the opinion elucidates the reasons behind that order.

"The gravamen of plaintiffs’ complaint . . . is the contention that the 2012 Planning Rule exceeds the Forest Service’s statutory authority by requiring land management plans to privilege environmental goals, such as maintaining 'ecological sustainability' and 'ecosystem services,' over other competing uses of national forests, such as logging, grazing, and recreation," the judge summarized.

The plaintiffs are:

Federal Forest Resource Coalition, American Forest Resource Council, Blueribbon Coalition, California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Sheep Industry Association, Alaska Forestry Association, Resource Development Council For Alaska, Minnesota Forest Industries Inc., Minnesota Timber Producers Association, California Forestry Association, and Montana Wood Products Association.

Four environmental groups intervened on the side of the government: Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Wild, The Wilderness Society and Defenders of Wildlife.

Apr 272015
 

Press release

Forest Service info on the Tennessee Creek Vegetation Management Project

Conservation groups, concerned about the effects of a logging project on lynx denning habitat, have filed suit against the Forest Service in Colorado (WildEarth Guardians v. Conner, 15-858, D. Colo.).

The defendant is Tamara Conner, District Ranger of the Leadville Ranger District in San Isabel National Forest.

"Conservationists see the project as an unfortunate example of a new USFS pattern: approving large-scale logging without identifying to the public—or even committing to itself internally—which mountain slopes will be affected, and in what ways. USFS is legally obligated to look before it leaps and keep the public informed," the groups said in their press release.

WildEarth Guardians is represented by the Western Environmental Law Center.

 

Apr 212015
 

The Associated Press is reporting that the Fish and Wildlife Service has decided not to list the California-Nevada population of greater sage-grouse as threatened or endangered. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will formally announce the decision today. (Press release below)

Reported the AP's Scott Sonner:

Jewell said in remarks prepared for a 1 p.m. [Tuesday] announcement with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval in Reno that she intends to withdraw the earlier proposal to declare the bistate population threatened. "The collaborative, science-based efforts in Nevada and California are proof that we can conserve sagebrush habitat across the West while we encourage sustainable economic development," she said.

Regulatory docket

All sage-grouse documents published in Federal Register over the years

PRESS RELEASE, April 21, 2015

Successful Conservation Partnership Keeps Bi-State Sage-Grouse Off Endangered Species List

Partnership among California, Nevada, Federal Agencies, & Landowners Helped Conserve Key Habitat, Reduce Threats to Bird

RENO, NV – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Bi-State population of greater sage-grouse does not require the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Secretary Jewell joined with USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird and other state and local partners to celebrate an extensive and long-term conservation partnership on behalf of the bi-state greater sage-grouse population. Federal, state and private partners have come together to proactively conserve key habitat and significantly reduce long-term threats to this distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse.

A key factor in the decision not to list the bird was the development of the Bi-State Action Plan, a conservation plan developed by partners in the Bi-State Local Area Working Group over the past 15 years and secured with $45 million in funding. This adds to nearly $30 million worth of conservation work USDA and other partners have already completed to implement this plan.

“Thanks in large part to the extraordinary efforts of all the partners in the working group to address threats to greater sage-grouse and its habitat in the Bi-State area, our biologists have determined that this population no longer needs ESA protection,” said Jewell. “What’s more, the collaborative, science-based efforts in Nevada and California are proof that we can conserve sagebrush habitat across the West while we encourage sustainable economic development.”

“This is welcome news for all Nevadans. I applaud the local area working group, private citizens, Tribes, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and our federal partners for their tremendous efforts to develop conservation actions that preclude the need to list the species while still allowing for sustainable economic development,” said Sandoval. “Today’s announcement highlights the critical partnerships that must exist for our conservation strategies to be effective and demonstrate that sage grouse and economic development can coexist in both the bi-state area and across the range of the greater sage-grouse.”

“Together, we’ve worked with ranchers, conservation groups, and local governments in Nevada and California to take proactive steps to restore and enhance sage-grouse habitat while also helping them improve their ranching operations,” Bonnie said. “The decision to not list the bi-state sage-grouse proves this work has paid off.”

“The efforts of the local working group and the partnerships they’ve built over the past decade are truly unprecedented,” said Dan Ashe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director. “They have set the stage for the next generation of conservation and convinced us that the sage-grouse population has a bright future in the Bi-State region.”

“California is committed to continue working with our public and private partners in implementing this strong, science-based conservation plan into the future,” said Laird. “This partnership between California and Nevada serves as a model for effective conservation of the Greater sage-grouse in other Western states.”

As its name suggests, the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment straddles the California-Nevada border, where biologists estimate that between 2,500 and 9,000 of these ground-dwelling birds inhabit about 4.5 million acres of high-desert sagebrush. Greater sage-grouse are known for the males’ flamboyant springtime mating displays on traditional dancing grounds, also called leks. The birds use a variety of sagebrush habitats throughout the year on private, state and federal lands.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the Bi-State population of greater sage-grouse a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) under the ESA in 2010 because genetic analysis shows it has been separated from other greater sage-grouse for thousands of years and the genetic differences are significant.

In October 2013, the Service proposed listing the Bi-State DPS as threatened under the ESA based on significant population declines due to the loss and fragmentation of its sagebrush habitat from urbanization and associated infrastructure development, encroachment of sagebrush by conifers, and a vicious cycle of wildfire and fire-adapted invasive grasses. These threats, combined with the relatively limited number of birds, the small population size and their isolation, were determined to pose a significant threat to the species.

The Service is withdrawing this proposal in large part because of the success of the Bi-State Action Plan. The plan is the product of the Bi-State Area Local Working Group, comprising federal, state and local agencies and landowners from Nevada and California, which has been pursuing sage-grouse conservation since the early 2000s. Since then, the working group’s technical advisory committee has finalized plans on nearly 80 science-driven conservation projects specifically designed to reduce identified threats and protect the sagebrush-steppe habitat.

The working group’s executive oversight committee has raised more than $45 million in federal and state funding to ensure the projects are implemented and completed over the next 10 years. Long-term projects implemented under the Bi-State Action Plan include population monitoring, urbanization abatement measures, livestock management, wild horse management, pinyon and juniper removal, disease and predation studies and other habitat improvement and restoration projects.

Each of the projects is tied to a specific population management unit within the region, led and funded by a specific agency or partnership, and ranked by the immediacy of the threat to the species.

The comprehensive plan and funding commitments give the Service confidence that effective conservation measures needed to address threats to the species are highly likely to be implemented.

The working group members include private landowners in California and Nevada, Nevada Department of Wildlife, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nevada Division of Forestry, California State Parks, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, nongovernmental organizations such as Nevada Wildlife Federation, Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Defense and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Conservation work on private lands – through easements and habitat restoration – has played an important role in connecting national forests and other public lands, working to keep habitat intact. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has already invested nearly $20 million in conservation assistance to ranchers through this effort. This has helped ranchers protect 7,300 acres of key summer habitat through easements, with an additional 4,500 acres in process. This investment has also helped them remove invading juniper and pinyon trees, enhancing nearly 4,000 acres of important sagebrush-steppe habitat.

This summer, the Forest Service will begin treatments to improve sagebrush ecosystem health on 29,000 acres of key habitat for the sage grouse.

The USGS has been a key partner in monitoring the Bi-State population and interpreting data collected to assure the Bi-State partners are using the best science in their conservation efforts.

Along with withdrawing the listing proposal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also withdrawing proposed rules under section 4(d) of the ESA and the proposed designation of critical habitat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is concurrently conducting a separate status review for the greater sage-grouse across its 11-state range. In 2010, it determined the greater sage-grouse was warranted for protection but that action was precluded by higher priorities. A determination on whether the species still requires protection is due Sept. 30, 2015.

The deteriorating health of the greater sage-grouse and western sagebrush landscapes has sparked an unprecedented and proactive partnership across eleven states to conserve the uniquely American habitat that supports diverse wildlife, outdoor recreation, and ranching and other traditional land uses that form the cornerstone of the Western way of life.

For more detailed information on the Bi-State DPS of the greater sage-grouse and its habitat, along with more information about conservation projects that are being done to help protect this unique species, visit www.fws.gov/greatersagegrouse.

Apr 152015
 

An EPA/Army Corps of Engineers rule defining "waters of the United States" would be delayed for a year under a spending bill released by House Republicans (text).

The bill is scheduled to be marked up Thursday, April 16, by the energy and water subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

The bill also would prevent the Corps from making any changes to the EPA/Corps "fill" rule, which has been harshly criticized by environmental groups.

In addition, the House bill would allocate $200 million for the Corps' regulatory program, which has responsibility for implementing the Clean Water Act Section 404 program. That amount is $5 million less than the Obama Administration's budget request.

Here is the text from the bill:

SEC. 104. None of the funds made available in this or any other Act making appropriations for Energy and Water Development for any fiscal year may be used by the Corps of Engineers to develop, adopt, implement, administer, or enforce any change to the regulations in effect on October 1, 2012, pertaining to the definitions of the terms ‘‘fill material’’ or ‘‘discharge of fill material’’ for the purposes of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.).

SEC. 105. None of the funds made available in this or any other Act making appropriations for Energy and Water Development for any fiscal year may be used by the Corps of Engineers to develop, adopt, implement, administer, or enforce any change to the regulations and guidance in effect on October 1, 2012, pertaining to the definition of waters under the jurisdiction of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.), including the provisions of the rules dated November 13, 1986, and August 25, 1993, relating to such jurisdiction, and the guidance documents dated January 15, 2003, and December 2, 2008, relating to such jurisdiction.

SEC. 106. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to require a permit for the discharge of dredged or fill material under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251, et seq.) for the activities identified in subparagraphs (A) and (C) of section 404(f)(1) of the Act (33 U.S.C. 1344(f)(1)(A), (C)).

Oregon to consider removing wolves from state endangered species list

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider taking gray wolves off the state endangered species list. Department of Fish and Wildlife will present its Biological Status Review at a public meeting Friday, April 24, in Bend. The report is available here (see Exhibit F).

"The Wolf Plan calls for initiating a process to delist wolves from the state Endangered Species Act when Oregon reaches the conservation objective of four breeding pairs for three consecutive years in eastern Oregon," the department said. "This objective was met in 2014. The Commission will use the Biological Status Review to evaluate whether to move forward with a delisting process."

Coverage at Oregon Public Broadcasting

BLM releases Bundy documents that shed little light on confrontation

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has gotten a response to its FOIA request on the Cliven Bundy confrontation. But there's not much there.

"Internal records released by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management concerning the armed stand-off with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy give little clue of what led up to the confrontation and even less of what changed as a result," PEER said this morning. "The records were given to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) as a result of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against BLM."

In a reply to PEER's FOIA request, Theresa Coleman, Chief of BLM’s Information Resources Management Division, said the agency had no records responsive to three of the five categories of materials sought by PEER:

  • What became of the hundreds of Bundy’s cattle collected by BLM before the round-up of trespassing cattle was called off;
  • Any requests for prosecution BLM made to the U.S. Department of Justice; and
  • Directives issued after April 1, 2014, within BLM concerning protocols or advisories for handling similar incidents of armed resistance or other livestock trespass situations.

“In the aftermath of this incident, BLM apparently did not analyze either its effects or what to do if it happened again,” PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said.

Ruch said PEER lawyers are trying to verify whether this is BLM’s final answer and there are not more documents that have yet to be released. “Despite operating in what is self-described as ‘the most transparent administration in history,’ this exercise has been as productive as squeezing blood from a turnip,” Ruch said.

More links are at the bottom of PEER's press release

 

 

 

Apr 142015
 

A federal judge invalidated incidental take permits issued by FWS and NMFS that covered about 150,000 acres of forest land in northern California (Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center v. NOAA, 13-3717 NC, N.D. Cal.).

U.S. District Judge Nathanael Cousins found the incidental take permits issued by the services, the biological opinion issued by NMFS, and the Final Environmental Impact Statement invalid.

But Cousins denied KS Wild's summary judgment motion to invalidate FWS's biological opinion.

"[I]n light of the fact that the court did not invalidate FWS’s biological opinion, and given the parties’ cursory treatment of this incidental-take-statement issue, the court seeks additional briefing as to why it should not grant summary judgment to the services on KS Wild’s third claim. Additionally, the court seeks additional briefing concerning why the Zolin case—or any other case articulating the waiver principle—should apply."

Excerpts:

Main claim: That FWS and NMFS "improperly issued 50-year incidental take permits to defendant-intervenor Fruit Growers Supply Company to take two 'threatened' species: the northern spotted owl and the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast coho salmon. KS Wild alleges multiple
violations of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act."

"KS Wild’s key allegation is that Fruit Growers wrongfully obtained an incidental take permit by piggybacking off of the U.S. Forest Service’s conservation efforts on neighboring lands."

"Fruit Growers manages its lands in northern California in three management units: the Klamath River Management Unit, the Scott Valley Management Unit, and the Grass Lake Management Unit. The Klamath River and Scott Valley Management Units are located west of the Interstate 5 in Siskiyou County, California, and the Grass Lake Management Unit is located east of the Interstate 5, north of Mt. Shasta, and also in Siskiyou County."

Links:

CBD, et al., release on decision

Coverage on Nossaman LLP's page

 

 

Apr 132015
 

Citing "the interest of justice, particularly the interest of Alabama’s citizens in deciding this controversy at home," U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta has transferred Gulf Restoration Network's challenge to the approval of the Gulf State Park Enhancement Project to the Southern District of Alabama (Gulf Restoration Network v. Jewell, 14- 1773 APM, D.D.C., 4/9/15).

"This case could have been brought in the Southern District of Alabama, and the court has considered the relevant private- and public-interest factors," the judge said. "Ultimately, the localized interest of Alabama’s citizens in having this controversy decided in Alabama tips the scales in favor of transfer."

EXCERPTS

Plaintiff alleges that the decision to approve the project, which is to be located in the State of Alabama’s Gulf State Park, violated the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

The Gulf State Park Enhancement Project was among the projects that the Alabama Trustees identified. The Project contemplated the construction of a hotel, a convention center, and facilities for environmental research and education, along with various recreational and ecological enhancements. Id. at 55-56. All aspects of the Project were to be located in Gulf State Park, which is located on state-owned land in southern Alabama on the coast bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

The facts in Otay Mesa Property L.P. v. U.S. Dep’t of Interior and Stand Up are also distinguishable from those of the instant case, because in neither case was there an interested “local population,” like the people of Alabama. In Otay Mesa, the litigation regarded “private property that is not accessible by the public” and therefore “directly affect[ed] only the [p]laintiffs.” 58 F. Supp. 2d 122, 128 (D.D.C. 2008). The court explicitly distinguished the facts of its case from that of cases, such as this one, where, “the local population faced specific injury of a particularly local nature either as a result of, or upon enjoinment of, a challenged action.” Id. at 127

And here's the conclusion:

In summary, the question whether to transfer is a close one. The plaintiff’s choice of forum is entitled only to some deference because the District of Columbia is not its home forum. Defendants’ choice of forum is afforded some countervailing weight. The remaining private- and public-interest factors, save one, are neutral. What then tips the balance in favor of transfer is the substantial local interest in deciding local controversies at home. Defendants’ motion to transfer this case to the Southern District of Alabama is therefore granted.

Links

Information from Univ. of Alabama

Description from NOAA (winter 2013/2014)

Gulf Restoration Network, Official statement on Deepwater Horizon NRDA early projects (12/6/13)

Earlier from GRN (May 6, 2013):

"The other states are proposing an unsettling combination of tourism ‘enhancement’ construction projects with a few pennies being thrown at ecosystem restoration. Alabama, for example, is spending 80% of their funds on hotel and conference center in a state park. This project violates the public trust because it will restrict access to the resources in this area to those who can afford to stay at this hotel and attend conferences here. This construction will also destroy habitat, further endangering habitat for protected species like the beach mouse and threatened and endangered sea turtles. This obscene amount of money being pumped into an economic development project dwarfs the $8 million Alabama will spend on true restoration of oyster reefs."

Apr 102015
 

More as we have time... Here's the 8th Circuit's summary:

04/10/2015  Hawkes Co., Inc.  v.  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers   133067P.pdf
U.S. Court of Appeals Case No:  13-3067
U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis
[PUBLISHED] [Loken, Author, with Bright and Kelly, Circuit Judges]
Civil case - Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The Corps' issuance of
an Approved Jurisdiction Determination that plaintiffs' property
constitutes "waters of the United States" within the meaning of the
Federal Water Pollution Control Act, thereby requiring plaintiffs to
obtain a permit to discharge dredged or filled materials into the
"navigable waters, was a final agency action for purposes of the
Administrative Procedure Act, and the district court erred in dismissing
the case for lack of a final agency action. Judge Kelly, concurring.

Apr 082015
 

There are two ways of looking at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's recent wolf monitoring report: The number of wolf deaths declined 24 percent (from 473 to 360) and the estimated number of wolves in the state increased from 684 to 770. Also, said the report, "The number of reproductive wolf packs (or pairs) in Idaho is far higher than the number of wolf packs documented to meet the federal breeding pair criteria." (IDFG press release)

But another take is that the documented number of wolves was actually down in 2014 from the year before. And, despite an increase in the number of documented breeding pairs (from 20 to 26), the number of breeding pairs is down significantly since Idaho began allowing the hunting of wolves.

"Unlike Montana and Wyoming, Idaho does not base its population estimate solely on observation of wolf packs by the state's biologists, but rather combines direct observations with extrapolated wolf numbers," the Center for Biological Diversity said.

"Idaho's biologists actually documented only 272 wolves in 43 packs, but the state claims 770 wolves in 104 packs based on hunter reports and an average pack size of 6.5 wolves. There are probably more than 43 packs, but because hunters likely report dispersing wolves or even coyotes and pack size varies considerably, the exact number is unknown. This is why both Montana and Wyoming present a minimum count of just the wolves that they themselves count."

Number of documented wolf packs and documented breeding pairs in Idaho, 1995-2014. Annual numbers were based on best information available and were retroactively updated as new information was obtained.

Number of documented wolf packs and documented breeding pairs in Idaho, 1995-2014. Annual numbers were based on best information available and were retroactively updated as new information was obtained. (from IDFG report)

Excerpts from the report:

Biologists documented 104 packs within the state at the end of 2014. In addition, there were 23 documented border packs counted by Montana, Wyoming, and Washington that had established territories overlapping the Idaho state boundary. Additional packs are suspected but not included due to lack of documentation.

Determination of breeding pair status was made for 43 packs. Of these, 26 packs met breeding pair criteria at the end of 2014, and 17 packs did not (Table 1). No determination of breeding pair status was made for the remaining 61 packs. Reproduction (production of at least 1 pup) was documented in a minimum 55 packs.
The year-end population for documented packs, other documented groups not qualifying as packs, and lone wolves was estimated at 770 wolves.

Mortalities of 360 wolves were documented in Idaho in 2014, 113 wolves (24%) less than in 2013. Human-caused mortality accounted for 342 of 344 (99%) wolf mortalities during 2014 where cause of death could be determined. Legal harvest was 256 wolves, agency removal and legal take was 67 wolves, and mortality from other human causes was 19 wolves. Sixteen wolf mortalities were attributed to unknown causes and two were attributed to natural causes.

The probability that a pack meets breeding pair criteria increases as pack size increases (Mitchell et al. 2008). Consistent with this relationship, the proportion of packs meeting the breeding pair criterion decreased noticeably as pack size diminished after harvest began in 2009 (Figure 5). The increase in breeding pairs detected during 2014 was associated both with an increase in mean pack size, and with an increase in field effort during 2014.

Apr 082015
 

The Fish and Wildlife Service says there is now enough evidence to consider listing the northern spotted owl as endangered.

The service has made a positive 90-day finding, which has yet to be officially released. FWS did post a news release, however, and American Bird Conservancy (see below) and other groups have hailed the move, which is the result of a petition submitted by the Environmental Protection Information Center

Note: The spotted owl has not actually be proposed for endangered status, as claimed by ABC below. The service has made a 90-day finding, the first step in the petition process.

AMERICAN BIRD CONSERVANCY MEDIA RELEASE

Contact: Steve Holmer,  sholmer@abcbirds.org

Northern Spotted Owl Continues to Decline – Endangered Listing Needed

(Washington, D.C., April 7, 2015) The Northern Spotted Owl has been proposed for endangered status under the Endangered Species Act, a decision supported by American Bird Conservancy. Endangered status is warranted by the owl’s rapid population decline, and scientific studies indicating that habitat loss and the Barred Owl’s incursion into Northwest forests are pushing the Northern Spotted Owl to the brink of extinction.

“Considering the Northern Spotted Owl’s population decline, a reduction in breeding success, and the growing presence of Barred Owls based on 2013 monitoring reports, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to take decisive action,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor for American Bird Conservancy.

There are eight long-term demography studies that make up the federal government’s monitoring program for the Northern Spotted Owl. Populations in all eight study areas are in decline and well below historic averages for both total numbers and breeding success.

“In the Tyee demographic study area near Roseburg, Oregon, the population has seen a severe drop in the last five years; only 29 owl pairs were found in 2013 compared to 66 pairs ten years ago; the number of females nesting has decreased, as has the average number of offspring,” said Holmer. Researchers concluded that “the last 3 years of reproduction have been the lowest on record and resulted in the fewest number of young produced.”

In addition, the Northwestern California monitoring report found that over the past five years owl detections have decreased 30%. In Oregon’s Coast Range study area, the percentage of sites with spotted owl detection has declined from a high of 88 percent in 1991, to a low of 23 percent in 2013. And for three consecutive years no sub-adult owls were sited.

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) submitted a reclassification petition for the northern spotted owl to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on August 15, 2012.

American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere’s bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

Apr 082015
 

FWS has proposed a new 4(d) rule for the Georgetown salamander. Well, it will release the new 4(d) proposed rule officially tomorrow. But in the meantime, click on the link above for the proposal, now on Pubic Inspection at the Federal Register, and check below for an advance copy of the FAQ, graciously provided by FWS spokesperson Lesli Gray. Thank you, Lesli.

Here's the salient portion from the first answer. Of course, see below and you can read the whole thing. And here's the regulatory docket.

"The original proposed 4(d) rule for the Georgetown salamander stated that incidental take resulting from activities consistent with conservation measures in the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone Water Quality Ordinance would not be prohibited under the ESA. Since publication of the proposed 4(d) rule, the City of Georgetown has incorporated, and expanded upon, the ordinance in their Unified Development Code (UDC), which is the primary tool used by the City to regulate development. The revised 4(d) rule proposes that incidental take of the Georgetown salamander will not be prohibited if the take results from regulated activities conducted consistent with the water quality protection measures contained in Chapter 11 and Appendix A of the UDC."