Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good news on polar bear critical habitat proposal

We're pleased that US Fish and Wildlife Services proposed designating 128 million acres of critical habitat for the imperiled polar bear. And really, we want to just be happy, and pretend like it's all going to be OK. But, let's face it: Unless we stop carbon emissions, 200,000 square miles of habitat won't be enough- it will be mostly underwater. 93 percent of the designated area is (currently) sea ice.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wolf Awareness Week in Flagstaff, Arizona

The inspiring folks at the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project have manifested an awesome art installation in downtown Flagstaff. Tempting people into thinking about restoring wolves in northern Arizona, artist Lauren Strohacker created these silhouettes of wolves to temporarily grace downtown buildings. It's a great concept, and we hope that real wolves emerge from the shadows and re-inhabit their former range throughout the southwest.

You can donate to Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ranchers admit theirs is a history of "take and take some more"

IN this AP story on new water regulations in New Mexico, ranchers fret that clean water requirements might be the last nail in their coffin:
State environment officials have spent more than two years refining a proposal to designate rivers and streams in wilderness areas across the state as so-called "outstanding national resource waters" to protect them from degradation...
[State officals] ha[ve] tried to reassure ranchers and others that the designation won't affect existing activities if water quality is maintained.
And that's what is really worrying the ranchers- that they'll have to stop trashing public waters.
"Our history is the history of take and take some more, and what hurts is government is not accountable," [Abiquiu rancher Virgil Trujillo] said.
We completely agree- between the water withdrawals, the grazing subsidies, the depleted wildlife habitat- ranchers take and take and take. Asking the government to be accountable to all of its people- instead of just a small special interest group- would be a good thing. Richardson's Clean Water Act proposal fits the bill.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Obama no better than Bush?

The rejected ESA listing petition for spotted seals prompted this statement from the Center for Biological Diversity in today's NYT:
"While the rhetoric may be better, when it comes to actual action in protecting endangered species, the Obama administration is indistinguishable from Bush," Wolf said. "Sound science and the protection of the environment still take a back seat to political expediency."
Seems like she's onto something. Only two species have gained ESA protections so far, the gray wolf was delisted in the Northern Rockies, Obama's pick to lead the FWS is no friend to imperiled species, and don't get us started on Cowboy Ken Salazar. It just isn't the change we were hoping for, is it?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Same old spin on slickspot peppergrass

The US Fish and Wildlife Service published a new rule today to list the slickspot peppergrass (a.k.a. "puddle posey")as threatened. The listing was announced last week, and you can read more about the long-running political shenanigans here and here. But the news item that caught our attention this morning was this, from the Twin Falls Times:
Barring any surprise developments, a desert flower found in parts of southwest Idaho - including the Juniper Butte area of Owyhee County - will receive new federal protections in just less than 60 days. And as is often the case with troubled species in southern Idaho's rangelands, officials are debating the role livestock grazing should play in its protection.
ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh, gosh. Too funny! Livestock have been a leading cause of endangerment! Only in Idaho. Maybe they should begin exploring the role off-road vehicles can play in its protection too! Oh, oh, ROTFL!

Whew, well, after that spasm of hysteria, we think it sounds like the cowboys are trying to spin this (clearly unfavorable to their extractive interests) decision from the get-go.
The livestock industry and its supporters released their own take on the listing. State Rep. Steve Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, said in a statement that biologists at a rangeland tour this summer told him peppergrass does better in areas where grazing has disturbed the soil.
Right. Did those "biologists" work for the Bureau of Livestock Mismanagement by any chance? They're so objective.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Welfare moms: Alpha females?

Ha ha. George Wuerthner really cracks us up. Calling cows, "four-legged picnic baskets," and worrying that a beef diet will clog wolf arteries, this piece in today's New West is truly a gem.
While I appreciate the generosity of local ranchers in their efforts to maintain fat and healthy wolf packs, I cannot condone such practices. It leads, after all, to lazy wolves. Why would a wolf spend its energy trying to pull down a sleek, fast elk, when it can far more easily secure a nice slow, fat, cow?
He forgot to say, "stupid."
It’s just irresponsible and reprehensible for ranchers to be leaving their cattle all over the land so they are easily caught by wild predators. Keep in mind that what made America great is its work ethic. Welfare for Wolves is not the answer. It’s time to remove all these four -legged picnic baskets from the public lands and make wolves earn a real living. Just as in national parks if you leave a picnic basket out for a bear to grab, you will get a fine. We should be doing the same to ranchers who are promoting unnatural food addictions through their husbandry practices.
Yes, we completely agree. Consider, for example, the Middle Fork Pack of Mexican gray wolves. Beef jerky from sixteen carcasses strewn about in their home range this spring- is it any wonder that they started eating sirloin too? These are problem allotments, no problem wolves.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Jon Stewart nails it re: Delta smelt

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Where the Riled Things Are
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

(Relevant clip starts at 1:15)

Sure, he didn't mention that Delta smelt have the right to exist just because they do- but he's getting at the ecosystem effects of extinction in a way that surpasses most mainstream analysis.