U.S. creates pollinator conservation center
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will establish a Pollinator Conservation Center focusing on the decline of pollinating species, including the monarch butterfly, announced Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Thursday.
Neonicotinoid insecticides have broad reach, says EPA
Three widely used neonicotinoids are likely to adversely affect, in at least some way, most of the threatened and endangered species in the country, said the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday.
Experts urge overhaul of California’s ‘antiquated’ water laws
As California enters its third year of drought, pressure is mounting for lawmakers to update the state’s antiquated water laws. On Thursday, a coalition of legal experts and retired state officials released a report with a list of suggested reforms, which they say would make California’s water politics more equitable and sustainable as climate change gets worse. If implemented — a major if — many of the reforms would provide a check on the state’s massive agricultural industry, which sucks up some 80 percent of all the water used in California.
‘Lord God Bird’ among 23 species declared extinct
The ivory-billed woodpecker, America's largest woodpecker, with a 31-inch wingspan, is extinct, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ending years of lingering hopes that the "Lord God Bird" had survived deep in southern bottomland forests. The ivory-bill was one of 23 species declared extinct on Wednesday, 11 of them birds.
Administration promises stronger protections for imperiled species
The Interior and Commerce departments said they will rescind or revise five Trump-era regulations that reduced federal protections for endangered and threatened species. The replacement rules would give the same protection to threatened species as endangered ones, and would instruct the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Services to disregard economic impacts when deciding whether a species should go on the endangered list.
Trump orders more San Joaquin Valley water into farms, California cities
During a visit Wednesday to California's Central Valley, President Trump announced the completion of a regulatory review that will send more water from the San Joaquin Valley to farms and cities in the southern half of California. Environmentalists say the new allocation of water poses a risk to endangered fish and other native species.
Court: EPA must consider environmental impact when setting ethanol mandate
The U.S. appeals court in Washington unanimously ordered the EPA to reconsider its Renewable Fuel Standard for 2018 because it failed to account for the potential impact of full-throttle corn production on endangered species and habitat. Even though the decision was directed at agency deliberations that took place in 2017, the Sierra Club, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the EPA will have to take the ruling into account in writing the RFS for 2020.
Interior agency will ‘maximize water deliveries’ to Southern California
State officials are expected to fight the Trump administration’s proposal to “maximize water deliveries” through the Central Valley Project to Southern California, including farmers in the Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural water district in the nation, says the Sacramento Bee.
Utah Representative sets his sights on Endangered Species Act
Rep. Rob Bishop, a fierce opponent of the Endangered Species Act, recently steered five bills meant to ultimately dismantle the law through the House Natural Resources Committee, which he chairs, says The Washington Post.
Illegal pot farms wreak havoc on national forests
Mexican drug cartels, operating illegal marijuana farms on public lands, are polluting forests and saddling the federal government with millions of dollars in clean-up costs. Trespass marijuana farms are thought to number in the hundreds of thousands in California alone. The sites “wreak havoc on the land, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of pounds of garbage, leaching caustic chemicals, polluting watersheds, and damaging the habitat of endangered and at-risk species,” reports High Country News.
New bills seek to undermine Endangered Species Act
Six Republican bills could change the face of the Endangered Species Act, says High Country News. For example, the Federally Integrated Species Health Act, introduced by California Republican Rep. Ken Calvert, would turn management of endangered salmon species entirely over to the Fish & Wildlife Service. As of now, the National Marine Fisheries Service co-manages endangered salmon with FWS.
Coho salmon die in ‘witch’s brew’ of stormwater runoff
Coho salmon face fatal levels of pollution in 40 percent of their range in the Puget Sound Basin, chiefly because of stormwater runoff, says a study published in the journal Ecological Applications.
Ecology program has prisoners planting sagebrush
Under a program funded by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), prisoners in six states are planting sagebrush, a plant native to Western grasslands that has been depleted by development and by ranchers' preference for other grasses that make better forage for livestock. Sagebrush provides valuable habitat for big-game and birds, while providing enough shade to keep moisture in the soil.
New study says biodiversity is crucial to ecosystem health
A new analysis of data from a number of sources, by researchers at Smithsonian and the University of Michigan, found that biodiversity plays an even greater role in ecosystem resilience and overall health than previously thought—more important than even temperature and nutrients. The analysis was published in the journal Nature.
Western monarch butterflies on verge of extinction, says study
Monarch butterflies west of the Rocky Mountains are facing extinction, as the number wintering in California has plummeted by more than 90 percent since 1980, says a study published by the journal Biological Conservation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is debating whether to grant endangered species status to the insect.
Groups pledge to do more to save Pacific bluefin tuna
As Pacific bluefin tuna stocks dwindle to 2.6 percent of their historic population, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission have promised to increase the fish’s population sevenfold.
Farmer group wants Interior to convene ‘God Squad’ over salmon
A group representing farmers in Washington State and Oregon is urging the Interior Department to convene the “God squad” — an interagency committee empowered to override the Endangered Species Act — over complaints that the act's protections on salmon are hurting growers and others.
Anti-terrorism law would let Trump build border wall through wildlife refuge
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol says it could use a 2005 anti-terrorism law — the Real ID Act — to all President Trump’s border wall to be built through a national wildlife refuge in Texas, without having to conduct an environmental impact studies. The studies are usually mandated for any new construction on federal lands under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Australia proposes more fishing in its marine sanctuaries
More than one-third of Australian waters are are protected by law, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is asking Parliament to allow fishing in 80 percent of those waters, up from the current 64 percent, reports the New York Times. If approved, "it will be the first time a nation has scaled back its regulations in protected maritime areas."