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Browsing the archives for the Endangered Species Act category.

Alaska News: Trump administration eyes looser predator control limits on federal lands

Endangered Species Act, Federal gov & land grabs, President Trump and officials

PNP comment: Maybe there is also hope for us down in the lower 48! — Editor Liz Bowen

Alaska Dispatch News

Jul;y 22, 2017

Author:

The Trump administration has ordered a review of rules that have barred aggressive predator control on Alaska’s federal preserves and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

In reviewing the rules, new administration officials assert that the Obama administration had been accused of meddling in the state’s business when it came to methods to reduce predators and increase numbers of large game animals for hunters.

The review comes in light of “widespread criticism and concern from Alaskans about the previous administration’s micromanaging Alaska wildlife as well as extensive conversations with Department officials,” Interior Department press secretary Heather Swift wrote in an email Friday.

MORE

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2017/07/22/trump-administration-eyes-looser-predator-control-limits-on-federal-lands/

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

 

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Endangered Species Act: Weaponizing law to crush industry, property rights

Endangered Species Act

Free Ranch Report

June 26, 2017

Jonathon Wood

Investor’s Business Daily

Protect Workers, Property Owners From Endangered Species Act Abuses

President Trump campaigned on a promise to repeal 70% of federal regulations, eliminating red tape to promote job growth and economic development. Any regulatory reform effort should initially focus on the low-hanging fruit — those regulations which are needlessly costly and counterproductive. Based on that, regulatory abuses under the Endangered Species Act should be the first scrutinized.

The Endangered Species Act, thanks to its crippling “take” prohibition, has been incredibly disruptive to rural communities, including many of those that supported Trump. For decades, that statute has encouraged environmental special interests to push for ever more species to be listed, to shut down economic activity they dislike. And, although countless jobs have been lost as a result, the statute has reaped only mediocre benefits, including a less than 2% recovery rate for listed species.

The Endangered Species Act is a powerful weapon for environmental groups because it forbids the “take” of any listed species, which prohibits essentially any activity that adversely affects a single member of a species or its habitat. This prohibition deprives owners of private property of the rights that most of us take for granted in owning land.

Consider, for instance, the people of southwestern Utah who cannot build homes, start businesses or protect the airport and cemetery from a local rodent because the rodent in question, the Utah prairie dog, is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Representing those residents — who formed the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners — Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging the constitutionality of this regulation as exceeding the federal government’s power under the Commerce Clause.

In 2015, a federal court agreed that this constitutional power does not permit the federal government to forbid noneconomic activity affecting a species with no connection to interstate commerce. That decision is now on appeal to the 10th Circuit Court. As the case continues, the Trump administration will have to decide whether to defend this unconstitutional and burdensome regulation.

The incoming administration’s regulatory reform effort should also focus on empowering states to protect the environment in ways more sensitive to the adverse impacts on their residents.

The Utah prairie dog case provides a good blueprint. After the federal regulation was struck down as unconstitutional, the state stepped in and protected the species while accommodating property owners’ concerns, chiefly by moving prairie dogs from backyards, airports and cemeteries to public lands where they could be permanently protected.

The groundwork has already been laid for the Trump administration to reduce the Endangered Species Act’s unnecessary burdens. Last year, Pacific Legal Foundation, representing the National Federation of Independent Business and Washington Cattlemen’s Association, petitioned to repeal a federal regulation that illegally extends the statute’s broad take prohibition to “threatened” species — those facing the least threat.

The president’s appointees can immediately repeal the regulation, which would benefit both property owners and species. In addition to the myriad policy problems, the regulation is illegal. Congress consciously chose to limit this burdensome prohibition to those species facing the greatest threats.

As then Sen. John Tunney put it when advocating for the statute’s adoption, this “stringent prohibition” should “be absolutely enforced only for those species on the brink of extinction.”

Repealing this illegal regulation would also benefit property owners and the economy. Many of the most significant impacts of the Endangered Species Act have been a result of this regulation. For instance, when the northern spotted owl was listed as threatened, the regulation decimated the timber industry in the northeast. Many other rural communities have similar war stories.

Businesses and property owners are not the only ones who would benefit from repealing this regulation. Endangered and threatened species will also benefit. This regulation is counterproductive. By treating species the same, regardless of the seriousness of their threats, it undermines incentives for conservation. Repealing it would encourage conservation through the promise that successful efforts to recover endangered species would be rewarded with the lifting of burdensome regulations.

Although any effort to reduce overregulation will be met with howls from those special interests who benefit from it. By focusing the initial reform efforts on burdensome and counterproductive regulations like this, the Trump administration can blunt the inevitable criticism by claiming the environmental high ground. It should.

Endangered Species Act: Weaponizing law to crush industry, property rights

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

 

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How environmentalist litigation is sending our national forests up in smoke

Endangered Species Act, FIRES, Forestry & USFS, Lawsuits

PNP comment: Unfortunately, this has been happening for 30 years! — Editor Liz Bowen

Free Range Report

June 10, 2017

“Our national forests are dying from neglect. Rather than channeling dollars to active forest management to reduce the risk of wildfire, the Federal government must spend its funds defending sound management practices from this perpetual environmental litigation machine.” ~Rep. Tom McClintock

House Committee on Natural Resources Press Release

Policy Overview

♦The U.S. Forest Service is entrusted with managing 193 million acres1 of mostly forested areas in 43 states and Puerto Rico.

♦Currently, Fifty-eight million acres of national forest are at high or very high risk of severe wildfire3 due in large part to a lack of active management of the landscape.

♦When District Rangers, Forest Supervisors and their staffs attempt to advance forest thinning and other active management projects, their efforts can be significantly delayed or derailed due in large part to ever increasing environmental analysis requirements resulting in longer, more costly planning timelines and significantly increased regulatory complexity.

♦Ever-increasing analyses are a direct result of attempts by the Forest Service to make environmental analysis documents “bullet-proof” in an increasingly litigious landscape.

♦As reported in the Helena Independent Record, “the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Forest Management Act (NFMA) are most often cited as the basis for litigation.”

♦Vegetative management activities account for more than 40 percent of all lawsuits brought against the Forest Service.

♦According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis of data provided by the National Association of Environmental Professionals, the Forest Service produced 572 Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) between 2008 and 2012, nearly 25 percent of all draft and final EIS produced during that time period.

Panel Examines Negative Impacts of Excessive Litigation on Forest Health 

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 8, 2017 –

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing to examine how litigation and increasingly excessive environmental analysis facing the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has exacerbated the ongoing forest health crisis.

♦“We are bankrupting the future,” witness Lyle Laverty, Certified Forester and President of the Laverty Group, said. “America’s green infrastructure is on life support, perhaps even on the brink of ecological collapse.”

58 million acres of national forests are at high or very high risk of severe wildfire. Despite deteriorating forest health and the increasing potential for catastrophic wildfire, USFS employees spend more than 40 percent of their time conducting planning and analysis instead of managing our federal forests and rangelands.

♦“[O]ur national forests are dying from neglect,” Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said. “[R]ather than channeling dollars to active forest management to reduce the risk of wildfire, the Federal government must spend its funds defending sound management practices from this perpetual environmental litigation machine.”

Environmental laws originally intended to protect the environment, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, are now working against the USFS, significantly hindering active management.

♦”This has contributed to the decline of the very resources the laws are intended to protect,” Laverty stated. “Unnatural fuel accumulations lead to the uncharacteristic wildfires that can and will ultimately harm listed species and water quality.”

The panel outlined how excessive lawsuits and vague statutory authorities force the USFS to make environmental analysis documents “bullet-proof,” in fear of litigation.

In this litigation-prone climate, Laverty argued the federal focus “has been mostly prevention of harm from action. The potential for harm from inaction has largely been ignored.”

Another witness, Lawson Fite, General Counsel for the American Forest Resource Council, argued that a large percentage of lawsuits aren’t targeted as specific legal violations, but are instead used by self-proclaimed environmental groups to halt or prevent restoration activities.

♦“They force the agencies into years-long paperwork exercises that result in no project changes or conservation benefit,” Fite said.

♦“They have succeeded...  It might be making environmental attorneys rich, but it is  killing our forests,” McClintock added.

♦Fite, however, offered hope, describing forestry as “an area of bipartisan progress” noting: “There are a number of measures with support from Republicans and Democrats, environmentalists and industry, which can streamline environmental compliance while preserving a right of review and protecting resources such as watersheds and wildlife. The time for action is now.”

♦”Healthy forests are a win-win-win situation,” Rep. Westerman (R-AR) stated“We should all be able to work together to manage our forests in a healthy, sustainable manner for everyone’s benefit.”

http://freerangereport.com/index.php/2017/06/10/how-environmentalist-litigation-is-sending-our-national-forests-up-in-smoke/

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Agriculture has been hammered by environmental water regulations

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California water, Endangered Species Act

New report shows thousands of California jobs lost due to water cuts

KERO

A report released today by the Southern California Water Committee and the Committee for Delta Reliability exposes the unintended consequences of nearly two decades of water cuts caused by environmental regulation – showing the hardest hit are those who rely on agriculture to survive, such as farmworkers, food processors, truck drivers and warehouse workers, among many others.

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Judge dismisses lawsuit against grazing on eight Oregon allotments

Agriculture, cattle, Courts, Endangered Species Act, Lawsuits, Liberty

PNP comment: Finally, a judge that makes some sense from outrageous claims — the claims are just plain wrong! — Editor Liz Bowen

A federal judge has rejected arguments that cattle grazing hurts endangered sucker fish in violation of forest management law.

Capital Press

Mateusz Perkowski

Published on March 11, 2017 2:39PM

A federal judge has rejected environmentalist arguments that cattle grazing has unlawfully harmed endangered sucker fish in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke has thrown out a lawsuit by three environmental groups — Oregon Wild, Friends of Living Oregon Waters and the Western Watersheds Project — which claimed that grazing was unlawfully authorized on eight allotments in the Lost River watershed.

The plaintiffs accused the U.S. Forest Service of “ignoring widespread evidence of riparian problems” that adversely affected the Lost River sucker and shortnose sucker, which are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.

However, the judge has ruled that plaintiffs failed to prove that grazing degraded streams in violation of the National Forest Management Act.

Conditions have improved in many riparians areas despite continued grazing while recovery trends are “not significantly different” among sites that are grazed and those that are not, Clarke said.

“This would tend to indicate grazing is not the reason for any failure to attain (riparian management objectives) in streams found on the challenged allotments,” he said.

While the environmental groups have pointed to evidence of deterioration along portions of some creeks, they haven’t shown “watershed level” and “landscape-scale” failures to live up to fish-recovery objectives, Clarke said.

The “creek-specific observations” by environmental groups aren’t enough to “successfully rebut” the Forest Service’s interpretation of the data, he said.

“Finally, many of the creek assessments plaintiffs point to as evidence of a failure to attain (riparian management objectives) actually show improving or stable trends,” the judge said.

The Forest Service’s decision to authorize grazing on the eight allotments was based on “reasonably gathered and evaluated data” related to fish recovery strategies mandated under the National Forest Management Act, he said.

Clarke also dismissed the plaintiffs’ Endangered Species Act arguments, ruling they were moot because future grazing approvals will rely on a new consultation among federal agencies on the two fish species.

The environmental groups’ claims of National Environmental Policy Act violations were likewise dismissed because the plaintiffs hadn’t fully “exhausted” administrative challenges against grazing plans, the ruling said.

New information that’s emerged about threats to the fish and their critical habitat doesn’t rise to the level of requiring additional environmental analysis of grazing, Clarke said.

For example, although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reached the “alarming” conclusion that shortnose suckers face a “high degree of threat of extinction,” this finding doesn’t influence the Forest Service’s assessment of grazing, he said.

“While FWS concluded that significant threats to shortnose suckers’ viability remain and thus that their chance of extinction is high, it did not identify grazing as one of those threats; in fact, it made no mention of grazing at all,” the judge said.

http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20170311/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-against-grazing-on-eight-oregon-allotments

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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ESA fraud will continue

CORRUPTION, Endangered Species Act

PNP comment: Oh no! Species can be listed without real factual threats, just someone’s idea of a perceived threat? The fraudulent listings will, unfortunately, continue! — Editor Liz Bowen

Species may be listed as threatened based on climate change projections, court says

Los Angeles Times

Federal authorities may list a species as “threatened” based on climate models that show habitat loss in the coming decades, an appeals court decided Monday.

The state of Alaska, oil company groups and Alaskan natives had challenged a decision by the federal government to list a sea ice seal subspecies as threatened and deserving of protection.

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Who will go extinct first, salmon or Valley farmers?

Agriculture - California, Endangered Species Act, Hypocrisy, State gov, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

PNP comment: Enviros and government agencies NOT sharing the water is an issue throughout California. — Editor Liz Bowen

Who will go extinct first, salmon or Valley farmers?

Modesto Bee

Here, on the front lines of the state’s recently declared water war, we have more questions than ammunition. Is the State Water Resources Control Board serious? Is the water board even in charge? Was Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for “voluntary agreements,” instead of regulatory demands, a suggestion or an order? Who will go extinct first – salmon or farmers?

OK, that’s a rhetorical question; salmon have a huge head start. But the race isn’t over. To recap: Battle was enjoined Sept. 15 when the water board re-released its justification for taking more water from the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers – which combine to create the San Joaquin before it reaches the Delta.

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‘Massive’ ESA lawsuit threatened—again

Agriculture, Congress - Senate, CORRUPTION, Courts, Endangered Species Act, Greenies & grant $, Lawsuits

NEWS

Western Livestock Journal

AUG 26, 2016

By THEODORA JOHNSON, WLJ CORRESPONDENT

—History set to repeat itself; environmental group tries to force USFWS’ hand

Is it 2016 or 2011? Or perhaps just a bad case of déjà vu?

Last Tuesday saw the history of 2011 repeated as an environmental litigation group threatened to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to force Endangered Species Act (ESA) decisions on 417 species.

Five years ago saw an ESA “mega-settlement” which forced USFWS to crank out over 1,200 backlogged listing and critical habitat decisions. In return, the two environmental groups that brought the case—Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and WildEarth Guardians—were expected (although not required) to back off on further litigation and additional listing petitions.

But now, the CBD is threatening to sue again, hoping to force “12-month finding” decisions on this new group of species. In fact, CBD and other groups never did stop filing petitions or lawsuits. Since the 2011 settlement, CBD and others have petitioned roughly 140 species, and CBD and WildEarth Guardians alone have filed over 130 of them since 2013, according to CBD’s own website.

Legal details

The 12-month finding is one step in the ESA listing process. One year after a species is petitioned for listing, USFWS is required to determine whether listing is “not warranted;” “warranted,” which leads to 60 days of public comments, then a final listing decision; or “warranted but precluded,” which places the species on the “candidate” list.

According to CBD, those 12-month findings on the 417 species are anywhere from one to seven years late. The species’ locations span from Washington State to Florida. They include 235 invertebrates (mussels, snails, beetles, etc.), 87 plants, 58 amphibians and reptiles, 27 fish, six birds, and seven mammals.

“This is precisely why the [ESA] is broken,” said Ethan Lane of the Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) in the groups’ statement.

“Groups like [CBD] are attempting to force their agenda on [USFWS] through litigation abuse. Substantive ESA reform is needed now to allow [USFWS] the autonomy necessary to prioritize species conservation according to need, rather than political agenda.”

Litigation: exception or rule?

CBD cites a recent study that found that “lawsuits from conservation groups … have played a key role in speeding protection for imperiled species.” The study was co-authored by CBD’s own Endangered Species Director, Noah Greenwald, and published last month in the academic journal, Biological Conservation.

Under the ESA, anyone can petition to list a species as threatened or endangered. From that point on, USFWS faces multiple deadlines and must issue multiple decisions. Wyoming attorney Karen Budd-Falen, who testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on April 20, said the listing process for just one species provides environmental groups with eight different opportunities to sue USFWS. And, she added, the ESA allows litigants to reap attorney fees. She told WLJ that she has seen groups charge $775 per hour for attorney fees. ESA litigation, she said, is a “business decision” on the part of environmental groups, and said it’s having the effect of “shutting down the [USFWS] from implementing the entirety of the ESA.”

Budd-Falen said USFWS is so swamped with petitions and the ensuing lawsuits that species recovery has become an afterthought. As of April, only 63 of the total 2,258 listed species had been delisted. Many of those delisted were not actually recovered; 19 of them were removed because of an error in the original data, and 10 of them, she said, had gone extinct.

Budd-Falen said USFWS is trending away from creating species recovery plans, which are usually a prerequisite to delisting a species.

In the 1990s, 843 species had recovery plans. From 2010 to today, only 177 species have been included in recovery plans.

The ESA requires USFWS to develop recovery plans and measurable objectives that would trigger a species’ delisting. However, the law doesn’t put a time frame on recovery plans and objectives. The lack of an enforceable time frame, Budd-Falen said, adds to USFWS’ propensity of putting recovery plans on the back burner.

Litigation versus science

Budd-Falen stated that one effect of all the litigation has been a shift away from science-based decision making and recovery plan development. Instead, USFWS has turned its focus to meeting court-ordered deadlines.

One of USFWS’ documents says as much: A memorandum from May 20, 2014 states, “Our primary (and perhaps only) focus will be on meeting court-ordered and settlement deadlines for findings…we do not plan to carry out… non-[2011 settlement] findings and proposed rules, or recovery plan revisions.”

The imposition of litigation deadlines has been felt on the ground in various ways, according to Budd-Falen. For example, according to the USFWS, the 2011 settlement prevented it from delaying its listing decision on the lesser-prairie chicken, rather than give the locally-driven and USFWS-approved range-wide conservation plan a chance to work (the decision has since been overturned nationwide by court order).

Similarly, the agency did not have enough time to update the Mexican wolf recovery plan in light of litigation-imposed deadlines.

“In other cases, USFWS has denied requests for extensions of time to comment on [experimental population rules] or has stated that certain activities have not been done because of the requirement imposed by litigation deadlines,” Budd- Falen testified.

Solutions?

In May of 2015, the Obama administration proposed new regulations to slow down listing petitions by requiring more scientific documentation and consultation with state wildlife agencies. However, Budd-Falen told WLJ that USFWS backed off on their proposal after receiving pushback from environmental groups. The revised proposal, she said, makes very little changes to the current procedures.

“Congress needs to fix [the ESA] so that there’s either an annual limit on petitions, or added flexibility on time frames,” she told WLJ.

Budd-Falen reported she has testified at least seven times on ESA problems over the years, but that so far Congress hasn’t enacted any reforms to the 1972 act. Several worthy bills have been introduced in recent years though, she said. They would have required more scientific rigor in ESA decisions; public posting of scientific documentation; capping of attorney fees; and specific involvement of state, local and tribal governments for species on their land.

“Congress has got to take away the cause of action— the courts can’t do it,” Budd- Falen said. “Congress has got to get its collective act together.” — Theodora Johnson, WLJ Correspondent

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Fish disease prompts river flushing

Air, Climate & Weather, California water, Endangered Species Act, Federal gov & land grabs, Hypocrisy, Klamath River & Dams, Salmon and fish, Trinity County, Water, Resources & Quality

PNP comment: While it is commendable to want to help inland resident trout, low summer flows are the typical type of summer environment they live in — and do survive. Anyone claiming there is a need to artificially pulse the rivers — in hot August and September — are buying into the lie that it helps salmon.

It actually targets and stimulates the salmon that are happily playing in the ocean to start swimming inland, when there is not sufficient water flows for them. (Pulsing artificially suggests that the autumn rains have arrived  — of which they have not!)

So the salmon will begin swimming up river, when the trouts’ disease and the back-to-normal low water flows will greatly endanger the lives of the salmon. What a bunch of disgusting bunk and fraudulent science pulsing truly is. Why would anyone want to bring the salmon up river before the real autumn rains naturally raise the water flows? — Editor Liz Bowen

 

By Damon Arthur of the Redding Record Searchlight

Posted: Yesterday 6:58 p.m.

To prevent an outbreak of a deadly fish-killing disease, federal officials plan to begin tripling the amount of water flowing out of Lewiston Dam and into the Trinity River.

Starting Thursday, the amount of water coming out of Lewiston Dam will increase from 450 cubic-feet per second to about 1,300 cfs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam.

The Trinity River flows into the Klamath River and the higher flows in the Trinity are meant to aid salmon and trout in the Klamath.

Federal officials and others are worried about an outbreak of a disease called ich, which spreads among fish crowded into slow-moving pools of warm water in the river. The higher flows from the Trinity are supposed to flush out the lower Klamath with cooler water and reduce crowding among the fish.

A small number of fish have become infected in “extremely warm water” in the Klamath, said Michael Belchik, a senior fisheries biologist for the Yurok Tribe, which is based on the Klamath River.

An ich outbreak in 2002 killed some 35,000 salmon and steelhead trout in the river.

“We take this threat to our fish very seriously, and we’re looking at every option to protect our fish,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke, Yurok Tribe chairman. “We don’t want to go through another catastrophe like the fish kill in 2002, and we will do anything we can to avoid that outcome this year.”

The Klamath Fish Health Assessment Team, which monitors fish fitness in the river, rated danger in the stream on Wednesday at “yellow” because of unfavorable physical and chemical conditions in the stream.

There are four “levels of readiness,” for the river, starting at green, the lowest level and best conditions for fish. Levels increase to yellow, orange and red, which means a fish kill is imminent or underway, according to the team’s website.

During the past several years of warm summer weather and drought, the higher releases from Lewiston Dam have been an annual event in August and September.

This year’s higher flows, which could go as high as 3,500 cfs, are expected to last until late September.

David Coxey, general manager of the Bella Vista Water District in Redding, said sending more water down the Trinity River means there will be less water for cities and agriculture in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.

Nearly all the municipal water districts in the Redding area get water through the bureau.

“It’s disheartening how our supply reliability continues to erode,” Coxey said.

There is also less hydropower generated when more water is sent down the Trinity River, Coxey said.

Water is shipped via large pipes from Lewiston Lake to Whiskeytown Lake, where it is used to also generate power at the Carr Powerhouse. The water is then shipped by pipe again from Whiskeytown to Keswick Reservoir, where power is generated again at the Spring Creek Powerhouse.

Higher flows into the Trinity and Klamath rivers also ultimately mean less water flowing into the Sacramento River to aid endangered winter-run chinook salmon that spawn in the river in Redding, Coxey said.

“This is a discouraging decision that further hurts the salmon over here,” he said.

# # #

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Judge refuses to overturn Oregon grazing plans

Agriculture, cattle, Courts, Endangered Species Act, Greenies & grant $, Lawsuits

PNP comment: Wow, what a concept! The fish doesn’t even live in the area, so how can cattle harm the fish if it isn’t there? Now this is a sensible judge! — Editor Liz Bowen

Mateusz Perkowski

Capital Press

Published on June 22, 2016 10:59AM

Ranchers, environmentalists and federal agencies recently engaged in oral arguments at the James A. Redden U.S. Courthouse in Medford, Ore., as part of a lawsuit over grazing’s effects on bull trout habitat in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest.

A federal judge has rejected environmentalists’ arguments that grazing along Oregon’s Sprague and Sycan rivers unlawfully harms bull trout habitat where the fish doesn’t live.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke has held that grazing plans for 10 federal land allotments comply with the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws.

Several ranching families, who had intervened in the case to defend the grazing plans, are relieved by the judge’s ruling, said Scott Horngren, an attorney with the Western Resources Legal Center, who represented them.

“An adverse decision would have been very disruptive and harmful to their grazing plans this year,” Horngren said.

If the judge had found the grazing plans were unlawfully approved, the environmental plaintiffs likely would have sought to curtail grazing at a time when the ranchers are preparing to release cattle onto public land, he said.

Horngren noted that ranchers already face restrictions on grazing duration and grass stubble height, among other factors.

“This isn’t uncontrolled grazing,” he said.

Last year, Oregon Wild, Friends of Living Oregon Waters and the Western Watersheds Project filed a complaint against the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approving the grazing plans in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

The plaintiffs argued that bull trout, a federally protected threatened species, wasn’t occupying its “critical habitat” in the area due to degradation caused by grazing.

Clarke said the environmental groups raised “legitimate concerns” about the future of bull trout populations due to higher water temperatures and sediment in streams.

However, he said the federal agencies adequately studied whether grazing would adversely affect the fish’s critical habitat.

“While plaintiffs disagree with the Forest Service’s conclusion that grazing can continue despite these concerns, they have not demonstrated that the agency disregarded or irrationally analyzed them,” the judge said.

Capital Press was unable to reach an attorney for the environmental groups as of press time.

Aside from the Endangered Species Act allegations, Clarke also rejected the environmentalists’ claims that grazing was authorized in violation of the Clean Water Act.

The “best management practices,” or BMPs, for protecting water quality in the national forest were approved by Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality, which administers the Clean Water Act, he said.

“Though plaintiffs speculate that the Forest Service has not fully implemented its BMPs, there is no evidence that the agency has failed to undertake any specific commitment or otherwise acted in bad faith,” Clarke said.

Clarke ruled that environmental groups “have not connected” water quality problems with the grazing plans.

“As such, the court cannot conclude that authorized grazing is to blame,” he said.

http://www.capitalpress.com/20160622/judge-refuses-to-overturn-oregon-grazing-plans

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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