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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

The Key Largo Woodrat's Wild Ride

04/22/2011

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Upon spotting a Key Largo woodrat, even an educated local from the Conch Republic might shrug, thinking of prolifically-reproducing mice and rats.  Woodrats, however, are a wholly different genus, facing the threat of extinction.  Yet mice and woodrats are connected, too, because The Mouse is trying to save the endangered woodrat.

The quiet conservation efforts of Walt Disney World scientists have made substantial and award-winning progress. Fueled primarily by corporate goodwill traced back to Walt Disney's vision, Mickey's friends are reintroducing his not-so-charismatic cousin to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuge in the Florida Keys. Last year, the effort bore fruit – or rather, woodrats – when a captive bred female woodrat, fondly named "Tweak," successfully gave birth to a pup after almost 60 days in the wild.

"Not only do the animals raised at Disney's Animal Kingdom have the skills to survive in the wild, they are breeding and producing offspring." says Dr. Anne Savage, Disney's Senior Conservation Biologist. "Tweak was the first captive born female to give birth in the wild.  It was an important event in the history of the Key Largo woodrat recovery program." 

Success, however, was not immediate.  Instead, as is often the case with great accomplishments, failure came first.  After months of captive breeding in a backstage holding facility, scientists plucked twelve rats from their enclosures and moved them to Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  Obstacles abounded. 


KeyLargoWoodratTree.jpg
Photo of a perched Key Largo Woodrat, by Clay DeGayner, available online at FavorFloridaKeys.com


In the dry coastal hammocks of Key Largo, the woodrat survives without any freshwater at all.  Water comes from its diet: from the wild coffee that spots the understory, or from the fruits of the distinctively-spotted trunks of the mastic tree.  The gumbo limbo tree, sometimes called the "tourist tree" by Floridians due to its peeling reddish bark, dominates the canopy.

Trash mounds, however, mar that natural beauty.  Along one dirt trail is the rusted metal frame and rotted upholstery of an old automobile.  Along another dirt road is the 20 foot tall debris mound of the old "Ready Room" and Nike missile site used during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Dozens of mounds of concrete can be found in scattered locations, now overgrown by 30 years of vegetation.  The current state of the area makes it hard to imagine how the lands could ever have been planned to become Port Bougainville, a development project that would have included 15 hotels and over 2000 condos.  But the old adage applies: one person's trash is another person's treasure.  And for the Key Largo woodrats, trash is treasure.  Every fallen tree and every pile of concrete and coral is an opportunity.  Every clump of gathered twigs is a sign. 


"I know nothing about anything, and barely graduated kindergarten," laughs Ralph DeGayner, a gray-stubble wearing Michigan retiree and Florida snowbird, "but I do know something about woodrats."  He and his clean shaven brother Clay DeGayner each donate over 1000 hours annually as volunteers to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  They even think like woodrats.

"They look for a roof," says Ralph, pointing to a mound of trash he declared to be a "natural" nest. Natural, that is, when compared with one he built for the reintroduced species.  "They need a flat rock above their sheltered nest." 

"They need multiple access and escape routes too," adds Clay.  "And the giveaway is the stickpile."  The challenge for the woodrats is to find the sticks without getting eaten.


KeyLargoWoodratDegaynersCatTracks.htm
Clay DeGayner (left), and his brother Ralph DeGayner (right), have volunteered thousands of hours to benefit the Key Largo woodrat. Among their contributions is this simple tool for tracking the presence of feral cats by finding the predator's footprints in the sand.  Photo by Keith Rizzardi.


For regional land managers, the Key largo woodrat presents yet another variable in an already complex system.  As a species listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act, the woodrat creates significant regulatory headaches.  Land management decisions that might be simple elsewhere, like a trash removal plan, or a coastal spoil mound relocation, trigger a requirement to consult with federal scientists.  Through that "consultation" process, biologists try to determine whether the proposed action will jeopardize the continued existence of the entire species or adversely modify the woodrat’s critical habitat.  With wood rat populations estimated at 300 or so in 2007, and as low as 134 in 2010, the risk of species extinction is real.

Sadly, the tiny native woodrat captures none of the public attention given to other wildlife in the Everglades and Florida Keys.  The underfunded National Wildlife Refuge where it lives is closed to the public.  Worse yet, “restricted access” signs do not stop the predators.  Woodrats frequently become prey for the much-beloved feral cats in the area, necessitating difficult conversations with the wealthy neighbors who live in the nearby Ocean Reef Club.  In fact, federal wildlife managers continue to seek public input on plans to trap feral cats in the region.  But until such a plan is fully implemented, the bowls of water left outside by well-meaning (but ill-informed) people will save the lives of feral cats but serve as death sentences for the cats' unlucky prey. 

Then again, death – or more precisely, extinction – was exactly what “Python Pete” wanted when he sent an untraced e-mail to federal officials, declaring his plan to introduce exotic Burmese pythons to the Everglades.  According to locals, even though state and federal refuge lands were acquired through eminent domain more than 30 years ago, hard feelings still exist decades later, leading the devious Pete to adopt his plan for woodrat destruction.  Regardless of whether the story of Python Pete is legend or not, the invasive pythons (and local raccoons) present a real threat, and woodrats are routinely found in the stomachs of autopsied predators. 

Poor Ralph.  Named after his volunteering friend, Ralph the woodrat got eaten first.  In fact, the entire first group of reintroductions quickly suffered Ralph’s fate.  Twelve rats were released, and within two weeks, all twelve disappeared -- exactly as conservationists expected.  Darren Wostenberg, a contractor from Genesis Laboratory, was one of the prognosticators.  He wandered the woods for weeks, with a satellite device strapped to his back and an old-fashioned antenna in his hands.  Recording beeps amidst the static, he was present at the beginning when the rats were released, he tracked where they went, and he discovered where they met their ends.

"You don't put your best stock out the first time around," explained Wostenberg.  Savage agreed, chiming in.  "This is a scientific process,” she added.  “You learn what works, and what doesn't, and then put out the more virile animals.”


KeyLargoWoodratWostenberg.JPG
Photo of Darren Wostenberg searching for radio telemetry signals from a pile of rocks that sheltered "Remy" and other reintroduced Key Largo woodrats.  Photo by Keith Rizzardi.


Aided by the knowledge gained by the first group of woodrats, the Disney biologists brought out the A-team.  "A" as in Aggressive.  Theory and anecdotal evidence suggested that the more the woodrats bit and lunged in their cages, the more likely it seemed that the animal possessed the independence and dominance needed to survive in the the wild.  Still, conservation science ruled the selection process, and conservation geneticists from the U.S. Geological Service ultimately decided on which woodrats to reintroduce to their native habitat.

The journey for these woodrats begins in the backlots of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where a simply constructed gated compound provides the breeding grounds and enclosures for the reintroduced animals.  In interconnected cages, complete with wheels and tubes like a pet hamster’s “Habitrail” system, these woodrats sleep, forage and exercise.  Nearby, Disney biologists grow native foods to feed the woodrats, simulating their natural diet and preparing them for their upcoming journey.

Creative low-tech thinking makes that journey less traumatic.  Rather than moving just the woodrat, Disney biologists move its home.  The nest boxes at Animal Kingdom are placed into a transport box, and loaded into a truck for the trip to Key Largo.  Upon arrival, the woodrat's transported nest fits into a larger nest structure, built from sticks, rocks and debris by volunteers (including the DeGayners) and surrounded by wire mesh.  After an acclimation period, the conservation biologists remove the gates, mesh and protective barriers, and the woodrats, fitted with radio telemetry collars, can explore their new, and much larger, environment. 

Aided by the work of such dedicated conservation scientists and volunteers, the future looks brighter for the Key Largo woodrat.  In 2010, two feisty females named Tweak and Patty found mates and successfully bred after being reintroduced.  Remy, a clever male named after the character in the Pixar film, Ratatouille, showed resilence.  He moved from nest to nest, and even escaped a cat, as indicated by an open wound on his back foot, a broken toe, and numerous lacerations discovered by field biologists who trapped him.  Remy found a girlfriend, too. 


Months later, Remy lost his collar.  No one knows what happened to him.  Perhaps he suffered Ralph’s fate, or perhaps not.  But either way, Remy the woodrat, and his friend Mickey Mouse, are giving an entire species new hopes and dreams.

BY KEITH W. RIZZARDI

Celebrating Earth Day, April 22, 2011


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Photo of Anne Savage, Ph.D.,  Senior Conservation Biologist, Disney's Animal Programs, next to a protected nest structure awaiting its new resident.


For more information, read Anne Savage's blog entry about the Key Largo woodrat (with a great photo, too).  And also visit THE RAT RACE: Protecting the Key Largo Woodrat By Christina Alligood, PhD, Anne Savage, PhD, and Andre Daneault available online.  For reproduction rights, please contact esablawg@gmail.com

Wolves, alligators, and crimes against critters.

04/18/2011

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The Congressional delisting of the wolf, through a budgetary rider, provoked the expected controversy.  See Boston Herald and MongaBay.  Then again, as some readers have pointed out, but for the problems with wolf management in Wyoming, FWS would have delisted the species anyway.  Indeed, similar efforts to delist recovering wolf populations are underway in  the Great Lakes.  See AP.  And those delistings will be controversial, too.  See WDIO

In response to the controversy, some people will ask "why?"  The answer is that humans, animals and our ecosystems are all interconnected.  Indeed, according to Dr. Louis J. Guillette Jr., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical University of South Carolina, alligators (and endangered crocodiles) have a lot more in common with humans than you might think, and the ways their bodily systems develop - or deform -- before hatching are a lot like the ways human babies grow in their mothers' uteruses.  See The Freshwater Society.  In fact, tiny, tiny doses of chemicals that can cause alligators to die before they hatch or to hatch with significant birth defects can have similar impacts on humans.  See also, ABC news.

Yet some people never learn.  A Louisiana father and son recently plead guilty to guiding illegal hunts for protected alligators.  See 7th Space.  A California man plead guilty in federal court in San Francisco to a charge of selling a stuffed American bald eagle. See SF appeal.   And Cole Brothers circus was recently fined for illegal sale of elephants.  See WWAY-TV.

AmericanCrocodileEverglades.jpg
Photo of an American crocodile at Everglades National Park available online at wikipedia.  Crocodiles were once found from Lake Worth to the waters in and around the Florida Bay. Most now nest in the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo, in the Everglades and on the berms of the cooling canals of the FPL Turkey Point Plant. Crocodiles prefer the quiet waters of coastal mangrove swamps where they are protected from onshore winds.  See also, FPL

More rough waters ahead: NOAA may list chinook salmon and announces critical habitat for Cook Inlet beluga whale

04/15/2011

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76 Fed. Reg. 20302 (Tuesday, April 12, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Parts 223 and 224
Listing Endangered and Threatened Species; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List Chinook Salmon
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding; request for information.
SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce a 90- day finding for a petition to list the Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Upper Klamath and Trinity Rivers Basin as threatened or endangered and designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We find that the petition presents substantial scientific information indicating the petitioned actions may be warranted. We will conduct a status review of the Chinook salmon in the Upper Klamath and Trinity Rivers Basin to determine if the petitioned actions are warranted. To ensure that the review is comprehensive, we solicit information pertaining to this species and its habitat from all interested parties. DATES: Information related to this petition finding must be received by June 13, 2011.

ChinookSalmonDFG.jpg
Photo of huge chinook salmon after spawning on Battle Creek in fall 2008 by the California DFG, available online from indybay.org  According to the Center for Biological Diversity and other petitioners seeking to list the species, spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon populations in the Upper Klamath and Trinity Rivers Basin are experiencing significant decline, and additionally are increasingly dominated by hatchery fall-run Chinook salmon.  According to the petition, a history of dams, mining, water diversions, habitat degradation, disease, and fisheries, among other factors, have played a key role in the decline of the populations.

KEITHINKING: This one may be a big deal.  Management of western watersheds is already complex enough; we may soon add yet another factor.  See Redding.com.  Make it controversial, too, because some chinook populations are increasing, others are decreasing, and hatcheries are having significant effects on the genetic composition of the populations.  See indybay.org and The Oakland Tribune.  And, just for good measure, add some irony... another species is at least a partial cause of the salmon decline, because sea lions are eating thousands of fish immediately downstream of the Bonneville Dam. See High Country News.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 20180 (Monday, April 11, 2011) / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Part 226
Endangered and Threatened Species: Designation of Critical Habitat for Cook Inlet Beluga Whale
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), designate critical habitat for the Cook Inlet beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) distinct population segment (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Two areas are designated, comprising 7,800 square kilometers (3,013 square miles) of marine habitat. In developing this final rule we considered public and peer review comments, as well as economic impacts and impacts to national security. We have decided in the final rule to exclude the Port of Anchorage (POA) in consideration of national security interest. Additionally, consistent with the proposed rule, portions of military lands were determined to be ineligible for designation as critical habitat. We solicited comments from the public on all aspects of the proposed rule, and conducted four public hearings on the action. Along with the proposed rule, we published a draft economic impacts analysis, entitled ‘‘Draft RIR/4(b)(2) Preparatory Assessment/IFRA for the Critical Habitat Designation of Cook Inlet Beluga Whale.’’ This economic analysis has been completed to support the final designation. See ‘‘Final RIR/ 4(b)(2) Preparatory Assessment/FRFA for the Critical Habitat Designation of Cook Inlet Beluga Whale’’ for a discussion of these topics.
DATES: This rule will become effective on May 11, 2011.

KEITHINKING: This one will be controversial, too.  Alaska Governor Sean Parnell responded to the NOAA decision saying that “Today’s announcement is another example of the federal government unnecessarily locking up Alaska land from development." See TheGovMonitor.com  But, as usual, opinions are divided. See The Homer News and The Kenai Peninsula.

FWS may list prairie chub, springsnails in Arizona, and Spring Mountains Acastus Checkerspot Butterfly, but listing of Hermes Copper butterfly precluded; also announces extended comment period on dunes sagebrush lizard

04/15/2011

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76 Fed. Reg. 20911 (Thursday, April 14, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Prairie Chub as Threatened or Endangered
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of petition finding and initiation of status review.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the prairie chub (Macrhybopsis australis) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and to designate critical habitat. The prairie chub is a fish endemic to the upper Red River basin in Oklahoma and Texas. Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the prairie chub may be warranted. Therefore, with the ublication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of the species to determine if listing the prairie chub is warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this species. Based on the status review,
we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in the Act. DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request that we receive information on or before June 13, 2011.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 20464 (Tuesday, April 12, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Endangered Status for the Three Forks Springsnail and San Bernardino Springsnail, and Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to list the Three Forks springsnail (Pyrgulopsis trivialis) and the San Bernardino springsnail (Pyrgulopsis bernardina) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). If we finalize this rule as proposed, it would extend the Act’s protections to these species. We also propose to designate critical habitat for both species under the Act. In total, approximately 4.5 hectares (11.1 acres) are being proposed for designation as critical habitat for Three Forks springnail in Apache County, and approximately 0.815 hectares (2.013 acres) for San Bernardino springsnail in Cochise County, Arizona. We seek information and comments from the public regarding the Three Forks and San Bernardino springsnails and this proposed rule.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 20613 (Wednesday, April 13, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List Spring Mountains Acastus Checkerspot Butterfly as Endangered
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the Spring Mountains acastus checkerspot butterfly Chlosyne acastus robusta) as endangered under the endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). ased on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the Spring Mountains acastus checkerspot butterfly as endangered or threatened may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of the species to determine if listing the Spring Mountains acastus checkerspot butterfly as endangered or threatened is warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this subspecies. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.
DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request that we receive information on or before June 13, 2011.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 20918 (Thursday, April 14, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List Hermes Copper Butterfly as Endangered or Threatened
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list Hermes copper butterfly (Hermelycaena ycaenahermes) as endangered and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing Hermes copper butterfly as endangered or threatened is warranted. Currently, however, listing Hermes copper butterfly is precluded by higher priority actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Upon publication of this 12-month  petition finding, we will add Hermes copper butterfly to our candidate species list. We will develop a proposed rule to list Hermes copper butterfly as our priorities allow. We will make any determination on critical habitat during development of the proposed listing rule. During any interim period, we will address the status of the candidate taxon through our annual Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR).
DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on April 14, 2011.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 19304 (April 7, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for Dunes Sagebrush Lizard
ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period and announcement of public hearings.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the reopening of the public comment period on the December 14, 2010, proposed rule to list the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties another opportunity to comment on the proposed rule. Comments previously submitted need not be resubmitted and will be fully considered in preparation of the final rule. We will also hold two public informational sessions and hearings (see DATES and ADDRESSES sections). DATES: We will consider comments received on or before May 9, 2011.


Blame environmentalists, or blame Congress: either way, the wolf is delisted.

04/15/2011

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The law is intolerant of politics, and politics is intolerant of the law.  When environmental advocates brought down yet another effort by state and federal governments to find a workable compromise to ESA implementation,  ESA blawg echoed the courts and warned that only a settlement would work. Some environmental groups, to their abundant credit, tried to forge a creative path with the Obama administration, but the Court rejected the settlement.  See ENS and New York Times.  So, right now, raw and intolerant politics is winning, wheras tolerance, the Endangered Species Act -- and maybe the wolf -- are all losing.

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Photo by Wyoming Fish & Game Department from University of Wyoming.

Buried in the battle over our absurd budgetary mess (uh, has anyone ever thought about both increasing revenues AND decreasing expenditures?) was a little line that delisted the wolf as an endangered species.  Perhaps, as angry environmentalists insist, Congress has indeed overreached, and removed the science from the Endangered Species Act.  See Sierra Club and Washington Examiner. But it is also true that wolf populations have increased and that aggressive litigious environmentalists overreached, forcing bi-partisan Congressional delegations to act. See Montana's The Daily Inter Lake.

As a result of this budget proviso, expected to be signed by President Obama today, Montana and Idaho will resume state management of wolves, with public wolf hunting seasons, allowing people to shoot wolves that threaten livestock or pets.  See The Missoulian.  The delisting does not include Wyoming, whose wolf management efforts were previously deemed insufficient by the federal government.  See Billings Gazette.

Sadly, by effectively repealing the ESA as applied to canis lupus, Congress has opened the door to a whole new world.  See New York Times.  Whenever ESA implementation gets tough, whenever compromise is hard to forge, whenever science presents challenges, the easy option is Endangered Species Act repeal.

We've learned this lesson before.  When conflicts over snail darters and the Tellico Dam could not find compromises, Congress created new ESA exemptions.  Two decades later, the Clinton administration adeptly used the Habitat Conservation Planning process (to the dismay of some environmentalists).  See, e.g  Souza and Klyza, New Directions in Environmental Policy Making (2007).  We need to learn the lessons again.

Environmental policy, like democracy itself, necessitates compromise.  Compromise requires labor and intellect.  By comparison, an exemption buried in a budget is the lazy way out.  Sure, it solves the immediate problem.  But the extinction of endangered species, one Congressional act at a time, cannot be our long term solution.

Standing yes, merits no. Wildearth Guardians loses dispute over petition to list Columbian Sharp-tailed grouse

04/07/2011

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WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, No. 4:08–cv–00508–EJL–LMB, 2011 WL 1225558 (D. Idaho, Feb. 11, 2011)
Report and Recommendation of Larry M. Boyle, United States Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION.  This action is a challenge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (“FWS”) 90–day finding concerning the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus ). 90 Day Finding on a Petition to List the Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse as Threatened or Endangered, 71 Fed.Reg. 67,318 (Nov. 21, 2006) (“Finding”). The Finding by FWS denied designation of the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse for protection as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq. Plaintiffs appealed the Finding arguing that the Secretary failed to adequately account for the bird's loss of historic range. The Secretary counters that Plaintiffs lack standing to sue, and that regardless, he fulfilled his obligations under the ESA and the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”).

ColumbianSharptailedGrouse.jpg
Human activities have extirpated the Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse (CTSG)  from the majority, over 90 percent, of its historic range. Approximately 95 percent of the current CSTG population exist in one of three unconnected meta-populations located in central British Columbia, southeastern Idaho/northern Utah, and northwestern Colorado/south-central Wyoming. The remaining five percent of CSTG reside in smaller, isolated populations throughout central British Columbia, southeastern Idaho, northwestern Colorado and south-central Wyoming. The CSTG's current range is less than ten percent of its historic range.

EXCERPT RE: STANDING: In order to establish individual standing, “a plaintiff must allege (1) personal injury (2) fairly traceable to the defendant's allegedly unlawful conduct and (3) likely to be redressed by the requested relief.” Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751 (1984).  The Kathleen Fite affidavit satisfies the standing factors: (1) Fite, as a Plaintiff employee, professional ecologist, camper, hiker, wildlife photographer and bird-watcher has a personal protectable interest sufficient for standing; (2) Plaintiffs have already detailed that the negative 90–day finding will hinder recovery efforts; and (3) reversal of that finding will redress Fite's harm.  Moreover, Fite's declaration established, with adequate detail, past and intended future use of some of the disputed land, the CSTG's range, and the particular harm to that activity, namely an inability to enjoy seeing the Grouse in its natural habitat. The injuries asserted satisfy the Lujan v.. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560–62 (1992), requirements.

EXCERPT RE: ADEQUACY OF ANALYSIS:  Defendant contends that it has fulfilled its obligations under the APA because it reviewed all of the information submitted by Plaintiffs as well as information contained in agency files. Defendant concludes that FWS correctly rejected the petition at the 90–day stage because it lacked any information on the biological significance of the unoccupied portions of the subspecies' historical distribution. The Service concludes that it properly applied a rational interpretation of an ambiguous statutory provision (“significant portion of its range) that is entitled to deference. The Secretary points out finally that Grouse population “has, if anything, increased since 2000.” ...  The FWS 90–day Finding states,”the petition does not provide substantial information suggesting that the portion of the range where the subspecies no longer occurs is significant to the long-term persistence of the subspecies.”  FWS concludes that it is not, and explains that it “made this determination based on a combination of factors.” First, it reasoned that “the extent of habitat outside the three metapopulations is small relative to the overall range of the subspecies, roughly 4 percent of the subspecies' current occupied range.” Next, FWS explains that “there is no scientific evidence suggesting that the small, isolated populations of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse are genetically, behaviorally, or ecologically unique, or that they contribute individuals to other geographic areas through emigration.” Finally, the Finding states that “there is no scientific evidence suggesting that these habitats are important to the survival of the species because of any unique contribution to the species' natural history, e.g., for reasons such as feeding, migration, or wintering.”

It is undisputed that it is petitioner's burden to provide the FWS with a petition containing substantial information to warrant listing. At the 90–day finding stage, the agency may only consider information within the four corners of the petition. Since FWS is not permitted at the 90–day finding stage to go beyond what is provided by the petition and what is currently available in its files, the agency appropriately declined to speculate about the potential significance of the unoccupied portion of the CSTG's historic range.

***

WILDEARTH GUARDIANS v. U.S. SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, No. 4:08–cv–00508–EJL–LMB, 2011 WL 1225547 (D. Idaho, March 28, 2011).
Because the Court finds the Report and Recommendation of Judge Boyle to be well founded in law, the Court hereby accepts in their entirety, and adopts as its own, the findings made by Judge Boyle.

After procedural analysis, District Court dismisses lawsuits over FWS decisions not to designate Florida panther critical habitat

04/06/2011

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Conservancy of SW Florida v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Case 2:10-cv-00106-JES-SPC, Document #100 (M.D.Fla. April 6, 2011)

BACKGROUND: In January 2009, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida (Conservancy) filed a petition with the Service under the ESA.  Service regulations, and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), asking the Service to establish critical habitat for the Florida Panther. The Sierra Club and numerous other environmental organizations joined in that petition in July 2009.  On February 11, 2010, in three separate but virtually identical letters, the Service denied the Conservancy’s January 2009 petition, the Center for Biological Diversity’s September 2009 petition, and the Sierra Club’s November 2009 petition, and refused to designate critical habitat for the Florida Panther. In denying the petitions, the Service noted that it was in the process of working with several conservation organizations and private landowners in Collier County, Florida “to implement a landscape-scale Habitat Conservation Plan for which the landowners would seek a permit from the Service in accordance with Section 10 of the Act.” The Service noted that this process, referred to as the “Florida Panther Protection Program,” may provide a framework for conservation and recovery efforts in other locations.  

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The Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi) was listed as an endangered species in 1967 and has remained on the Endangered Species List. See 32 Fed. Reg. 4,001 (Mar. 11, 1967). In 1969, Congress enacted the Endangered Species Conservation Act, which broadened federal involvement in the preservation of endangered species. Pub. L. No. 91-35, 83 Stat. 275 (1969). The Endangered Species Act of 1973 “represented the most comprehensive legislation for the preservation of endangered species ever enacted by any nation.” TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S. at 180.  Photo fromFlorida Department of Environmental Protection.

PLAINTIFFS' COMPLAINT: On June 25, 2010, plaintiffs filed a shotgun four-count Amended Complaint (Doc. #42) alleging that the Service’s denials of plaintiffs’ several petitions to designate critical habitat for the Florida Panther violated the ESA and APA. Count I alleges the denials were arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law, in violation of the APA, 5 U.S.C. §706(2)(A), (D). Count II alleges that the denials were in violation of the requirements of § 2, 3, and 7 of the ESA and § 706(2)(A), (D) of the APA. Count III alleges that the denials were in violation of the ESA because they were not based on the best scientific data available, as required by §1533(b)(2). Count IV alleges that the denials were in violation of the ESA because the Service failed to comply with their nondiscretionary duties for designation and revision of critical habitat. Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that the denials of the petition were in violation of the law for the reasons set forth in the Amended Complaint; an order vacating the denials of the petitions; an injunction remanding the matter to defendants and ordering defendants to make all necessary findings, initiate rulemaking to designate critical habitat, and set reasonable The federal defendants filed a motion to dismiss.

EXCERPT RE: COUNT II: No private cause of action is created for simply violating the policy provision in § 1531(c)(1) or the definition of “conserve” and its variations in § 1532(3). Neither provision creates any substantive duties, see Nat’l Wildlife Fed’n v. Marsh, 721 F.2d 767, 773 (11th Cir. 1983), and nothing in the statutory scheme suggests Congressional intent to create a private cause of action for such conduct.

EXCERPT RE: COUNT III: Count III alleges that the Secretary did not comply with 16 U.S.C. § 1533(b)(2), requiring him to designate and make revisions to critical habitat on the basis of the best scientific data available, and pertinent regulations thereunder. Such a claim is subject to judicial review. Bennett, 520 U.S. at 172. The difficulty with Count III is that, as discussed below, the decision to designate critical habitat for a species declared endangered prior to the 1978 amendments to the ESA is not “not discretionary” within the meaning of § 1540(g)(1)(C)... When passed in 1973, the ESA required the Secretary to determine by regulation whether species were endangered or threatened based upon specific factors and the best scientific and commercial data available, Pub. L. No. 93-205, §§ 3(A), (B), and to publish a list of such species. Id. at § 3(C)(1). Species which had been listed under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 were deemed to be an endangered species under the ESA until republished to conform to the classifications under the ESA. Id. at § 4(C)(3).  However, the current version of the ESA, in effect at the time of the petitions in this case, defines “critical habitat,” § 1532(5)(A), then provides: “Critical habitat may be established for those species now listed as threatened or endangered species for which no critical habitat has heretofore been established as set forth in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph.” 16 U.S.C. § 1532(5)(B)… The plain meaning of the “may” in the context of the ESA is that designation of critical habitat for prior listed species is discretionary with the Secretary… Because the designation of critical habitat for species such as the Florida panther is discretionary, Count III fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

EXCERPT RE: COUNT IV: Count IV also alleges that defendants did not comply with certain non-discretionary duties under the ESA. Specifically, Count IV alleges that the Secretary failed to comply with 50 C.F.R. § 424.14(d)... The Court finds that Count IV fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and it therefore will be dismissed. Section 2(b)(2) of the 1982 amendments does not state that plaintiffs’ proposals or petitions to designate critical habitat are subject to the same procedures as if the Secretary had made the proposal for such designation...  The only requirement is that “the petition will be given prompt consideration and the petitioner will be notified promptly of action taken.” 43 C.F.R. § 14.3. The face of the Amended Complaint establishes that these procedures were followed.

EXCERPT RE: COUNT I and COUNT II ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE ACT CLAIMS: the Secretary is not required to designate critical habitat for the Florida panther. The only action that is judicially reviewable is whether the petition was given prompt consideration and plaintiffs were promptly notified of the action taken. This is a severely limited review, but a review nonetheless. Therefore, the Court finds that plaintiffs can state a claim for relief under the APA. However, just because plaintiffs’ can state a claim for relief under the APA regarding their petition does not mean that they did state a claim in the instant case... The Court finds that the Service substantially complied with 43 C.F.R. § 14.3 and gave prompt consideration to their petition and promptly notified them of its action. Thus, plaintiffs have failed to state a claim for relief pursuant to the APA.

KEITHINKING: For species listed not pursuant to the ESA, but rather, pursuant to its predecessor laws, the standards for designation of critical habitat are different. Litigation, even in the factual context of the Florida panther, cannot rewrite the legislation, and its discretionary standards.

FWS announcements: Okaloosa Darter, Spring Pygmy Sunfish, Bearmouth Mountainsnail, Byrne Resort Mountainsnail, Meltwater Lednian Stonefly, and caribou

04/06/2011

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76 Fed. Reg. 18087 (Friday, April 1, 2011) / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2008–0071; 92220–1113–0000–C6 / RIN 1018—AW95
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification of the Okaloosa Darter From Endangered to Threatened and Special Rule
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are reclassifying the Okaloosa darter (Etheostoma okaloosae) from endangered to threatened under the authority of the Endangered Species  Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The endangered designation no longer correctly reflects the current status of this fish due to a substantial improvement in the species’ status. This action is based on a thorough review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate a substantial reduction in threats to the species, a significant habitat restoration in most of the species’ range, and a stable or increasing trend of darters in all darter stream systems. We also establish a special rule under section 4(d) of the Act. This special rule allows Eglin Air Force Base to continue activities with a reduced regulatory burden and will provide a net benefit to the Okaloosa darter.

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Okaloosa darters typically inhabit the margins of moderate- to fast-flowing streams where detritus, root mats, and vegetation are present.  Okaloosa darters feed primarily on fly larvae.  The Okaloosa darter population is stable or increasing and comprised of two plus age-classes in all six stream systems for 5 consecutive years, in part because (1) instream flows and historical habitat of stream systems have been protected through management plans, conservation agreements, easements, or acquisitions (or a combination of these); and (2) Eglin AFB has and is implementing an effective habitat restoration program to control erosion from roads, clay pits, and open ranges. Image from Brad's Pictures

EXCERPT: The Okaloosa darter was listed in 1973 as an endangered species. At the time of listing, the species faced significantly greater threats than it does today, as evidenced by the numerous recovery actions to date that have improved and restored its habitat conditions. These recovery actions include completing 95 percent of the erosion control projects identified in darter watersheds, thereby significantly reducing the most intense threat to the species (see the Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section below for further details). Now, more than 35 years after it was listed under the Act, the Okaloosa darter’s overall status has improved. Given that the threats to the species have been significantly reduced, we have determined that the Okaloosa darter has recovered to the point where it now meets the definition of a threatened species—one that is ‘‘likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.’’ In other words, although some threats to the Okaloosa darter continue to exist, these threats are not likely to cause the  species to become extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future. Data collected on the distribution and abundance of the species indicate that the species’ range has expanded and overall population numbers are increasing.

KEITHINKING: Although the Okaloosa darter has met all five downlisting criteria in its recovery plan, FWS still emphasized, in its announcement, its authority to deviate from recovery criteria: "In the course of implementing conservation actions for a species, new information is often gained that requires recovery efforts to be modified accordingly. There are many paths to accomplishing recovery of a species, and recovery may be achieved without all criteria being fully met. For example, one or more recovery criteria may have been exceeded while other criteria may not have been accomplished, yet the Service may judge that, overall, the threats have been minimized sufficiently, and the species is robust enough, that the Service may reclassify the species from endangered to threatened or perhaps delist the  species. In other cases, recovery opportunities may have been recognized that were not known at the time the recovery plan was finalized. These opportunities may be used instead of methods identified in the recovery plan."

***

76 Fed. Reg. 18138 (Friday, April 1, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2010–0084; MO 92210–0–0008–B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Spring Pygmy
Sunfish as Endangered
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the spring pygmy sunfish (Elassoma alabamae) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petition and information currently available in our files presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing this species may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of the species to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this species. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 18684 (Tuesday, April 5, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2011–0016; MO 92210–0–0008–B2
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Bearmouth
Mountainsnail, Byrne Resort Mountainsnail, and Meltwater Lednian Stonefly as Endangered or Threatened
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Bearmouth mountainsnail (Oreohelix species 3), Byrne Resort mountainsnail (Oreohelix species 31), and meltwater lednian stonefly (Lednia tumana) as endangered or threatened, and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of all available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the Bearmouth mountainsnail and the Byrne Resort mountainsnail is not warranted because neither constitutes a valid taxon; therefore, they are not considered to be listable entities under the Act. We find that listing of the meltwater lednian stonefly is warranted. However, currently listing of the meltwater lednian stonefly is precluded by higher priority actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Upon publication of this 12-month petition finding, we will add the meltwater lednian stonefly to our candidate species list. We will develop a proposed rule to list the meltwater lednian stonefly as our priorities allow. We will make any determination on critical habitat during development of the proposed listing rule. During any interim period, we will address the status of the candidate taxon through our annual Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR).
KEITHINKING: Another warranted but precluded.  Priorities, priorities, priorities…

***

76 Fed. Reg. 18701 (Tuesday, April 5, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / FWS–R9–ES–2010–0001; MO 92210–0–0010 B6
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Peary Caribou and Dolphin and Union Population of the Barren-Ground Caribou as Endangered or Threatened
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the Peary (Rangifer tarandus pearyi) and the Dolphin and Union population of the barren-ground (R. t. groenlandicus x pearyi) caribou as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of these two subspecies to determine if listing these two subspecies is warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we request scientific and commercial data and other information regarding these two subspecies. At the conclusion of this review, we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.

caribouCA.jpg
The Dolphin and Union caribou primarily reside on the southern part of Victoria Island. Seasonally, they cross the frozen ice of the Dolphin and Union Strait to winter on the mainland. Their range consists of the lower part of Victoria Island.  A 1922 estimate indicated that between 100,000 and 200,000 caribou migrated across the Dolphin and Union Strait to Victoria Island. In 1973, both subspecies experienced a population crash due to freezing rain and sheets of ice, a 1980 survey indicated that there were approximately 3,400 Dolphin and Union caribou on Victoria Island, and a later surveys estimated the southern Victoria Island population to be 14,600 caribou in 1994 and 27,800 caribou in 1997. This herd does not appear to have been surveyed since then. A 2004 report indicates the population is estimated to be approximately 25,000 and the population appears to be stable or increasing. Image from Environment Canada.
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Keith Who?

Keith W. Rizzardi, a Florida lawyer, is board certified in State & Federal Administrative Practice. A law professor at St. Thomas University near Miami and Special Counsel at Jones Foster Johnston & Stubbs in West Palm Beach, he previously represented the U.S. Department of Justice and the South Florida Water Management District. A two-time Chair of The Florida Bar Government Lawyer Section, he currently serves as Chair of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee

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The experience & skills discussed in links below were not reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar. The facts and circumstances of every case are different; each one must be independently evaluated by a lawyer and handled on its own merits. Cases and testimonials may not be representative of all clients’ experience with a lawyer. By clicking the links below, you acknowledge the disclaimer above.

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16 U.S.C. §1531 et. seq.

"The Congress finds and declares that -

(1) various species of fish, wildlife, and plants in the United States have been rendered extinct as a consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation;

(2) other species of fish, wildlife, and plants have been so depleted in numbers that they are in danger of or threatened with extinction;

(3) these species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people."

16 U.S.C. §1531(a)

The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is "to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved."

16 U.S.C. §1531(b)

Reasons for the ESA

1. ECOLOGICAL: Species have a role in the web of life. Who knows which missing link causes the collapse?

2. ECONOMICAL: Species have actual, inherent, and potential value -- some as food, others as tourist attractions. As Congress said, these species have "aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation." 16 U.S.C. §1531(a).

3. MEDICAL: Although perhaps a subset of economics, medical reasons for the ESA deserve special note, because today's listed species could be tomorrow's cure for cancer.

4. MORAL: With each extinction, we take something from others. We must prevent "the tragedy of the commons."

5. THEOLOGICAL: Even the Bible instructed Noah to save God's creatures, male and female, two by two.

Reasons for ESA Reform

1. ECOSYSTEM (MIS)MANAGEMENT. The ESA encourages selective review of individual species needs, even though nature pits species needs against one another. Furthermore, the ESA's single-species focus detracts from efforts to achieve environmental restoration and ecosystem management.

2. SCIENTIFIC UNCERTAINTY: While the ESA requires consideration of the "best available science," sometimes the best is not enough, forcing decisions under great uncertainty. The ESA, however, is generally proscriptive, regulatory, and absolute; as a result, it insufficiently allows for adaptive management.

3. LITIGATION: ESA implementation is at the mercy of the attorneys. Cases involving one listed species can serve as a proxy for hidden agendas, especially land use disputes, and regardless of actual species needs, litigation and judicial orders set agency priorities. In the end, realistic solutions disappear amidst court-filings, fundraising, and rhetoric.

4. PRIVATE LANDS: Up to 80% of ESA-listed species habitat is on privately owned lands. While the ESA can place reasonable restrictions on private property rights, there are limits. But the best alternatives have limits too, such as Federal land acquisition and the highly controversial "God Squad" exemptions.

5. FUNDING: Protecting species is expensive, but resources appropriated by Congress are limited. An overburdened handful of federal agency biologists cannot keep pace with the ESA's procedural burdens, nor court-ordered deadlines (see #3 above). Provisions requiring agencies to pay attorney's fees to victorious litigators -- who challenge the hastily written documents prepared by overworked bureaucrats -- simply exacerbate the problem.

"Every species is part of an ecosystem, an expert specialist of its kind, tested relentlessly as it spreads its influence through the food web. To remove it is to entrain changes in other species, raising the populations of some, reducing or even extinguishing others, risking a downward spiral of the larger assemblage." An insect with no apparent commercial value may be the favorite meal of a spider whose venom will soon emerge as a powerful and profitable anesthetic agent. That spider may in turn be the dietary staple of a brightly colored bird that people, who are notoriously biased against creepy crawlers and in favor of winsome winged wonders, will travel to see as tourists. Faced with the prospect that the loss of any one species could trigger the decline of an entire ecosystem, destroying a trove of natural and commercial treasures, it was rational for Congress to choose to protect them all. -- Alabama-Tombigbee Rivers Coalition v. Kempthorne, 477 F.3d 1250, 1274-75 (11th Cir.2007), cert. denied, 128 S.Ct. 8775 (2008), quoting Edward O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life 308 (1992).

"This case presents a critical conflict between dual legislative purposes, providing water service for agricultural, domestic, and industrial use, versus enhancing environmental protection for fish species whose habitat is maintained in rivers, estuaries, canals, and other waterways that comprise the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… This case involves both harm to threatened species and to humans and their environment. Congress has not nor does TVA v. Hill elevate species protection over the health and safety of humans... No party has suggested that humans and their environment are less deserving of protection than the species. Until Defendant Agencies have complied with the law, some injunctive relief pending NEPA compliance may be appropriate, so long as it will not further jeopardize the species or their habitat." -- The Consolidated Delta Smelt Cases, 2010 WL 2195960 (E.D.Cal., May 27, 2010)(Judge Wanger)(addressing the need for further consideration of the human consequences of ESA compliance).

Notable quotables

"A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society." – Thomas Jefferson (1792)

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"The destruction of the wild pigeon and the Carolina parakeet has meant a loss as sad as if the Catskills or Palisades were taken away. When I hear of the destruction of a species, I feel as if all the works of some great writer had perished."

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"Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful means, the generations that come after us." – Theodore Roosevelt (Aug. 31, 1910)

Noah's orders

GENESIS, Chapter 6: [v 20] "Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive. [v 21] Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them."

GENESIS, Chapter 9: [v12] "And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations"

"The power of God is present at all places, even in the tiniest leaf … God is currently and personally present in the wilderness, in the garden, and in the field." – MARTIN LUTHER