ESA in the News: FWS shuffles, and other smelt, salmon, and sawfish stories
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is making minor but familiar changes to its endangered species management personnel, reports the New York Times. Gary Frazer is back, overseeing the endangered species program for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, just as he did under the Clinton administration, and Bryan Arroyo, currently assistant director of endangered species, will become assistant director for fisheries and habitat conservation. But the return of the Clintonites hasn't satisfied some environmental fundraisers, the American Spectator sarcastically (and don't forget, sore-loserly) points out in a recent article titled we've won, please help.
But Congress is showing the money to endangered species, allocating funds for sea otters and turtles, and San Juan residents are helping the whales, though, protesting the effects of whale watching on orcas. See EarthTimes. In fact, due to new NOAA rules to protect killer whales, the U.S. Navy can't use sonar in Puget Sound noted the Kitsap Sun, but recent got permission to increase use in Florida waters. See Jacksonville.com.
The noise continues to reach painful volumes in the struggle over protection of the delta smelt in the Sacramento Delta, however. USA Today reports that farmers are blaming the Feds for worsening the drought, local boaters are planning an in-water protest, and Rep. George Radanovich (R-Fresno), personally signed the Pacific Legal Foundation's petition seeking to invoke the Endangered Species Act "God Squad" to create an exception to the ESA. “Without relief from the God Squad, the harsh enforcement of rigid environmental rules will inflict more pain and suffering," says PLF. But harsh enforcement is exactly what happened in Vermont, where one man is going to jail for possession of a lynx carcass. Eventually, someone else in New Jersey may land time for some pilfered piping plover eggs. But the Heritage Foundation says that the ESA enforcement is an example of over-criminalization, especially in the context of orchids.
After reading that it was not criminal to send trout off a 460 foot cliff, see Oregon Statemen Journal, I wondered if the Heritage Foundation might have a point. But for the moment (with the exception of the tearing down of Oregon's Gold Ray Dam), it is almost as though hydropower operators are being praised as heroes. Idaho biologists expect good sockeye salmon numbers, says the Idaho Mountain Express, and the LA Times report that hydropower is getting even greener when it comes to salmon management.
And finally (in a few items of personal interest), a University of Florida shark expert (go Gators) is helping with the efforts to protect sawfish too, and Plum Island, an 840 acre island home to a federal animal disease research center near Long Island's North Fork (check out the vineyards) is for sale.