Media Clips 3/15/13

NATIONAL

Enviro groups to sue Interior over dunes lizard decision. E&E News (sub. req.). Two environmental groups said they plan to sue the Interior Department over its decision last summer to withdraw a proposal to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as an endangered species, arguing that too little was known about how landowners planned to protect its habitat. The Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife said the Fish and Wildlife Service wrongly assumed that a Texas plan would protect the reptile’s shinnery oak dune habitat, even though it had never seen the specific conservation steps landowners had committed to take.

CALIFORNIA

Toxic Turtles: Long-lasting Chemicals May Be Harming Sea Turtle. East Bay Express. Decimated by climate change, poaching, accidental snaring, and ocean trash, all US species of sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, which makes studying them difficult. “We really have just barely touched the tip of the iceberg,” said Jennifer Keller, a marine biologist at the Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina. She is the top expert on pollution in sea turtles.

FLORIDA

Dead manatee in Marco waters adds to record year for red tide-caused deaths. Naples News. The deadly algae has killed 184 manatees this year, including four in Collier County, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials. The first Collier sea cow was found Feb. 9 in Rookery Bay, another a week later, floating in Henderson Creek, and another was recovered in Sanctuary Sound off Marco Island on March 4. One of those found in Lee County was in Ten Mile Canal in the Estero area.

NEW MEXICO

Dunes lizard object of lawsuit. Albuquerque Journal. Two organizations filed notice Thursday that they will sue the federal government over its reliance on confidential agreements in last year’s decision to withhold Endangered Species Act protections for the dunes sagebrush lizard. The two groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erred by relying on voluntary habitat conservation agreements, signed by property owners in Texas, because those agreements are confidential, even from the federal government.

OREGON

Chicken species eyed for Endangered Status by EPA. Natural Resources Report. The Lesser Prairie-Chicken, a species of grouse found in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas should not be added to the “threatened” list under the Endangered Species Act, the American Farm Bureau Federation told the Fish and Wildlife Service. F WS can reasonably and responsibly withdraw its proposal to list the bird as threatened while continuing to meet its legal obligations to protect it under the ESA, according to AFBF.

UTAH

Public lands legislation puts federal control in cross hairs. Salt-Lake Tribune. Rep. Mike Noel’s HB155, aka “the sheriff’s bill,” would bar employees of federal-land management agencies from acting in a law-enforcement capacity except in emergency situations. The Kanab Republican also sponsored HB382 designating a “grazing zone” over Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It overwhelmingly passed, while a Senate resolution calling for protecting Greater Canyonlands was referred to interim study.

TEXAS

Whooping Cranes 1, Texas 0. Courthouse News Service. Texas violated the Endangered Species Act by diverting freshwater from a critical whooping crane refuge and must act to protect the birds, a federal judge ruled. The judge noted that the environmental groups gathered credible evidence from world-renowned experts, including a Nobel Laureate, whereas one of Texas’s experts “admitted that he had made up [an] entire statement” to try to defend the state, the judge wrote.