Forest planning contributes to listing species under ESA

A recent federal court decision has invalidated the listing of the lesser prairie chicken.  A key reason for the court’s decision was that the Fish and Wildlife Service made an assumption that if it didn’t list the species, it would reduce the incentive for participation in a conservation plan.  The judge didn’t think that was a valid assumption.  The Forest Service seems determined to prove him wrong.

Under the 2012 Planning Rule, the Forest Service has the opportunity to help forestall the need to list species under ESA by identifying them as species of conservation concern and including protective plan components for them.  The wolverine received a positive 90-day finding that listing should be considered, but the FWS ultimately decided not to.   In response, the three forest plan revision efforts that are proceeding under the 2012 Rule and have wolverine habitat (Nez Perce-Clearwater, Flathead, Helena-Lewis & Clark) have determined that the wolverine should not be identified as a species of conservation concern.

The FWS will be looking for evidence their assumption was correct.  The lesser prairie chicken may have the Forest Service to thank when it eventually gets listed.  (And the wolverine, too.)

3 Comments

  1. The Forest Service did a similar, but different thing, for the California Spotted Owl, under the Sierra Nevada Framework. I’m sure that there are still some folks out there who think it should be listed, hoping for more “protections” against thinning projects. However, the bigger losses occur during large and intense wildfires, burning nesting habitats to a crisp. The same could be said for goshawk habitats, too.

  2. Did any of you catch the “new landscapes” article in the New York Times?

    Linkie:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/22/science/as-fires-grow-a-new-landscape-appears-in-the-west.html?ref=us&_r=0

    Pull quote:
    Not everyone agrees with this gloomy assessment. William L. Baker, a professor emeritus at the University of Wyoming, has used historical land-survey data to argue in papers that large, severe wildfires are a natural phenomenon and are not necessarily worse than before.

    But Dr. Swetnam and others disagree with Dr. Baker’s conclusions, arguing that the land-survey records are not as reliable for understanding fire history than the trees’ own rings, among other data sources.

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