The Alchemy of Biology and Administration

“Gee, it says “Get thee to the Nez Perce..””

Is this really what it sounds like?. Hopefully someone can explain to me what is really meant.
Here’s a link to the story. (Sharon realizes that the above photo is not of a lynx)

The Forest Service failed to mention the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests are being administratively combined, the complaint states. The Clearwater Forest is listed as “occupied” by the Canada Lynx, in the Northern Rockies Lynx Management Direction (NRLMD) under the ESA. If both forests are combined, the protection would extend to the Nez Perce Forest, the environmentalists say.

“If a forest is designated ‘occupied’ for NRLMD purposes, the entire forest holds this status and remains ‘occupied’ indefinitely,” the complaint states. “Thus, if the Clearwater National Forest and the Nez Perce National Forest are combined, the entire Nez Perce-Clearwater Forest will be considered ‘occupied’ under the NRLMD and subject to its management restrictions.”

6 thoughts on “The Alchemy of Biology and Administration”

  1. Here’s more info you wanted, Sharon, from the plaintiff’s press release. Note that, in fact, “Forest Service personnel have seen lynx in the Little Slate area and across the Nez Perce National Forest.”

    Also, note this snip from an AP article (

    “The Fish and Wildlife Service has declared Canada lynx to be no longer present in the Nez Perce National Forest, according to the lawsuit. But the environmental groups maintain that the species was historically present in the region, and that Forest Service workers reported sighting a Canada lynx in July 2006 and November of 2010. The groups claim the federal agencies didn’t take those sightings under consideration when approving the logging plan.”

    Conservation groups file lawsuit to stop logging and road-building in Nez Perce National Forest

    Moscow, ID – The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Clearwater filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in Federal District Court against the Forest Service to stop the Little Slate timber sale in the Salmon River Ranger District of the Nez Perce National Forest. This timber sale authorizes 2,598 acres of logging including 1,211 acres of clearcuts plus 515 acres of prescribed burning, 2,084 acres of excavator piling, 12 miles of road construction, and 15 miles of road reconstruction on previously closed roads.

    “Unfortunately we have to go to court to stop this timber sale because the Forest Service keeps trying to spend taxpayers’ money destroying important habitat for threatened and sensitive species instead of maintaining and recovering them as required by federal law,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “On the Little Slate sale, that includes pileated woodpeckers, Northern goshawks, Canada lynx, bull trout, Snake River steelhead and Chinook salmon.”

    “Forest Service personnel have seen lynx in the Little Slate area and across the Nez Perce National Forest,” Garrity added. “Yet inexplicably, the agency failed to examine how logging is hurting Canada lynx, which are listed as ‘threatened’ – and hence protected — under the Endangered Species Act. In fact, the Forest Service has failed to complete any acceptable surveys for this imperiled animal, even after its failure to do so was criticized by the federal Court in a prior case.”

    “Likewise, the Forest Service has not been able to find — or has failed to disclose – any survey results for pileated woodpeckers, goshawks or fishers, all of which are old growth Management Indicator Species. The agency even admits that past logging removed mature and old growth forest habitats that provide the highest quality habitats for these species despite the fact that the National Forest Management Act requires the Forest Service to ensure that they don’t kill all of the native species of wildlife when they log.” Garrity continued. “The planned logging would destroy an additional 2,400 acres of habitat for these species and the agency is simply continuing to allow this serious habitat destruction without doing its homework.”

    “Both the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are violating both the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act because they failed to adequately discuss and analyze the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of more logging and road building on bull trout, Snake River steelhead, Chinook salmon and their habitat,” added Gary McFarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director for Friends of the Clearwater. “Thus, these federal agencies are failing to ensure the survival and recovery of these threatened native fish as required by law.”

    “Slate Creek is a high priority watershed for bull trout,” Macfarlane continued. “But the Forest Service wants to build more roads and dump more sediment into pristine streams — the very thing that caused bull trout to be listed as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act in the first place. It is the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.”

    “We have been involved in every step of this process and made the federal government aware of our concerns. It is unfortunate that we have to ask the court to intervene to protect habitat for old growth dependent species and native fish as the law requires,” Macfarlane concluded. “It’s not something we prefer to do, but in the end, judicial review of government actions is guaranteed by our constitution and we are using it to challenge the government’s actions exactly as it was intended.”

    Here’s a copy of the complaint….

  2. Forest Service employees “who reported seeing” Canadian lynx on two isolated occasions over a ten-year period is meaningless. No photos? Didn’t the cats leave footprints, a tuft of hair, or take a dump somewhere? Hmmm. Anybody else remember phantom lynx being used in this manner?

    Were they even really lynx, assuming they were something other than an active imagination or a strategic political claim? What were the actual names and qualifications of the “USFS” claimants? Were they affiliated with any local enviro groups that might profit by their claimed sightings? Could it have been bobcats or feral toms from town?

    This is what boiler-plate obstructionism is all about. That, and money, of course. What a bunch of self righteous bull trout. You gotta love it if you’re a lawyer — it doesn’t matter which side you’re representing; you’re still going to get paid for the deal.

  3. “Were they even really lynx, assuming they were something other than an active imagination or a strategic political claim? What were the actual names and qualifications of the “USFS” claimants?”

    Bob – you are correct on both (over)active imagination and strategic politcal claims. Likely bobcats on each account judging from location of sightings. Neither were in what is considered lynx habitat (far from it – Nez is not habitat) but each was in “classic” bobcat habitat. Neither of the individuals were qualified or experienced enough to make such a fleeting determination. The “sightings” have become somewhat of an inside joke….

    Not to say that Lynx can’t show up in unlikely places:

    But these instances are obviously rare and transitory in nature.

    I agree with the questions Sharon points out above…the Clearwater is habitat, the Nez Perce is not….they become administratively “joined” and the whole kit-and-caboodle should suddenly be lynx habititat ???

    One could have a field day with that logic….

  4. Of the link that JZ showed, I was most intrigued by this:

    Preferred lynx habitat is young, regenerating forests that support its primary prey, snowshoe hares.

    If that’s preferred lynx habitat, why are we so worried about thinning and fuel reduction? Sounds like we should get the young regenerating forests established ASAP.
    I am confused.

    • “I am confused”

      We all are Sharon.

      I use the term “bunny habitat” in a tongue-and-cheek fashion all the time but as you and the link pointed out, lynx need foraging habitat too. As well as denning habitat, safe travel corridors, etc, etc. Foraging habitat, (and the other needs of lynx – and other T&E species) can be created, maintained and enhanced through responsible forest management (call it restoration if you must).

      It’s intriguing that professional biologists can ackowledge that timber harvest can be a benefit to lynx, if designed correctly, yet the enviro groups think that cutting of any trees (excuse me, “massive timber sales”) is the worst thing that could happen……….really? I mean really? How many acres are we talking annually, per region, per critical habitat?

      Bob is correct. Boiler plate stuff. Especially for those who are admidttedly opposed to any extractive based use of NFS lands. Sorry to sound jaded, but I am….I think they could care less about the welfare of T&E species and care more about their own agendas and keeping the controversy alive and the money coming…

      Before I get booed too badly, I have a copy of the NRLMD, LCAS, and ESA on my desk….as I said, I find in intriguing that compliance with each can be designed into a project and challenged via lawsuit almost every time….who is right? Who decides?


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