Maybe we could follow this story and learn about the ins and outs of ESA as this goes through the process. When I worked for the FS, we had experts so I didn’t really need to understand all the ins and outs (I was involved with the S Rockies lynx amendment, but more in terms of trying to move it along procedurally). Bob Berwyn posted this on his blog here. It’s interesting that states currently with wolverines don’t seem to be as enthused as Colorado, which currently does not have them. Correlation or causation?
Here’s an excerpt from Bob’s story:
Just in the past few weeks, the state agency rekindled those talks to update stakeholders on the federal listing process, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.
“We’re trying give everybody an understanding of how some of the things that are proposed would work … The way they’re doing it is kind of new,” Hampton said, referring to the proposed simultaneous listing and nonessential population proposal.
“Overall it was a productive meeting. There were concerns that came up, many related to lynx and the history of that,” he said.
The lynx listing resulted in more stringent reviews for certain types of projects on national forest lands, including logging, ski area operations and expansions, and other recreational uses.
Colorado won’t consider a wolverine reintroduction program until the federal listing is finalized. Then, the State Legislature would have have to give its approval, but Hampton said that state biologists are keen to explore the idea.
“There’s still a great deal of interest in this … Maybe to temper that, there’s biological excitement. There aren’t that many species that you can look at and say, they’re native, were extirpated, and there is general agreement that bringing them back would be a good thing,” he said.
Here’s my question: they aren’t here in Colorado. We bring them in (reintroduction) and then we have yet another creature to analyze on each federal proposal, and it seems that we need to analyze even when they are nowhere around because it could become habitat for them were their populations to grow (is this true?).
Would it be a “good thing”? Based on the same logic (native and extirpated) we would be reintroducing grizzlies to California.. I don’t know.. what is “biological excitement”? People get “biologically excited” for a variety of reasons, not all of which can be discussed on a family blog, but are not usually set into public policy…
I’m interested in a) whose opinion rules at the end of the day as this process goes forward (biologists who work for CDOW? USFWS?)
b) how and when the scientific information gets arrayed and how it is structured for the public to comment on the scientific information and its use.
In the case of the wolverine, the USFWS posits that snowmobiling, backcountry skiing, and land management activities like timber harvest and infrastructure development, don’t pose a serious threat, but nongovernmental conservation groups counter that there’s not enough good science to draw that conclusion. Intentional killing of wolverines would be banned in any case.
Did we move somehow from scientific information about impacts to needing to prove that there are no impacts..isn’t it impossible to prove a negative?
c) what happened with lynx.. at first it sounded like there was a deal with ski areas to support it, now every ski proposal needs to be examined for its impacts on lynx and I believe there’s been litigation that cited lynx.. how does that all work? Was there really a deal? How did it hold up?
d) How about people on private lands.. do they have the same restrictions as public lands?
e) If wolverine is up north and having trouble, is a choice to be more careful up north to protect it instead of moving it somewhere it isn’t? Which under climate change may get less hospitable for the species anyway? Is that a good use of public biologist time and federal planning and analysis funding?