“Grazing-as-usual” ends on 600,000 acres of public land in southwest Idaho

 This is important news for management of public lands in sage-steppe country.

Sage grouse in flight, Bruneau uplands © Ken Cole 2008

Sage grouse in flight, Bruneau uplands © Ken Cole 2008

Judge rules in southwest Idaho grazing case – AP

A federal judge has directed the Bureau of Land Management to rethink the way it manages grazing across thousands of acres of southern Idaho, especially the impact livestock have on sage grouse and other threatened species.

Following the intense Murphy Complex Fire that swept through southern Idaho a couple summers back, wiping out 76 sage grouse leks, intense political pressure to turn the cows back out quick largely eclipsed consideration for sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, and other wildlife displaced onto the remaining habitat spared the blaze.  To give an idea of the regard for habitat in this part of the country, Ralph Maughan took photos of cattle grazing  post-burn – Bad practice when one hopes to restore the landscape.  

Given the critical importance of the remaining habitat in Jarbidge country, conservationists quickly filed suit to ensure wildlife wouldn’t take the short-end of the stick given BLM’s plan to fold and continue “grazing-as-usual” on over 625,000 acres following the fire.    

The question:

When fire (or any catastrophic event) wipes out huge swaths of wildlife habitat, how should that affect management of wildlife values versus livestock on those remaining landscapes so important to remaining wildlife ? 

Read the rest of this entry »

Former Interior Department official urges change to centuries-old mining law

Open Thread. Discuss what you want.

There have been a lot of off topic discussions recently so here you go. Have at it. Please keep it civil.

W&L Biologist’s Research Aims to Help Yellowstone Bison, Elk

Invasive species change soil ecology.

Besides making a few errors like saying that there were 3,000 buffalo killed last year rather than 1,700, and describing where the genetically pure buffalo are, this article is interesting and discusses some important issues which apply to a broader landscape.

W&L Biologist’s Research Aims to Help Yellowstone Bison, Elk
Washington and Lee University

Clean Coal Air Freshener

Now with a new and improved label! New Reality ad directed by the Academy-award winning Coen Brothers.

Jimenez says Jackson Hole wolf pack has mange

However it is only up to 11 of about 50-55 wolves that now inhabit Jackson Hole-

Federal wolf manager for Wyoming, Mike Jimenez, says the Antelope Pack, which inhabits the central area of Jackson Hole has contracted mange.

On various days as many as 4 additional wolf packs can be in or very near Jackson Hole: Pacific Creek, Buffalo, Hoback and Pinnacle.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.  “Valley wolf pack has mange, biologist says. Collaring operation sees 15 animals fitted with transmitters for research”. By Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Spending bill nixes Bush endangered species rules

Spending bill nixes Bush endangered species rules. By Dina Cappiello. AP in the Washington Post.

The Bush weakened Endangered Species Act regulations would  be out and more polar  bear protection in with the budget  bill the House Democrats are considering for the rest of the year right now in the House.