Sonoran Desert National Monument preservation effort moves forward

Sonoran Desert National Monument.  Photo: BLM

Sonoran Desert National Monument. Photo: BLM

Last Friday WWP won a reversal of a previous court decision that would have held that Presidents have the authority to designate – but not direct management of – national monuments.

Preservation and the President: A Positive Development in the Sonoran Desert – Ti Hays, PreservationNation

Last Friday, in a positive development, a federal district court in Arizona reversed a previous decision that held that President Clinton had exceeded his authority by including management directives in the proclamation for the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

The case began when an environmental group — the Western Watersheds Project — filed a lawsuit claiming that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had taken too long to prepare a resource management plan and grazing suitability analysis for the Sonoran Desert. President Clinton created the 486,149-acre monument in 2001 through a proclamation authorized by the Antiquities Act of 1906.

WWP sought to enforce very explicit conservation directives that then President Clinton had included in designating the Sonoran Desert National Monument.  The judge’s previous interpretation of law could have rendered many national monument designations largely impotent from a conservation perspective.  Fortunately, the judge thought twice and reversed that decision.

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Burning Questions

Why the National Fire Plan is a Trojan Horse for Logging

Earlier Ralph noted a new study that suggests fire mitigation work in the US may be misplaced.  Along those same lines, George Wuerther shares an account of one experience he had digging deeper into the rationale & motive of some “fuels reduction” projects :

Burning Questions ~ George Wuerther

A couple of years ago I went on a show me tour of a Forest Service Thinning project that was funded under the National Fire Plan (NFP). A group of us, including some forest service employees, a university fire researcher, country commissioners, timber interests, and the like gathered at the Forest Service office. The district ranger explained that we were going to see a fuel reduction project designed to protect the small town where we were standing. After giving preliminary background on the proposed timber sale, we got into a bunch of Forest Service vehicles and drove out of town. And drove. And drove. And drove. Eighteen miles from the town, we got out of the car to look at the thinning project.

IDFG: Bighorn sheep testing will be done at the Caine Vet Lab.

Samples taken from killed bighorn sheep will be tested at center embroiled in controversy.

From an Idaho Fish and Game press release dated June 15 comes information that samples from the bighorn sheep killed last week will be tested at the Caine Veterinary Teaching and Research Center in Caldwell, Idaho. The Center’s director, Dr. Marie Bulgin, is at the center of a controversy relating to this very issue.

Here is the IDFG Press Release:

Date: June 15, 2009
Contact: Mike Demick
(208) 799-5010

Sick Bighorn Shot

An Idaho Fish and Game biologist Wednesday morning, June 10, shot a bighorn sheep along the Salmon River about 20 miles east of Riggins.

The seven-year-old radio-collared bighorn ram appeared ill and had been observed near a private domestic sheep ranch along the Salmon River. Officials feared it suffered from pneumonia, which is often fatal to wild sheep. It was killed after eluding authorities since May 18.

The sick ram had rejoined other bighorns a few miles upriver, but the ram was alone when it was shot.

Fish and Game biologists took blood and tissue samples from the dead bighorn. The samples will be processed at the Caine Veterinary Teaching and Research Center and the Fish and Game Wildlife Health Center in Caldwell. Results are expected in about two weeks.

The ram had been radio-collared in 2008, and blood and tissue samples taken then can be compared to the samples taken Wednesday.

Other sheep in the herd carry radio collars and will be monitored closely.

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Young grizzlies out on the plains, east of Interstate 15 in Montana

Is the move out of the mountains due to the long winter and wet spring?

We’ve been talking about grizzly south of Interstate 90 in Idaho,  but a more obvious movement is the presence of two or more grizzly bears out on the plains, well east of the Rocky Mountain front.

Young grizzlies push farther eastward. By Michael Babcock.  Tribune Outdoor Editor • Great Falls Tribune.

Bobcat fur coats raise trapping concern in West

Russian and Chinese demand pushes up pelt prices for this medium sized wildcat’s hide-

While there seem to be a lot of  bobcats in the United States, the population size is pretty much a guess. Most of the concern over trapping increase is in the Western states. Bobcat fur coats raise trapping concern in West. By Martin Griffith. Associated Press.

Phantom Hill Wolf Pack loses “Papa”, the pack’s alpha male

What will this mean with 4 domestic sheep bands scheduled to turn out on top of the Phantom’s home range in the next week ?

Idaho’s Phantom Hill Wolf Pack has lost its alpha male, B333. He was hit by a vehicle north of Ketchum over the weekend and was found dead by Ketchum resident Lynne Stone on Sunday, June 14th. Stone said she had been watching two other Phantom wolves earlier that morning, chasing cow elk and a bull moose, when she got a tip that a wolf was laying dead near Baker Creek.

June 2007 - B333, before he was collared, near a road-killed elk on Phantom Hill, north of Ketchum, Idaho. Photo  Claudia Fiaschetti © 2007,

June 2007 - B333 "Papa", before he was collared, near a road-killed elk on Phantom Hill, north of Ketchum, Idaho. Photo Claudia Fiaschetti © 2007,

“I’m stunned and saddened for B333, a grizzled older wolf that we nicknamed “Papa”, and I’m especially concerned, more than ever, for his pack” Stone said.

“This is an especially terrible time for the Phantoms to lose B333, because three sheep bands (over 7500 sheep) are coming onto Sawtooth National Forest allotments north of Ketchum — into the pack’s home range — in the next few days,” says Stone. “I saw two Phantom yearlings this morning in the area where B333 was killed. By Saturday, there will be 2500 sheep there.”

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