Huffing and Puffing: The wolf’s strange journey on and off the endangered species list

A good blog on the delisting, relisting, and delisting of the wolf in the Northern  Rockies-

Huffing and Puffing. By Kevin Taylor. The Pacific Northwest Inlander.

Among other things, I like the discussion of the snail darter from back in the 1970s when Congress decided to build a real white elephant of a dam and doom this tiny fish.* Congress has interfered with the ESA before. People should remember that.

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* The snail darter inhabited only the area to be flooded by the Tellico Dam. If it was built, the darter was extinct (or so it was thought . . . more were found later elsewhere). This was the first time the cabinet level Endangered Species Committee or “God squad” was used. The God Squad, however, looked at the matter and decided the Tellico Dam was such a piece of rancid congressional pork that the country would be better off economically, not even to mention the snail darter, if the dam was never completed. This after the dam was 90% done!! Congress loved its pork though, and over-road the Committee and the ESA, and finished the damn dam, violating residents property rights in the process, in the opinion of many whose land was put permanently underwater.

Quagga mussels escape Colorado River/Lake Mead

Invasive pests are now in northern Nevada-

When quagga mussels were found in Lake Mead, that was the unfortunate first infestation west of the Mississippi, but now some anglers or boaters accidentally spread them to two northern Nevada reservioirs.

Quagga mussel infestation hits reservoirs in Northern Nevada. By Henry Brean. Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Montana judge halts the building of megaload turnouts in Western Montana

Another roadblock to the use of Idaho Highway 12 and Montana highways as corridors for moving Alberta bound tar sand equipment-

This is good news, although likely temporary.

The turnouts constructed on the Montana side of Lolo Pass appear to be larger than the oil giant said and closer to Lolo Creek which already suffers from highway runoff.

Judge stops construction of big-rig turnouts in western Montana
.  By Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian

Pacific salmon run helps shape Canada’s ecosystems

Predators help disperse salmon, nutrient on streambanks

This article describes the results of a study suggesting another “trophic cascade” mechanism by which predators and salmon interact, enriching the diversity of plant-life in the world’s largest old-growth temperate rainforest:

Pacific salmon run helps shape Canada’s ecosystemsBBC News

The annual migration sees salmon return to western Canada to spawn, but many are caught by bears and wolves, which carry carcasses away from the streams.

This allows nutrient-rich plants to thrive in these areas.

Plan to protect Yellowstone Park’s fish is being developed

Comments wanted on the Park’s Native Fish Conservation Plan Environmental Assessment-

The Park’s fish have taken a real beating the last 20 years from disease and the introduction of lake trout into Yellowstone Lake. Your comments are due Jan. 31, 2011.

“The preferred alternative would conserve the Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake by increased netting of non-native lake trout. It also calls for removal of non-native fish from some streams and lakes in the park, and introduction of native fish into restored habitats. It would allow managers to take an adaptive management approach to native fish conservation, incorporating new information and lessons gained from experience in annual work and treatment plans. This plan does not propose any changes in the Madison or Firehole rivers.
The Environmental Assessment (EA) and an electronic form to submit comments on the internet can be found on the web at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/yell. A hard copy or CD of the EA is available by calling (307) 344-2874, or by writing to the Native Fish Conservation Plan EA, National Park Service, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.”

News release. Plan To Protect Yellowstone’s Native Fish Open For Public Review

“Extinct” Japanese salmonid found unextinguished after 70 years

Living black kokanee found . . . enough for a recovery-

Scientist says he found Japanese fish thought extinct. Associated Press.

The fish were found in Lake Saiko, about 500 kilometers south of their native lake where they were killed off in the 1940s.

Resurgent Northwest salmon show dam ‘spill’ is better than barging

The fish do better in the river than they do in a barge.

I’m not really a fan of Rocky Barker because I think he is biased towards the collaborative process because it has worked within the framework of the Snake River salmon and steelhead issue. When contrasted with other collaborative processes this issue has a fundamental difference, Judge Redden and the force of federal law. Because of this there is accountability to the “best available science” mandated by the Endangered Species Act not just the whims of people who want to go along to get along as happens with other collaborative groups.

What biologists have known for a long time about salmon is that they do much better when they migrate to the ocean in the river over the dams and not through them, they also know that when they are captured and carried down river in a barge they are exposed to all kinds of disease and are less fit to deal with the transition from fresh to salt water once they are released downstream of Bonneville Dam. More of the barged fish suffered “delayed mortality” than those that migrated downriver on their own.

As an activist, I feel that recovery of salmon and steelhead calls for more than just a minimum population of fish returning to their spawning grounds but rather flourishing population that contributes to the whole ecosystem of the rivers which were once blessed with millions of fish each year. The historic runs of salmon and steelhead had immense influence on the productivity of the ecosystem and provided crucial nutrients to the central Idaho streams they still sparsely inhabit. True recovery should require the removal of the 4 Lower Snake River dams.

Resurgent Northwest salmon show dam ‘spill’ is better than barging
Rocky Barker – The Idaho Statesman.