Judge overturns BLM grazing decision

This is what WWP calls “low hanging fruit”

Ely Sheep Grazing Allotments. The orange polygons represent bighorn sheep distribution and the red polygon represents the Warm Springs sheep trail. Click for larger view.

For the last several years I have been appealing grazing decision issued by the Ely District of the BLM and, over and over again, the District only considers alternatives which maintain the status quo even when they have identified problems on the allotments that are either caused by or exacerbated by livestock grazing.

The decision that was overturned and remanded back to the Ely District was for sheep grazing on 8 allotments encompassing 1.3 million acres of the Egan Field Office.  In their decision the BLM only considered two alternatives, one which would have renewed the previous 10-year decision without any changes; and one which would have renewed the permit with very minor changes in seasonal use, and placed very weak utilization standards on different components of the vegetation but kept the exact same number of grazing AUMs.  They didn’t consider a no grazing alternative or an alternative which would have reduced grazing levels at all.

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WWP, CBD and 3 Tribes fight Spring Valley Wind Project

Suit Filed to Protect One of Nevada’s Largest Bat Roosts, National Park

For immediate release – January 25, 2011

Contacts: Jon Marvel, Executive Director Western Watersheds Project, 208.788.2290
Rob Mrowka, Center for Biological Diversity, 702.249.5821

LAS VEGAS, Nev – Two conservation groups and three Indian Tribes filed suit today to protect a pristine mountain valley adjacent to Great Basin National Park in Nevada from a poorly-sited 8000 acre industrial wind energy project, approved by the Department of the Interior with minimal environmental review. The valley is home to rare and imperiled wildlife such as the greater sage grouse, and sensitive species including golden eagles and free-tailed bats. The project area is also a sacred site to Western Shoshone Tribes.

“We hope this litigation will lead the federal government to choose less damaging locations for wind power developments,” said Jon Marvel, executive director of Western Watersheds Project.

“Renewable energy is nationally and globally important for addressing the growing threats from climate change,” said Rob Mrowka, an ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the parties in the suit. “But, renewable projects must be properly located with careful consideration of the values of not only the site but also of the surrounding area”.

On October 15, 2010 the Bureau of Land Management approved a proposal by Spring Valley Wind, LLC, a subsidiary of Pattern Energy of San Francisco, to construct the project on public lands in northeastern Nevada just north of Great Basin National Park. BLM approved the project over the objections of state and federal wildlife officials, nearby tribes, and conservation groups. Rather than carrying out a detailed review involving the preparation of an environmental impact statement, BLM instead prepared only a cursory environmental assessment.

“The best ways to avoid negative impacts of renewable energy projects are to carry out a thorough environmental review and site them carefully. Unfortunately, in this case BLM did neither,” noted Mrowka.

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War on Trees: Harry Reid, Ag Extension Agents, and Chinese biomass companies promote liquidation of old growth forests……. in Nevada

Pinyon and juniper trees, demonized by ranchers, miners and water mining entities, are being eyed by Chinese “biomass” companies with the backing of politicians.

Pinyon Juniper Forest, Nevada.  Photo - Katie Fite

Pinyon Juniper Forest, Nevada. Photo - Katie Fite

Recently the Nevada Pinyon-Juniper Partnership, aided by USDA, set up a conference to discuss pinyon and juniper trees. At the conference were several players in government and business who have an interest in the removal of pinyon and juniper trees in the Great Basin. Bob Abbey, the director of the BLM, attended the meeting.

Most people don’t think of the Great Basin when they think of old growth forests but the pinyon-juniper forests there are ancient forests with several hundred year old trees that provide important habitats and food for many species of birds like pinyon jays, Clark’s nutcrackers, black throated gray warblers, small mammals, nesting raptors. The charismatic seed-caching Clark’s nutcracker faces catastrophic food shortages in the Rockies due to whitebark pine die-off. It relies on large-seeded pines – and the pinyon pine has a superb large seed that was also vital to supporting Native American cultures in the Great Basin.

The refuge provided by these trees are probably the only reason that central Nevada has any elk at all. They are one of the important components that keep the entire Great Basin Ecosystem together because they retain snow later into the year due to their shade and absorb CO2. Their destruction would promote global warming and desertification by making the area hotter and drier. Read the rest of this entry »

Wind resistance

Will the petrocracy — and greens — keep Wyoming from realizing its windy potential?

Wind power is not a popular thing in Wyoming for some and very popular for others. It is very unpopular for advocates for sage grouse and other birds.

Wind resistance.
High Country News

Posted in birds, oil and gas, sage grouse, Wind, Wyoming. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Wind resistance

Sage grouse disappearing in S.D.

Only 1500 birds left in the state

Habitat destruction and fragmentation has caused a severe reduction in sage grouse numbers in South Dakota. Livestock grazing and energy development, especially wind, is a serious threat to the remaining birds there. The birds are behaviorally disposed to avoid tall vertical structures because they provide perches to predators.

Sage grouse disappearing in S.D.
JOHN POLLMANN • FOR THE ARGUS LEADER

Wyoming wind project offers grouse conservation plan

1000 turbine wind farm proposed in Wyoming “Core” Sage Grouse Habitat

Misplaced Wind Destroys Wildlife Habitat

It seems the Wyoming Governor’s “core” sage grouse habitat mapping doesn’t mean much. Removal of fencing or marking it with reflectors doesn’t get around the fact that there will be gigantic wind turbines in the middle of sage grouse habitat. Sage grouse don’t like such things and will likely quit using the area. But they will still call it “green” and people will buy it.

Wyoming wind project offers grouse conservation plan
By MATT JOYCE – Associated Press Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Agencies Sign Agreement to Protect Sage-Grouse Habitat

But they continue to ignore the biggest threat to their habitat……….. GRAZING.
$16 million in handouts for this year alone.

Sage grouse tracks © Katie Fite

The NRCS is handing out more money to ranchers for “habitat conservation” or “habitat improvement” projects that maintain grazing on public lands.

There are some projects such as fence removal that will be funded but the proposed seeding projects may require new fencing to keep livestock out for measly the 2 years they recommend and in some circumstances they call for applying herbicides to restrict the growth of sagebrush so that the seedlings can get a foothold.

So many times we’ve seen that these kinds of projects are co-opted by the livestock industry to be of more benefit to them rather than the values the funding was made available for. I doubt this will be any exception since they have made a concerted effort to deny that livestock have any role in sage-grouse habitat destruction.

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