Interior/WildEarth Guardians agree to analyze backlog of candidate Endangered Species

The list of species the federal government has been more or less forced to consider for ESA protection has been growing longer and longer over the years, and yet it acts very slowly, complaining that species are being added at too fast a rate. Much of the agency’s tiny budget was eaten up responding to new petitions and defending itself from lawsuits trying to force it to consider various species for ESA protection.

Yesterday, however, it was announced the Department of Interior had made a deal with WildEarth Guardians to analyze 251 species in the backlog over the next 6 years. Officials say this will help clear the backlog. In the last four years WildEarth Guardians was filed about 700 petitions to list species. With this deal, Guardians will be allowed to file only up to ten new ESA petitions a year. Guardians will also ask to have all its pending lawsuits in the matter dismissed.

There is no assurance the government will list any species in the agreement, although it is likely quite a few will end being listed. Some, such as the greater sage grouse, are much more controversial than others. The sage grouse is controversial because it has been heavily impacted by the politically potent livestock sector as well as oil, gas, and wind development.

This is an agreement only with Guardians and does not prevent any other group from filing petitions.

Under the ESA, it was not supposed to work this way. The law’s supporters expected the environment-conscious government would discover and list species on its own accord with citizen petititions to list a species serving only as backup. The reality has been much to the opposite, however.

This deal has yet to be approved by a federal judge.

Interior Dept. strikes deal to clear backlog on endangered species listings. By Juliet Eilperin. Washington Post.

Wild Earth Guardians web site on the agreement

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More on 5-12-2011. The deal includes the sage grouse. Felicity Barringer at the New York Times tells how the sage grouse got to where it is. A Bird’s Convoluted Conservation Odyssey

Earth satellites tell the truth: Grazing threatens wildlife habitat in West

“. . . ubiquitous public lands grazing has contributed to the decline of native wildlife,” concludes the report entitled ‘Western Wildlife Under Hoof’.”

Wildearth Guardians has used satellite images and public land records to show the massive damage grazing of sheep and cattle does to the soil, water, forage, and wildlife of our public lands, including the spread of non-native invasive weeds.

Study: Grazing threatens wildlife habitat in West by Scott Sonner. Associated Press

Green group asks Obama’s new gov’t waste finder to cut BLM programs

Nancy Killefer, President Barack Obama’s new chief performance officer, asked to target wasteful natural resource programs-

To offset the cost of the stimulus package, President Obama has created a new position to look for existing government programs that are useless and wasteful. WildEarth Guardians has some ideas!

Environmentalists want Obama appointee to end waste. By Susan Montoya Bryan. AP on MSNBC.

News release from WildEarth Guardians. New White House Chief Performance Officer Called on to Reform Wasteful, Ineffective and Environmentally Harmful Public Lands and Natural Resource Programs. Jan. 28, 2009

WildEarth Guardians and The Rewilding Institute sue on the failing Mexican wolf program

Forest Guardians and Sinapu merge

Two prominent regional groups have merged to form WildEarth Guardians.

Here is the generic AP story. Green groups combine efforts.

Here is the longer story as written on Wild Again (Sinapu’s blog).  Conservation Groups Merge To Create a Force of Nature for the American West’’s Wild Places, Wildlife and Wild Rivers.

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