Volume 17, Issue 5, October 2007

Editor:  Laura M. Bies
Reporters: Jennie Miller and Rachel Peacher

Get The Wildlife Policy News (v17, i5) as a single PDF file.

Wildlife Policy News is intended to foster the exchange of information about policy issues among Society leaders.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy of The Wildlife Society unless so stated.  Please share this publication with your colleagues.  Contents may be reprinted with credit to Wildlife Policy News.  We welcome comments and suggestions for future issues ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ). 

 In this Issue:



Forest Service Releases EIS for New Planning Rule 

The United States Forest Service (USFS) has been attempting to revise its forest-planning rule for several years.  In response to lawsuits brought by environmental and industry groups in 2000, the USFS proposed new versions of the rule in 2002, 2004, and 2005, but has yet to finalize a rule.

In March 2007, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco enjoined the United States Department of Agriculture from implementing the USFS’s 2005 planning rule until it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.  To fulfill the court’s requirements, the USFS released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on 23 August for public comment.

The planning rule determines how 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands develop their individual management strategies.  These documents, called forest plans, control all activities on USFS lands, from wildlife management and vegetation protection to timber harvest.

The EIS presents 5 alternatives, largely comprised of previously proposed planning rules:

  • Alternative A is the 2005 rule, and contains disputed aspects such as an ecosystem-oriented species management system, allowances for bypassing EIS analysis, and installation of an Environmental Management System (EMS) to evaluate impacts on the environment. 
  • Alternative B would follow the 2000 rule currently in place, which uses viability assessments for species management decisions and establishes scientific advisory boards to incorporate science. 
  • Alternative C consists of the 1982 rule and is the only alternative that mandates a minimum amount of management action as a separate category section.  However, it includes outdated species management requirements and contains less emphasis on public involvement than the more recent rules.
  • Alternative D is identical to the 2005 rule, except that it excludes the EMS. 
  • Alternative E is similar to the 2005 rule, but omits the EMS and expands the descriptions of measurable standards, timber management requirements, and specifications for lands not suitable for timber production and harvest, three areas that received copious feedback from the public.

Some environmental groups maintain the proposed rule places too much emphasis on decisions at the project level rather than at the broader planning level.  Supporters, such as the American Forest Resource Council, disagree, arguing that the USFS can make more comprehensive decisions at the project level than at a theoretical landscape level.

To parallel the proposed planning rule modifications, the USFS is proposing changes to its NEPA procedures to make EIS studies address real decisions rather than merely preventing litigation, as has been the tendency in the past.  Changes include moving NEPA procedures from the agency handbook to a federal regulation, reducing the list of actions that require an EIS, requiring the analysis of cumulative effects of proposals such as timber sales, and implementing ‘adaptive management’ practices.

Comments on the EIS will be accepted until 22 October 2007.  The draft is available for review at http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nfma/2007_planning_rule.html.

Sources: USDA Forest Service, E&E Publishing, LLC (Land Letter, Greenwire)



Draft Ivory-billed Woodpecker Recovery Plan Released

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently released a draft recovery plan for the ivory-billed woodpecker, which was thought to be extinct until research scientists announced sightings in 2004 and 2005. 

Birds have been spotted in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas, as well as in South Carolina and Florida.  The woodpecker has not yet been photographed, although poor-quality video footage has been obtained.  Because of this, some ornithologists debate whether the birds sighted were indeed the ivory-billed woodpecker or its more common relative, the pileated woodpecker. 

The last confirmed sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker was in a cut-over Louisiana forest during 1944 but the species was not listed as endangered until 1967.  Although logging and disturbed contiguous forest habitat were associated with its disappearance, no recovery plan was developed at that time.

The new draft recovery plan recommends population and habitat surveys and modeling to assess whether the Cache and White river basins in Arkansas can support recovery populations of the species.  Additional “recovery actions” include education and outreach as well as managing public activities in other habitat areas where the woodpecker has been observed.  The recovery program is estimated to cost $28 million over a period of five years.

More information on the draft ivory-billed woodpecker recovery plan can be found at http://www.fws.gov/ivorybill/.  Public comments will be accepted until 22 October 2007.

Sources: E&E Publishing, LLC (E&E News PM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Report Says Prairie Pothole Protection Lagging

According to a September report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) goal of acquiring an additional 12 million acres of land in the Upper Midwest’s Prairie Pothole Region will unlikely be met if federal land acquisitions continue at the current pace.  The report, requested by the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, examines the program’s current status and recommends actions that would increase the likelihood of reaching this goal.

The GAO report asserts that it could take approximately 150 years to protect 1.4 million acres of wetlands and 10.4 million acres of grasslands that have been labeled as high-priority, if acquisition continues at the current rate.  The FWS may have only several decades before most of this acreage is converted to agricultural uses.  The GAO recommends that the FWS focus more on acquiring the least expensive high-priority habitat and cites an example in which an additional 8,500 acres in South Dakota could have been acquired if federal officials had more effectively targeted low-cost areas. 

Since the Small Wetlands Acquisition Program’s inception in the 1950s, 3 million acres of wetlands and grasslands in the Prairie Pothole Region have been acquired and protected.  The program was created through an amendment to the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act, commonly known as the “Duck Stamp Act” in 1958.  It aims to sustain remaining migratory bird populations by permanently protecting key at-risk areas that are capable of supporting a high density of breeding bird pairs. 

The 64 million acre Prairie Pothole Region stretches from Central Iowa to Eastern Alberta, Canada.  The shallow depressions that now form wetlands in this area were created as glaciers receded from the last ice age.  Only an estimated 40 to 50 percent of the region's original prairie pothole wetlands remain undrained today.

The report is available at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d071093.pdf.

Sources:  Ducks Unlimited, E&E Publishing, LLC (E&E Daily), Environmental Protection Agency, Government Accountability Office


BLM Releases Draft Plan for NPR-A 

In August 2007, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the Northeast National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) Draft Supplemental Integrated Activity Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (IAP/EIS).  The document analyzes the impacts that oil and gas development would have on lands of the NPR-A, a 23 million acre area on the North Slope of Alaska.  This draft was developed in response to the September 2006 District Court ruling in National Audubon Society v. Kempthorne, which found the cumulative impact analysis in the January 2005 Final Amended IAP/EIS to be inadequate.  

Specifically, the plan examines the 4.6-million-acre northeast portion of the NPR-A that contains Teshekpuk Lake, an essential habitat for caribou, waterfowl, and other wildlife.  The lake and its surrounding lands were made unavailable for leasing in 1998 because of concerns for sensitive wildlife and subsistence hunting and fishing.  BLM officials have said that the region around the Lake may hold around 2 billion barrels of oil.

The plan identifies four potential alternatives that are essentially identical to the 2005 final version:

  • Alternative A:  No Action.  This alternative would continue the management established in the 1998 plan, with lands north and east of Teshekpuk Lake unavailable for leasing.  This plan would yield 2,900 MMbbl of oil.
  • Alternative B: The entire area would be available for leasing, except for 213,000 acres (5%) northeast of Teshekpuk Lake.  Almost 4.4 million of the 4.6 million acres in the northeast quadrant would be open to oil and gas drilling.  This plan would yield 3,350 MMbbl of oil.
  • Alternative C:  The entire area would be available for leasing.  This plan would yield 4,050 MMbbl of oil. 
  • Alternative D:  The entire area would be available for leasing, with leasing under Teshekpuk Lake (5%) deferred indefinitely.  Surface activities, including the installation of permanent oil and gas facilities on lands around the lake, would be restricted.  However, no limitations would be placed on pipelines.  This alternative would yield 3,700 MMbbl of oil.  

Some biologists are concerned that oil and gas development on lands used by caribou for calving and insect-relief could interfere with caribou movements and incur reproductive consequences.  Waterfowl breeding, brood-rearing, and molting activities in the goose molting habitat would also be severely impacted.  In addition, oil spills in this area could create long-lasting negative impacts to waterfowl and wildlife populations. 

Comments are being accepted through 23 October, after which the BLM will develop a final draft.  To view the draft IAP/EIS and submit comments, visit http://www.blm.gov/ak/st/en/prog/planning/npra_general/ne_npra/northeast_npr-a_draft.html.

Sources: Bureau of Land Management, E&E Publishing, LLC (Land Letter), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Reports Reveal Agencies Unprepared for Climate Change Impacts

Two reports released independently by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in early September assess how climate change will impact natural resources in the United States and whether government agencies are prepared to handle the effects.

The USDA, in affiliation with the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, released “Synthesis Assessment Product 4.3: The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity” for public comment.  The peer-reviewed second draft of the report utilizes 1,000 references to provide an in-depth analysis of how shifts in temperature, precipitation, and nitrogen and CO2 concentrations will influence agricultural production, water availability, ecosystem equilibrium, and biodiversity over the next 25 to 50 years.

Predictions in the report include expectations for higher temperatures to reduce the annual yield of horticultural crops (grain, oilseed) but cause a higher yield of vegetative crops (soybeans, wheat).  Forests are also predicted to experience faster growth due to rising CO2 concentrations and nitrogen deposition increasing photosynthesis processes.  Arid land vegetation, however, will likely face degradation by the loss of nitrogen and expansion of invasive species, erosion, and severe droughts.  While precipitation is expected to increase, snow pack will likely decrease, leading to reduced summer and fall low flows that will constrain reservoir systems.  As for biodiversity, the migratory timing and distribution of many species will continue to shift, and pathogens and invasive plants are predicted to spread.

Along a similar vein, the GAO report evaluates the responses of government resource agencies to climate change impacts.  “Climate Change: Agencies Should Develop Guidance for Addressing the Effects on Federal Land and Water Resources” found that resource managers as a whole have not prioritized climate change, and that their strategic plans do not address the necessary adjustments.

According to the report, the combined lack of resources and tendency of managers to focus on near-term, required activities has prevented them from addressing longer-term issues associated with climate change.  On top of these shortfalls, resource managers have limited guidance, particularly for site-specific actions, and are consequently uncertain how to plan for future shifts.  To solve these dilemmas, the GAO recommends that the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, and the Interior advise managers how to collect information and prepare for climate change.  This guidance is intended to generate consistent responses within the agencies and ensure that U.S. resources are managed appropriately to minimize degradation.

The USDA’s “Synthesis Assessment Product 4.3” is available at http://www.climatescience.gov; comments will be accepted until 26 October 2007.  The GAO assessment is available at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07863.pdf

Sources: United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. Climate Change Science Program, Government Accountability Office


Groups Seek Shorter Grizzly Hunting Season

Although healthy, the brown bear population in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve is currently declining.  Some biologists suspect that the cause may be a recent increase in the number of bears that hunters are permitted to harvest.  Between 1985 and 2002, an average of about seven bears were killed each year, yet as many as 35 bears have been harvested during each of the past two years.  Business owners in the tourist industry are now raising concern over the shortage of bears, and claim that visitors are finding fewer opportunities to view wild grizzlies.

Concerned with the decline, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), along with 15 co-signers from tour companies, conservation organizations, and government agencies, requested in August that the National Park Service’s (NPS) Alaska Region Director Marcia Blaszak initiate an emergency effort to shorten the upcoming hunting season from October 1 to at least October 7.  The group also pressured Blaszak to more rapidly complete the grizzly management plan for Katmai National Park.

The NPCA’s request parallels recommendations made by the NPS to the state Board of Game earlier this year that also suggested the implementation of a shorter hunting season.  However, the NPS’s perspective has since shifted in light of more recent biological surveys, which indicated that bear populations in Katmai are healthy.  The agency claims that while bear populations may appear smaller in the local areas cited by the NPCA, they are stable over the broader region.  An official response to the NPCA’s request will be issued by the NPS later this month.

Sources: E&E Publishing, LLC (Land Letter)


New Executive Order on Hunting

On 16 August 2007, President Bush issued an executive order entitled “Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation.”  The order directs federal agencies that have programs and activities with a “measurable effect on public land management, outdoor recreation, and wildlife management” to expand quality hunting opportunities and manage game species and their habitats. 

With this order, the President urged federal land employees to consider the economic values of hunting and establish goals for healthy and productive game populations.  Public land agencies are to utilize already existing state and tribal management plans, as well as range-wide management plans, such the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

Finally, the order directs the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality to organize a North American Wildlife Policy Conference in the next year and to develop a Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Plan with a 10-year agenda for meeting the goals of the executive order.

Although the executive order is not legally binding, many groups are thankful for the President’s recognition of the value of hunting, at a time when participation in the sport is decreasing.

Sources:  Casper Star-Tribune, Federal Register


BLM Sued Over Gas Drilling on Atlantic Rim 

In May 2007, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published its Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Atlantic Rim Natural Gas Field Development Project, a venture estimated to generate $6.4 billion through the drilling of 2,000 new natural gas wells in south central Wyoming. 

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), a national conservation organization, has responded by filing a lawsuit against the agency, claiming that the plan inadequately considers the effects on wildlife and habitat in the area.

The lawsuit specifically charges that the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act by not evaluating a broad range of plan alternatives.  The complaint also alleges that the BLM failed to analyze the cumulative effects of the drilling project.  Although the BLM’s Final EIS mentioned that the agency would reduce surface disturbances by burying pipe and power lines, TRCP did not feel the efforts would fully address the probable decline in mule deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope populations.

Before filing the lawsuit, TRCP submitted comments on the draft EIS and filed a protest with the Interior Board of Land Appeals, on which the board has yet to reply.

Source: E&E Publishing, LLC (Land Letter)


California Senate Bans Lead Bullets to Protect Condors 

On 14 May, the California Senate passed the Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act (Bill 821), which would ban hunters from using lead ammunition for big game and coyotes in condor range throughout central and southern California as of 1 July 2008.  The bill has yet to be signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA).

According to the American Bird Conservatory, 276 cases of lead poisoning have been documented among California condors, a devastating impact for a subspecies of less than 300 individuals.  The birds consume lead fragments as they scavenge bullet-shot carrion.  Condors are more sensitive to lead contamination than other birds of prey because they do not regurgitate foreign objects and thus retain bullet fragments in their system for longer periods of time.

The non-lead ammunition requirement is not expected to restrict hunting since lead-free alternatives are readily available in the form of copper and tungsten-tin-bismuth bullets.  To address the increased cost of these alternatives, the Condor Preservation Act contains a provision that would subsidize hunters for copper bullets, although a source of funding has yet to be established.

Condor recovery efforts have greatly improved the species’ status since 1987 when only 22 birds existed in the wild, yet condors are still unable to survive without the assistance of humans.  Reduced use of lead ammunition could eliminate the need for expensive and unsustainable de-leading programs and help the condor live independently of human intervention.

California’s Fish and Game Commission is currently discussing whether it should support regulation of non-lead ammunition and is currently accepting public comment on the issue.  Comments can be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090.  A final vote is planned for their October or November meeting. 

Sources: E&E Publishing, LLC (Land Letter), Center for Biological Diversity


Wyoming Revises Its Wolf Plan

In September, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) released a revised draft management plan for the state’s gray wolf population.  Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed to designate the Northern Rocky Mountain population of the gray wolf as a Distinct Population Segment, which would remove the wolves from the Endangered Species List.  The new WGFD plan incorporates guidance from the FWS and explores how gray wolves would be managed if federal protections were removed.

Wyoming plans have not received FWS approval in the past because of the state’s classification of wolves as predators, which allows them to be shot on sight.  Also, disagreements arose over the size of a management area where wolves are to be designated as trophy game animals.  Ultimately, the state agreed to the larger size recommended by biologists. 

The numerical and distributional recovery goal for the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act was set at 30 breeding pairs and at least 300 total wolves distributed among Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.  This goal was met in 2000; the current population is 1,300.

Under the July recommendations from the FWS, wolves that are found to be contributing to the declination of a wild ungulate population would be labeled as causing “unacceptable impacts.”  These recommendations are to replace a 2005 special rule, which specifies that wolves must be ranked as the primary cause of an ungulate population decrease before being so labeled.  The federal government may legally destroy wolves causing “unacceptable impacts” after a peer-review and a public commenting period. 

WGFD, which is seeking public comment on the new plan through October 10th, will review suggestions and adopt a final wolf management plan at its November 15-16 meeting.  The FWS could de-list the wolves as early as next year.  However, the state plan will not go into affect until a pending lawsuit filed by Wyoming over FWS's rejection of its original management plan is resolved.

Sources:  Billings Gazette, E&E Publishing, LLC (Greenwire, Land Letter), Federal Register, Wyoming Game and Fish


BLM Enforces Categorical Exclusions 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has made official a number of Categorical Exclusions (CX) to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  The new exclusions, which were proposed in January 2007 and finalized in August, will allow the BLM to forgo the environmental review process required by NEPA for activities that have repeatedly resulted in findings of no significant individual or cumulative impacts. 

According to the BLM, the CXs would save time while upholding the same environmental standards.  CXs have traditionally been used for activities such as expanding campgrounds or installing administrative buildings.  The use of CXs is often controversial, as the purpose of NEPA is to ensure that federal actions consider environment impacts.    

The following actions can now forgo environmental review before and after implementation, under the BLM’s Department Manual:

  • Geophysical exploration of oil, gas, or geothermal resource when no temporary or new road construction is proposed.
  • Felling, bucking, and scaling sample trees (no more than one tree per acre) that does not involve any road or trail construction, use of ground-based equipment, or any other manner of timber yarding (applies to Oregon only).
  • The harvest of no more than 70 acres of live trees that requires no more than one half-mile of temporary road construction. 
  • The harvest of no more than 250 acres of dead or dying trees that requires no more than one half-mile of temporary road construction. 
  • The harvest of no more than 250 acres of trees to control insects and disease that requires no more than one half-mile of temporary road construction. 
  • Vegetation management activities (seeding, thinning, prescribed fire, etc.) that are not within Wilderness areas or Wilderness Study areas and that do not include the use of chemical or biological treatments or the construction of new roads or infrastructure.
  • The issuance of livestock grazing permits/leases where the use is consistent with the previous permit/lease and where the current grazing allotment is meeting land health standards or not meeting them due to factors that do not include livestock grazing. 

Some environmental groups are disappointed with the changes, and concerns have been raised over the CXs that include seismic technology and grazing activities, both of which can be damaging to the environment.  Also of concern is that the exemption of projects from NEPA requirements will reduce the public’s opportunity to provide input and prevent a range of environmentally sound alternatives from being considered.

To view the BLM’s report on the CXs, go to http://www.blm.gov/planning/handouts/CX_Report-Geophysical_Exploration.pdf.

Sources:  Bureau of Land Management, E&E Publishing, LLC (Land letter, Greenwire), Federal Register, OMB Watch


Agriculture Secretary Retires to Run For Senate Office

After nearly three years of service, Mike Johanns resigned in September 2007 from his position as Agriculture Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Johanns served as governor of Nebraska from 1999-2005.  He recently began campaigning to replace retiring Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel (R).

Johanns’ resignation occurs in the midst of the Farm Bill reauthorization, a process in which the Secretary was deeply involved.  During development of the administration’s farm bill proposals in 2006, Johanns oversaw listening sessions with farmers from across the country.  He also played a central role in gaining support from farmers, agribusinesses, and Congress members for the administration’s goal of shifting away from traditional farm subsidies in farm bill programs.  The House integrated some of the administration’s proposals into the farm bill rewrite that it passed in July 2007, and the Senate is expected to do the same during their mark ups in October. 

Former Deputy Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner has been appointed to succeed Johanns.  Before joining the USDA in 2005, Conner served as one of the White House’s chief agriculture advisers.  He has been a key player in farm bill negotiations on Capitol Hill, representing the administration in committee hearing testimonies and late-night markup sessions in the House Agriculture Committee.

Although Johanns’ departure comes at a busy time for the USDA, the transition to Conner is expected to run smoothly.  Both President Bush and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) have praised Conner for his contributions to the farm bill reauthorization process and are pleased with the new appointment.

Sources: E&E Publishing, LLC (Greenwire and Land Letter), Congresspedia


Congressional Actions Benefit International Wildlife

Congress is currently working on several bills that would provide aid to a wide variety of international wildlife programs.  Two Senate bills, the State and Foreign Operations Bill (H.R. 2764) and the Tropical Rainforest Conservation Act of 2007 (S. 2020), and two bills in the House of Representatives, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2007 (H.R.1464) and the Crane Conservation Act (H.R.1771), would funnel federal dollars to conservation programs for imperiled species and habitats.

The State and Foreign Operations Bill, as passed out of the Senate in September, totals $34 billion in funding.  A portion of these funds would give incentives for development that does not hamper biodiversity while jumpstarting several overseas conservation programs:

  • $1 billion for the International Development Association, and an additional $195 million for other development assistance programs in developing countries, only to be used on projects that would not contribute to significant tropical forest or biodiversity loss.
  • At least $195 million for clean energy and climate change programs in developing countries, with no less than $125 million going towards the promotion and distribution of clean energy technologies.
  • $107 million for the Global Environment Facility, an international organization that provides grants for environmental projects in developing countries.
  • $5 million for programs to protect biodiversity in Colombia’s national parks and indigenous reserves.
  • $5 million for watershed remediation and reforestation in Haiti.
  • $3 million for foreign biodiversity programs toward wildlife conservation and protected area management in the Boma-Jonglei landscape of Southern Sudan.

 President Bush has threatened to veto this bill because a separate provision included in the legislation would provide funding for overseas family planning organizations.

The Tropical Rainforest Conservation Act of 2007 (S. 2020), otherwise known as the Debt-for-Nature bill, was passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with unanimous approval on 11 September 2007.  A debt-for-nature swap occurs when a portion of a nation’s debt is forgiven if that same amount is put toward environment protection.  The new bill, introduced by Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Joe Biden (D-DE), would authorize $20 million through 2008 and up to $30 million by 2010 to expand the Tropical Rainforest Conservation Act of 1998 to include coral reef protections. 

A similar bill in the House (H.R. 2185), sponsored by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), is awaiting a vote under suspension of the rules, a special procedure used to speed up the voting process by holding debates to no more than forty minutes and prohibiting amendments.  A two-thirds majority is required for passage.

In the House, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2007 (H.R. 1464) would include species of rare cats and canids in the Interior Department’s Multinational Species Conservation Fund, which currently pays for international conservation programs for species of elephants, apes, tigers, and rhinos.  Cat and canid species listed under the IUCN Red List, the Endangered Species Act, or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species would benefit from international projects funded in part by the Interior Department.

The Crane Conservation Act (H.R. 1771), sponsored by Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) would fund projects to help improve the viability of crane populations, which are experiencing worldwide declines.  The bill would rely on offsets from other areas of the Interior budget rather than new taxpayer dollars.  Russ Feingold (D-WI) has introduced a similar bill in the Senate (S. 1048).

Sources: E&E Publishing, LLC (E&E Daily), The Nature Conservancy, Wisconsin News



Farm Bill:  Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) predicts the farm bill will not be passed out of the Senate until mid-December and plans on extending the current Farm Bill one month through a continuing resolution.  Under Harkin’s bill, some traditional commodity subsidies will be cut in order to funnel funds into conservation and nutrition.  The House passed its own version of the farm bill in August. 
See WPN Vol. 17, Issue 4, Article 11.

Appropriations: The 2008 federal fiscal year began on 1 October, but Congress has yet to pass any 2008 appropriations bills.  In late September, Congress passed a "continuing resolution" (P.L. 110-92) to maintain FY07 program funding levels until 16 November.
See WPN Vol. 17, Issue 4, Article 10.

Sources: E&E Publishing, LLC (E&E Daily)


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