wildlife policy news

Volume 20, Issue 3, May 2010

Editor: Laura M. Bies

Reporters: Emily Boehm, Joshua Kurtz, and Grant Sizemore

Get The Wildlife Policy News (v20, i3) 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 at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

In this Issue:

  1. Colorado Submits Roadless Area Petition
  2. FWS to Develop Revised CCP for ANWR
  3. National Park Service Approves Benefits Sharing
  4. Report Examines Gender Gap in Science
  5. Helicopter Flights over Grizzly Habitat Halted
  6. Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2010 Introduced
  7. Oberstar Introduces America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act
  8. News Updates
  9. TWS Update

Colorado Submits Roadless Area Petition

In April, Colorado submitted a petition for federal approval revising roadless area protection in the state. The plan would protect 4.2 million acres of national forest land but makes exceptions for certain skiing, mining, and fuel reduction practices. The Forest Service will reevaluate the current environmental impact statement for the petition to accommodate changes in the latest version.

Although the petition prohibits road construction for oil and gas projects leased after the effective start date of the rule, it may open the door for close to 100 leases issued since 2001. These leases were halted by the Forest Service in 2006 but will be able to move forward under the new rule. Three existing coal mines will be allowed to drill methane vents in order to expand into 0.5% of total protected land area. Another 0.2% of the protected area would be available for development under 14 existing ski permits. Together, these two exceptions would open around 30,000 acres to development, out of the 4.2 million protected. In addition, the plan allows fuel-removal in forests within 0.5 mile from a residential area, to reduce fire risk.

Reactions to the proposed plan have been mixed, with some praising the balance of protection with Colorado’s particular needs, while others protest the creation of a special plan for any one state, advocating instead for the re-institution of the 2001 nationwide roadless rule. Put into place near the end of the Clinton administration, the 2001 roadless rule provides uniform protection for approximately 58 million acres of federal land across the country. Under changes to the rule established during the Bush administration, states may submit their own petitions for roadless area protection. Colorado and Idaho are the only states to use this option to date. Read the petition online

Sources: E&E Publishing LLC (LandLetter), Heritage Forest Campaign, Pew Environment Groups, Colorado Department of Natural Resources

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FWS to Develop Revised CCP for ANWR

On 7 April 2010, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced plans to develop a revised comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The purpose of the CCP is to provide refuge managers with a management plan for the Refuge consistent with sound principles of fish, wildlife, and habitat management and conservation. As part of the CCP process, additional areas may be recommended for inclusion within the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS), increasing protection for these areas.

There are several opponents to the increase of designated wilderness areas in the ANWR, including Alaska Senators Mark Begich (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R) and the American Petroleum Institute. The inclusion within the NWPS would restrict drilling in these areas, believed to be the largest onshore deposit of hydrocarbons in the U.S. and containing approximately 10.3 billion barrels of oil.

FWS will convene a public scoping meeting 4 May at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. to receive public comment on the CCP. Several local meetings will be announced ten days prior to being held in multiple locations in Alaska. FWS is accepting public comment on the issues that should be considered in the revised CCP through email to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it before 7 June 2010.

Sources: Federal Register, E&E Publishing LLC (E&E News PM)

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National Park Service Approves Benefits Sharing

On 6 April 2010, the National Park Service (NPS) announced a finalized Record of Decision that allows the public to receive some benefits from innovations derived through research done on public lands. Recently signed by NPS Director Jon Jarvis, the Record of Decision completes the planning process that began with Benefits Sharing Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which was completed by NPS in late 2009. The FEIS evaluated impacts of benefit sharing throughout the parks, finding no negative impact. The benefits sharing plan will not change or revise rules on commercialization of resources within the parks or the research permitting process.

Debates over benefit sharing stem from discoveries made by bioprospecting, the search for organisms that may lead to scientific breakthroughs in chemistry or medicine. For example, in the 1980s a bacteria species discovered in Yellowstone helped make DNA testing significantly more practical. The commercialization of this species created monetary gain for the discoverer but not the Park Service.

The new policy would allow the parks to benefit from similar discoveries, such as a recently discovered enzyme that breaks down leukemia cells, by receiving non-monetary or monetary considerations from the commercialization of such an organism or product manufactured from that organism. These funds would be used for the conservation and protection of resources managed by NPS.

Sources: E&E Publishing LLC (Greenwire), National Park Service

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Report Examines Gender Gap in Science

Earlier this year, AAUW (formerly known as the American Association of University Women) released “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math,” a report concluding that women are underrepresented in those fields due to social and cultural influences, not innate differences in ability when compared to men. The report draws data from eight research projects to support its findings, which suggest that implicit biases and environmental factors discourage women from attaining the highest levels in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

In recent years girls have narrowed the achievement gap in math SAT scores. And although the report says that boys and girls take about the same number of math and science classes in high school and are equally prepared to study those subjects in college, fewer women graduate with STEM degrees. Fewer still go on to graduate school and professions in these areas; men continue to far outnumber women in STEM fields, particularly in upper-level positions like university professorships. The research cited in the report shows that from elementary school to college to the professional world, encouraging girls’ interest in math, offering training in spatial skills, and creating a supportive environment can increase women’s success and participation in STEM areas. One study found that when teachers tell girls that they have the potential to improve through education and experience, they are more likely to pursue and succeed in STEM fields.
Read the entire report online

Source: AAUW

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Helicopter Flights over Grizzly Habitat Halted

A proposal to undertake aerial spraying of the invasive spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) was rejected by a federal judge on 30 March 2010 after a lawsuit was filed by the Alliance for Wild Rockies. The US Forest Service had requested permission to use low-flying helicopters for herbicide application, but the judge denied the request pending more investigation into how those flights might affect grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) in Montana’s Kootenai National Forest.

The plaintiffs argued that the 40 bears that make up the grizzly population in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem in northwestern Montana and Northern Idaho might be stressed and displaced by helicopter flights in the process of spraying spotted knapweed. Grizzly bear biologist Chris Servheen, faculty at the University of Montana and Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, acknowledged that information on how bears might respond is limited, but the evidence to date is that recurring flights over a site would be a concern for the bears. The proposed herbicidal application would not be a recurring activity.

A spokesperson for the Kootenai National Forest commented that the recent decision is not a setback in their efforts to control spotted knapweed because funding for those flights was not available anyway. Ground-based applications will continue as planned.

Sources: E&E Publishing LLC (Land Letter)

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Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2010 Introduced

Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced the Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2010 (S.3146) on 22 March. The bill is designed to provide private landowners with tax incentives to protect the habitats of threatened and endangered species and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

The bill’s co-authors include Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Cornyn (R-TX), James Risch (R-ID), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Jon Tester (D-MT). It would provide habitat protection easement credits and habitat restoration credits to private landowners, in essence making them partners in habitat restoration and endangered species conservation.

This bill follows the Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2007, also introduced by Senator Crapo. Although the Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2007 did not pass on its own, language from that bill was included in the 2008 Farm Bill. While the Farm Bill provided tax deductions for endangered species recovery efforts, the current bill will provide tax credits.

See the Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2010 in its entirety.

Sources: S.3146, Representative Mike Crapo

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Oberstar Introduces America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act

Representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN) introduced the America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act (H.R 5088) calling for congressional commitment to the conservation of America’s waterways and wetlands systems benefitting the public.

Recent Supreme Court rulings allowed dumping of fill and dredge material into wetlands not directly connected to navigable waterways and took a stricter definition of “navigable” waterways than had been interpreted in the Clean Water Act. Provisions in Oberstar’s bill would protect the waterways that were covered prior to these decisions by adding a more specific definition of the “waterways of the United States” that more closely follows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers definitions and deleting the term “navigable.”

The bill is designed to achieve three goals: protect America’s drinking water, conserve fish and wildlife habitat, and encourage economic growth. EPA found that 117 million Americans get their drinking water from waterways in jeopardy of losing protection under the Clean Water Act. Wetlands and estuaries provide sheltered breeding areas for several economically important and rare species of waterfowl, fish, and shellfish but are not considered navigable under the recent interpretations of the Clean Water Act. In 2006, hunting and fishing in waterways that may lose protection generated $2.6 billion dollars, and in 2007, boating in these areas generated over $100 billion.

Sources: H.R. 5088, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

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News Updates

Science Funding Clears Subcommittee: On 14 April 2010, a House of Representatives Science and Technology Subcommittee approved $47.5 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) over the next five years, all as part of the larger reauthorization efforts for the 2007 America COMPETES legislation (H.R. 4997), which would put the NSF on track to double its 2006 budget by 2015. The bill now moves to the full committee for approval.

Source: E&E Publishing LLC (E&E Daily)

Wind Turbine Guideline Advisory Committee Recommendations: On 23 April 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported the recommendations of the Wind Turbine Guideline Advisory Committee to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. The committee’s recommendations aim to protect wildlife during wind energy development and production. The document, as well as a list of committee members, can be found here.
See WPN, Volume 20, Issue 2, Number 6

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Forest Service Planning Rule Regional Meetings: The U.S. Forest Service has announced a series of meetings to take place in April and May 2010 to allow for public input on the development of a new planning rule. Contributions from these meetings, along with comments submitted on the Notice of Intent, will also help draft an environmental impact statement (EIS). The proposed rule and EIS are expected to be released in December 2010. A list of dates, times, and locations for regional meetings may be found here.
See WPN, Volume 20, Issue 1, Number 4

Source: U.S. Forest Service

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TWS Update

Wildlife Policy News Moves to Monthly Format: In an effort to provide Society members with more up-to-date policy news, the WPN will now be published every month. (Click here to see archives.) Please contact WPN editor This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it if you have questions or comments regarding the change.

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