Posted on 20 October 2011.
The Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, California.
BREAKING: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar sets a course for conservation in new vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife’s president and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, welcomed the Obama administration’s effort to frame a new conservation vision for the more than 150 million acres that make up America’s National Wildlife Refuge System.
The new vision document released by the Interior Department today gives refuge officials a roadmap for managing these special conservation lands to address emerging threats and challenges such as climate change that weren’t considered in 1999 when the last refuge system vision statement was put in place.
The following is a statement from Defenders’ President, Jamie Rappaport Clark:
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s updated vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System will help ensure that it continues to anchor the conservation of our nation’s wildlife heritage in the face of the rapid transformations in the environment and in our society. Climate change was not a central concern in wildlife management when the last refuge vision statement was developed in the late 1990’s, but it certainly is a major concern today. This new vision reflects that shift and charts a course for enhanced wildlife conservation in the 21st century.
“While the vision lights a way forward, the success of the document will be measured each day in the field, wildlife refuge by wildlife refuge. It’s up to all of us — conservation groups, ranchers, farmers, hunters, anglers, communities, and federal and state land management agencies — to ensure that this vision becomes a reality.
It’s up to all of us — conservation groups, ranchers, farmers, hunters, anglers, communities, and federal and state land management agencies — to ensure that this vision becomes a reality.
“This means working together to add new lands to the refuge system that promote the conservation of a wide diversity of wildlife; to ensure that refuges have the financial resources needed to protect wildlife and provide a high-quality experience for all Americans; and to adapt and modify the way we manage refuges to protect wildlife and habitat from the impacts of climate change.”
Posted in Features, Issues, Newsroom, Press Releases, Public Lands, Wildlife
Posted on 14 July 2011.
A photovoltaic solar array.
BREAKING: The Bureau of Land Management will further evaluate the potential impacts of solar energy development on public lands in six western states before finalizing its solar energy program, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today.
In particular, the BLM plans to provide in a supplemental draft programmatic Environmental Impact Statement more information on how solar projects will impact wild lands, wildlife, water and other environmental resources in proposed solar energy zones. In addition, the BLM is expected to make clear in the supplement its preference for locating solar projects in the zones and avoiding environmentally-sensitive landscapes.
“Guiding projects to areas with the least potential for conflict with wildlife, wild lands, and unique natural and cultural resources is the right approach to solar energy development,” said Jim Lyons, senior director for renewable energy with Defenders of Wildlife.
“Guiding projects to areas with the least potential for conflict with wildlife, wild lands, and unique natural and cultural resources is the right approach to solar energy development,” said Jim Lyons, senior director for renewable energy with Defenders of Wildlife. “And it is the most efficient way to increase the certainty that projects will be built. It is also extremely important that we move away from reviewing projects one by one across the landscape. Providing the flexibility to modify existing zones and identify new ones working with the solar industry, conservationists, utilities and investors is essential. The additional analysis proposed by Secretary Salazar will allow the Bureau of Land Management to find low risk places for solar power plants and avoid unnecessary conflicts. This is a ‘smart from the start’ strategy that should speed development of wildlife-friendly and environmentally-sound clean energy projects. We applaud the Secretary’s decision to move in this direction.”
BLM's solar energy program aims to guide development away from pristine desert landscapes.
To meet future energy demand, the supplemental draft EIS will also outline a process for identifying new zones, discuss incentives for developing in zones and describe a pathway to allow developers to apply for exemptions to build in low conflict areas outside of the zones.
Related: Learn more about Defenders’ work on renewable energy.
“We are encouraged that BLM is committed to finalizing the solar energy program in a timely manner so that solar development on public lands can move forward in an environmentally sound way,” said Johanna Wald, director of the Western Renewable Energy Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “By designing a program that favors solar development in energy zones, BLM is demonstrating that it’s committed to getting solar development right from the start. And by incorporating key improvements jointly recommended by major stakeholders –developers, utilities and conservation groups – BLM is contributing to the success of the solar industry and to the nation’s transition from fossil fuel to clean energy sources.”
Posted in Features, Issues, Newsroom, Press Releases, Public Lands, Renewable Energy, Southwest, West Coast
Posted on 07 July 2011.
Sec. Salazar agrees to weak Wyoming wolf plan
DOI OKs shoot-on-sight wolf management policy across most of state
BOISE, Idaho (July 7, 2011) – U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tentatively agreed today to a wolf management plan for Wyoming that will allow wolves to be shot on sight across most of the state. In a joint press conference with Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, Sec. Salazar said the Interior Department “agrees in principle” to allowing wolves to be killed without a permit for most of the year across most of state.
The following is statement from Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife:
“This action, if approved, would undo the successful recovery of wolves in the region, which was supported by millions of Americans. The principles that Gov. Mead and Sec. Salazar have agreed to seem no different than what had previously been proposed by Wyoming and rejected by both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the courts.
“The Governor has publicly stated that he plans an end-run around the Endangered Species Act to get Congress to ratify this plan and prevent any legal challenge. What a sad day it is for America’s wildlife and a stunning betrayal coming from our nation’s chief wildlife steward.”
According to the latest annual wolf report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wyoming has an estimated population of 343 wolves, including 97 wolves inside Yellowstone National Park. So far this year, there have been 11 confirmed wolf deaths, including five that were killed in response to livestock losses. As of June 16, only six cattle (out of 1.3 million statewide) and one sheep (out of 365,000 statewide) were confirmed as losses to wolves.
Read breaking coverage from the Casper Star-Tribune
See the latest Wyoming wolf population data from the 2010 USFWS annual report
Read the latest status report on wolves in Wyoming from the USFWS
Speak Out Against the Wyoming Wolf Kill Plan
Tell the Fish and Wildlife Service that you’re outraged by their capitulation to anti-wolf extremists in Wyoming. Then report back to us that you made the call.
Posted in Features, In the News, Press Releases, Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, Species at Risk, Wildlife, wolves
Posted on 11 January 2011.
Attendees of the 26th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference this weekend received some unexpected good news when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the proposal to create a new national wildlife refuge and conservation area to preserve the community’s ranching heritage and conserve the headwaters and fish and wildlife of the Everglades.
In this venture, the Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to protect approximately 150,000 acres of important environmental and cultural landscapes in the Kissimmee River Valley south of Orlando. In addition to improving water quality, the proposed conservation area and refuge would protect important habitat for 88 federal and state listed species, including the Florida panther, Florida black bear and whooping crane.
“The Greater Everglades is one of the most fascinating, biologically diverse areas of the world. Yet the region – as well as many endangered species who call it home – continues to face grave threats.”
This year, Defenders of Wildlife co-hosted the Everglades Coalition Conference, called Renewal of Life for the Everglades: Moving Forward Together. Florida representative Elizabeth Fleming, who moderated a discussion on safe passage for wildlife on busy roads, said of Salazar’s announcement, “We are thrilled with the plan to establish the Everglades Headwaters refuge. Defenders sees this as part of a much larger vision to conserve wildlife habitat in a significant area of interconnected lands that reach the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.”
Laurie Macdonald with Everglades champion and former FL Senator Bob Graham
During the conference, the Everglades Coalition outlined its conservation priorities for the year. This year’s goals include protecting key wildlife habitat, reducing water pollution and sustaining momentum on Everglades restoration jobs.
Defenders’ Florida director Laurie Macdonald moderated a plenary session on large-scale initiatives to protect the Greater Everglades ecosystem. She said, “The Greater Everglades is one of the most fascinating, biologically diverse areas of the world. Yet the region – as well as many endangered species who call it home – continues to face grave threats.”
“Now is the time to seize opportunities for coordinated federal, state and local action. Several large-scale planning initiatives are underway that, in concert with Everglades restoration plans, have the potential to preserve a network of public and private conservation lands that benefit not only wildlife but people as well.”
Read more about the threats facing America’s Everglades in a new Endangered Species Coalition report, “It’s Getting Hot Out There: Top 10 Places to Save for Endangered Species in a Warming World.”
Learn more about the Everglades Coalition.
Posted in Features, Florida Panther, Public Lands, Southeast
Posted on 06 January 2011.
Have you made your New Year’s resolution yet? Have you broken it yet? Looking for a new one? Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced in a press release today that the National Park Service will waive admission fees on 17 selected dates throughout 2011, and encouraged all Americans to make a New Year’s resolution to visit a national park this year.
Boulder Bridge in Rock Creek National Park
When I was growing up in southern Ontario, Canada, my parents would take the family on long walks on stunning trails in our hometown every Sunday. Even though you see your family every day, it’s surprising how much more you get to know each other when you take a break from life’s electronic distractions and share stories and discussions while surrounded by the beauty of nature. Now that I live in Washington, DC, I still put on my hiking shoes and walk the trails of the District’s beautiful Rock Creek Park.
If you’re free this January 17th, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis suggests visiting Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, where “visitors can literally walk in Dr. King’s footsteps.”
A cluster of giant sequoia trees at Sequoia & King Canyon National Parks
Have you ever wanted to see the giant sequoias in Sequoia & King Canyon National Parks? Or experience the vastness of the Grand Canyon? No matter what your experience level is as a hiker or a walking enthusiast, if you make exploring the national parks a part of 2011, I bet you’ll be happy you did. There’s probably a lovely national park near you — click here to find out!
The 2011 fee-free dates will be the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 15-17), National Park Week (April 16-24), the first day of summer (June 21), National Public Lands Day (September 24), and the weekend of Veterans Day (November 11-13).
Posted in Features, Public Lands
Posted on 06 December 2010.
Secretary Salazar's plan will not only threaten the future of wolves in the Northern Rockies—but the very foundation of the Endangered Species Act.
Think the Secretary of the Interior wouldn’t sell out our wolves and the Endangered Species Act?
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been negotiating directly with the governors of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and we now have strong reason to believe that he is going to promote legislative language to eliminate life-saving protections for wolves in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and portions of Washington, Oregon, and Utah.
Don’t let Secretary Salazar sell out our wolves and the Endangered Species Act. Write your senators and urge them to oppose this awful plan.
Under Salazar’s proposal, wolves would be delisted and lose federal protection. They would also no longer be subject to the ESA at any time or under any circumstances, except at the sole discretion of the Secretary of the Interior.
Hundreds of wolves—maybe more than a thousand—could die! Help save the lives of wolves and protect the Endangered Species Act. Please take action now.
Once the Endangered Species Act is weakened in such a way, it would invite further outrages… dealing a serious blow to the very foundation of the Act, the bedrock conservation law in this country.
We don’t have much time to stop Secretary Salazar’s plan. Please urge your senators to reject Interior Secretary Salazar’s backroom deal to remove protections for wolves and harm the ESA.
Posted in Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, Take Action, wolves