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  #1  
Old June 30th, 2003, 16:19
Ed A. Stevens's Avatar
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Planned lawsuit against federal agencies for Desert Tortoise Protection

http://www.ridgecrestca.com/articles...ews/news04.txt

McQuiston announces support for planned lawsuit against federal agencies

Released to The Daily Independent

The QuadState County Government Coalition, an organization of six governments within four states in the Mojave desert region, announced today its intention to file a lawsuit against the United States Department of the Interior and two of its agencies (U,S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management) in order to correct violations of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) concerning the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) and its population in the Mojave desert. The QuadState members include Kern, Imperial and San Bernardino Counties in California; Washington County, Utah; Lincoln County, Nevada; and Mohave County, Arizona.

First District Supervisor Jon McQuiston and Second District Supervisor Don Maben represent Kern County on the QuadState Coalition. McQuiston has worked with the BLM for many years on land use planning and other issues, and he feels the recovery plan must undergo a new review to ensure its validity.

"When it comes to decisions, the BLM consistently falls back on the recovery plan, despite all the evidence that says that in the last decade and a half, it has been the respiratory disease and raven predation that have been having the greatest effects," McQuiston said. "Regretfully, after five years, we have no other recourse than to take legal action because these federal agencies continue to develop and implement faulty land management plans based on the un- reviewed recovery plan. Fish and Wildlife promised to update the recovery plan; they broke that promise."

Even with protections in place through the recovery plan there continue to be documented declines in the desert tortoise population, according to Maben.

"The Desert Tortoise Natural Area near California City has been protected since 1975 and we continue to see declines," Maben said. 'Even when they apply full and complete closure, it doesn't help."

The QuadState Coalition today filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to file an Endangered Species Act citizen suit. Specific reasons for pursuing this step, which is a precursor to filing litigation, include: 1) the failure of the Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct the monitoring and reassessments required by the Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan; 2) arbitrary decision-making by Fish and Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management related to federal land management decisions; 3) failure to minimize adverse socio- economic effects as part of the Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan,- 4) failure to use the best available science in rendering numerous federal agency decisions; and 5) other technical and procedural reasons outlined in the 60-day notification letter. In addition to challenging violations of the ESA, the notification also asserts claims under the Administrative Procedures Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, National Environmental Policy Act and other laws. "Past decisions made by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management will cause substantial problems in Kern County," McQuiston said. "Multiple use of public lands for mining, grazing, recreation, rock hounding, and off-road vehicle use has been greatly limited or eliminated,"

The QuadState County Government Coalition is a Joint Powers Agency formed in 1998 to provide a multi-county voice on federal natural resource management and public lands issues in the Mojave Desert region. The Coalition's intent is to ensure that federal land management regulations and programs related to the desert tortoise and other species protected under ESA are based on sound science and do not unreasonably preclude multiple-use concepts in the management of such lands. The QuadState members include Kern, Imperial and San Bernardino Counties, in California; Washington County. Utah; Lincoln County Nevada; and Mohave County, Arizona.


Copyright © 2003The Daily Independent.
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 08:05
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Ed, I have heard that one of the gov't agencies made some sort of deal with mexico to regulated duck hunting in mexico so as not to decimate the duck population when they are south for the winter. The other side of the deal was to make the raven a protected species because they play a role in some ancient religious ceremony or some thing. Does this have any validity?
If so, wouldn't that have an adverse effect on the desert tortoise population?

I wish I had more details or facts about this.

Also, some local fire and CDF guys tell me that a closure of the entire san bernardino forest is being planned for late july, early august because of fire danger. Any news on this?

Thanks, Dan
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 08:11
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This is the first I have heard of the Ravin topic (?).

Yes, the SNBF (all So Cal Forests) are preparing for severe fire danger precautions, including closure like that experienced late last year.

There is no "planned" or scheduled closure, although the first major fire incident will likely drive this result.
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 09:45
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I had heard of the raven thing from a guy who works with the california deer association. I'll try to get in touch with him to get more particulars. This guy is working with BLM, forest service, etc. to rehab guzzlers, and to locate guzzlers that are known to exist, but their whereabouts are not recorded or known. From what he tells me, someone's half witted scheme to remedy the problem of ravens eating the tortoises, is to remove the guzzlers in critical habitat areas to keep the ravens away, therefore eliminating tortoise predation. Reminds me of an urban myth of some south eastern state introducing alligators or crocs as a remedy for beaver overpopulation.

I'll try to find out more info on this.

Dan

Hopefully the forest will stay open until after the second weekend of august, as we have a trip planned for the Big Bear area!
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 10:44
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Fut the Wuck is a "Guzzler"? It"s not a '69 DeVille is it?
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Old July 2nd, 2003, 10:50
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It is a trough or water catcher used to retain rain water, or some are fed by a nearby spring. Used for a water source for animals in harsh environments.

Dan
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