For Immediate Release, October 17, 2015
Contact: Lisa Belenky, (415) 385-5694
California Agreement Between Feds, State Lacks Safeguards for Net Benefit for Wildlife
LOS ANGELES— The federal Bureau of Land Management and the state of California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday that they have entered into an agreement to cooperate with each other to conserve biological and natural resources on federal public lands administered by the BLM within California.
“Providing opportunities to support robust conservation at a landscape level is a laudable goal when coupled with conservation planning, but it can’t operate in a vacuum,” said the Center for Biological Diversity’s Lisa Belenky. “Unfortunately, because the agreement was decoupled from the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan and other plans, it lacks the implementation details and safeguards to ensure that mitigation actions on federal public lands provide a net benefit to species.”
The agreement was prompted by the desire for the agencies to coordinate approval of mitigation actions taken on federal public lands to meet California state mitigation requirements for impacts to plants and animals and their habitats resulting from development. It builds on an earlier agreement for the California desert developed as part of the ongoing planning efforts for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.
“Development of wildlife habitat is always a loss,” Belenky said. “Where impacts are unavoidable, mitigation must provide a genuine net benefit to the affected plants and animals. Mitigation actions should be prioritized through conservation-planning efforts. The tools outlined in the agreement have the potential to provide for outstanding and durable mitigation opportunities on our federal public lands, but the devil will be in the details of its implementation to ensure the actions are truly additive and enduring, and do not bypass critically needed mitigation actions on private lands.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.