\ SOUTHWEST BIODIVERSITY ALERT #133 /
\ 5-21-98 /
\ SOUTHWEST CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY /
1. HISTORIC MOMENT FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES: TUCSON REJECTS
PROPOSAL TO HARM ENDANGERED SPECIES, UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES
ENVIRO DESERT PROTECTION PLAN
2. ANOTHER FOREST SERVICE BIOLOGISTS QUITS, RIPS GRAZING AND
LOGGING PRACTICES IN SOUTHWEST
3. BEGINNING OF THE END FOR PUBLIC LAND RANCHERS?
MEETING SCHEDULED TO DEVELOP PROPOSAL TO BUYOUT SOUTHWEST'S
MOST IMPORTANT NATIONAL FOREST GRAZING ALLOTMENTS
***** ***** ***** *****
HISTORIC MOMENT FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES: TUCSON REJECTS PROPOSAL
TO HARM ENDANGERED SPECIES, UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES ENVIRO
DESERT PROTECTION PLAN
The infamous Cactus ferruginous pygmy owl sent its biggest
shock wave yet through a crowd of stunned developers at the
4-19-98 Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting. The
supervisors overwhelmingly rejected a U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service backed proposal to develop a plan (HCP) which would
allow developers to kill pygmy owls and bulldoze their habitat
in exchange for nebulous "mitigation." Instead, the supervisors
unanimously adopted the Sonoran Desert Protection Plan which
was drafted by the Southwest Center on behalf of a coalition of
31 environmental groups. Unlike an HCP, the Sonoran Desert
Protection Plan establishes a process which will conserve large
swaths of desert without allowing endangered species and their
habitats to be destroyed.
HCPs are the favored tool of the Clinton/Babbitt administration
for dealing with endangered species on private land. They allow
endangered species and their habitats to be destroyed in return
for "mitigation" which is rarely if ever adequate. In the past
few years, Babbitt has locked up millions of acres in HCPs,
effectively overriding or replacing recovery plans for dozens of
endangered species, even though HCPs are not required to advance
species recovery in any way. Combined with Babbitt's illegal No
Surprises policy, HCPs essentially give up protection of endangered
species on private land. The Sonoran Desert Protection Plan, by
contrast, is expressly designed to help recover the critically
endangered Cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, the Pima pineapple cactus
and other species.
The Supervisor's unanimous vote fundamentally rejects Babbitt's
message that the public must accept harm of endangered species in
exchange for regional conservation planning. The Board has instead
exhibited a willingness never before shown in the West to examine
new methods of regional conservation planning and cooperation.
ANOTHER FOREST SERVICE BIOLOGISTS QUITS, RIPS GRAZING AND LOGGING
PRACTICES IN SOUTHWEST
Renee Galeano-Popp, a 20 year veteran Forest Service biologist
resigned her position on the Lincoln National Forest in southern
New Mexico. On 4-13-98 she sent a letter to the new regional
forester and the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service decrying the
abuses of livestock grazing and logging in the Southwest. Popp
"I totally agree with the outgoing deputy Forest Supervisor who
said range management is a corpse on life support and no one will
pull the plug...Motivation to get the job done appears to come
and go with litigation...The Integrated Resource Management (or
NEPA/NFMA) process is not alive and well in this region and
certainly is not even alive on the Lincoln NF...the situation is
in total discord...nature of the accountability system, the line
organization, the tolerances and the reward system we have are not
working to get the American public and the earth's biodiversity what
they deserve...It is within the realm of feasibility that a serious
reform in Region 3 could stop some, if not all, of the lawsuits...."
Excerpts for the letter are presented below, the full letter is
available on the Southwest Center's whistle blower web page:
On April 27, 1998 I resigned from my position as a wildlife
biologist on the Lincoln NF after 20 years of employment, all
in Region 3. I resigned for personal reasons related to job
stress, resulting from what I believe is gross mismanagement of
people and natural resources. I have decided to share some of
them with you in hopes that you can affect them.
My resignation from the Forest Service came on the heels of 6
months work to evaluate the effects of on-going livestock
authorizations on threatened and endangered species. During this
process, it became vividly clear that the FS has trouble doing
what it knows is right and best. For example, implementation of
allowable use monitoring has been exceedingly slow...Despite
on-going litigation pressure, not only haven't these been
implemented, FS management is still finding ways to avoid and
delay doing so...
During the range assessment, I expressed concern about the adequacy
and consistency of proposed allowable use monitoring for some range
allotments with federally listed species. On April 10, 1998 I was
told in no uncertain terms by the Forest Supervisor: (1) not to
question any range conservationist's proposed actions (regardless of
content or quality) and (2) to ignore information that management does
not have the capacity to implement the proposed actions. I believe
this was intimidation to do my job professionally. I should not be
asked to sign a biological assessment with my professional credibility
on the line, that is based on unclear, erroneous, unprofessional or
inconsistent information. My resignation came less than 3 weeks later...
When working on range allotment management plans, I requested
contemporary field data about the vegetative conditions when
data were over 30 years old. This was received as heresy. I
was told that I was out of bounds to tell another professional
when he should collect data. I totally agree with the outgoing
deputy Forest Supervisor who said range management is a
corpse on life support and no one will pull the plug.
Motivation to get the job done appears to come and go with
litigation. When the region was under litigation regarding the
retroactive nature of LMP decisions, the proposed action for
the biological assessment was to implement allowable use on
all allotments on the Lincoln NF. When the region was upheld
in court that LMP standards are mainly prospective, the proposed
action changed to implement allowable use with new decisions
only. If it was feasible before, why change? If we know this is
right and best for the ecosystem, why should I have to "fight"
to get this proposed on allotments with endangered species as a
minimum, which are only about half or less of the LNF allotments?
Despite on-going regional litigation, the Forest seems to maintain
a business as usual attitude. For example, allotments which were
vacant and without permittees during the last year were stocked by
new permittees this year, even though the Forest Service had
knowledge that: a ) grazing would not be in compliance with the ESA
and b) that the district did not have the resources to implement
allowable use monitoring. This is outrageous. In my opinion,
allowable use monitoring is the cost of responsible stewardship.
It is the cost of authorizing cattle on public land in the first
The Integrated Resource Management (or NEPA/NFMA) process is not
alive and well in this region and certainly is not even alive on
the Lincoln NF....Specialist input is not used in developing
proposed actions and any input that detracts from proposed
actions is either ignored or watered down. I came to the FS as a
specialist believing we were all commissioned to work together as
professionals,to prescribe what is best for the land while also
serving people's needs. What I found was each functional area
devises their own ideas and then pushes them up through a more-
or-less political system....
Ellie, this situation results in total discord. How can we defend
actions to the public if we are not united (or even coordinated!)
as a group of professionals?...
The Sacramento Salvage is an example of how the LNF manages priorities
and land. (1) Instead of conceiving proposed actions based on
current conditions and short and long term goals for an area, it was
conceived as an opportunity to cut trees anywhere possible. (2) The
ID Team was told to find 2 million board feet of salvage (dead or
dying trees), in response to insect and disease outbreaks on one
district. Although not a very large or complicated project, the team
floundered for lack of direction, guidance, and priority setting...
I believed Jack Ward Thomas and others who said the Forest Service is
the "premiere conservation agency in the world". Yet in 20 years, I
have yet to see us put our best foot forward. Don't get me wrong,
Ellie, I understand the complexities of our work. But what we are
desperately lacking is a bottom line ( a "company line") that the FS
will stand for at all times. Does the natural resource come first or
doesn't it? Was Ecosystem Management (EM) really a passing fad?
Customer service does not equate with good resource management, but
at least it would provide a basis for decisions.
In reality, we have the company line already and there is nothing
wrong with it. We have a mission. We have laws, regulations and
policies. What we lack is the implementation of that company line.
I used to think the problem was people and I had alot of disdain for
individuals. But I've come to believe that it is really the system.
The de-centralized agency structure, nature of the accountability
system, the line organization, the tolerances and the reward system
we have are not working to get the American public and the earth's
biodiversity what they deserve.
It is within the realm of feasibility that a serious reform in Region 3
could stop some, if not all, of the lawsuits. That would allow the FS
to get on with its mission...
BEGINNING OF THE END FOR PUBLIC LAND RANCHERS?
MEETING SCHEDULED TO DEVELOP PROPOSAL TO BUYOUT SOUTHWEST'S MOST
IMPORTANT NATIONAL FOREST GRAZING ALLOTMENTS
Facing a huge flux of endangered species listings, grazing litigation,
agency reform efforts, and public outcry against overgrazing, some
ranchers in the Gila River Basin are ready to sell out and move on.
On June 10th at 7:30pm, the Arizona Grazing Clearing House will
host a meeting to develop a plan to buyout National Forest grazing
allotments which are critical to endangered species, biodiversity, and
streamside habitats. The meeting will take place at the Sierra Club's
state headquarters at 516 E. Portland in downtown Phoenix, AZ.
Kieran Suckling firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director 520.623.5252 phone
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity 520.623.9797 fax
http://www.sw-center.org pob 710, tucson, az 85702-710