November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
Salazar, Mead Reaffirm Commitment toward Development of Landscape Level Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Strategy in the West
CHEYENNE, WY—Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead today convened a meeting with representatives from eight western states to discuss ongoing efforts to conserve the greater sage-grouse and identify next steps in implementing a landscape level strategy that will benefit the species while maintaining a robust economy in the West.
Participants discussed current strategies, challenges, and areas of collaboration for local, state, and federal governments to proactively address the needs of the species to ensure its long-term health and stability.
During the meeting, the attendees discussed developing a new working agreement that puts in place conservation actions and commitments to meaningfully address both the threats to the survival of the greater sage-grouse and the need of Westerners to enjoy multiple uses of their land and have reasonable predictability regarding regulatory requirements.
“Sagebrush habitat, with its open spaces, wildlife, and heritage, is iconic to the West and is at the root of many of our proud traditions,” Salazar said. “Protecting the health of this land and its wildlife, while also facilitating energy and other development in the right ways and the right places, is going to take strong, well-coordinated, comprehensive action by leaders at all levels. Today's meeting is a milestone in our efforts to accelerate and expand the smart, landscape-scale approaches that are already underway in many places.”
From Wyoming's Sage Grouse Initiative developed under the leadership of Governor Mead to the Bureau of Land Management's National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy, to the ongoing implementation of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Comprehensive Strategy, progress is being made to protect the species while ensuring that energy production, recreational access and other uses of federal lands continue.
“The goal of the Endangered Species Act is not to add to the list, but to protect the species so they never make it to the endangered species list,” Governor Mead said. “Partnering with private industry, agriculture and the federal government has allowed us to balance conservation of the sage-grouse with development and job creation while keeping the bird from being listed.”
A large ground-dwelling bird predominantly found in the West, the decline of the sage-grouse population has been a result of primary threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation due to energy development, wildfire, and invasive plant species. Based on a 12-month status review pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service determined that the listing of the species was warranted, but precluded by higher priorities. For a FWS fact sheet on the greater sage-grouse, please click HERE.
Meeting participants included: Bob Abbey, Bureau of Land Management Director; Dan Ashe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director; Marlene Finley, U.S. Forest Service Deputy Regional Forester; Dave White, Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief, as well as senior representatives from the states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.