|From left to right, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Mexico's Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada and Mexico's Ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan. [Photo Credit: Tami Heilemann/DOI]
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne met yesterday with his Mexican counterpart, Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, the Mexican Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, to discuss continued cooperation on conservation efforts between the two countries. The officials discussed common areas of concern and possible new opportunities for cooperation as well as their desire to further already flourishing cooperative efforts ranging from water management on the Colorado River Basin to the successful sister parks program.
Assistant Secretary, Land and Minerals Management, C. Stephen Allred; Commissioner of Bureau of Reclamation, Robert Johnson; and National Park Service Director, Mary Bomar also participated in the meeting. Arturo Sarukhan, the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, accompanied Secretary Elvira as well as a delegation that included the Director of the National Institute of Ecology, Adrian Fernández.
Secretary Kempthorne congratulated the members of the Mexican delegation on the recent inscription of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve to the World Heritage List. “Through the hard work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and its Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico Program, the United States has helped the Reserve provide refuge for monarch butterflies and I look forward to their continuing that migration for generations to come,” said Secretary Kempthorne. Last week, the USFWS awarded $562,000 in grants to support the conservation of Mexican wildlife species, including monarch butterflies. Secretary Elvira thanked Secretary Kempthorne and the Department of the Interior for their support of the World Heritage designation.
Secretary Kempthorne and Ambassador Sarukhan highlighted the ongoing good work and constructive dialogue on Colorado River water management that was a direct result of their last meeting and the joint statement issued in August of 2007.
Both parties expressed a desire to establish a more detailed framework for further cooperation.
Among the other topics of discussion and examples of thriving areas of collaboration between the United States and Mexico is the management and conservation of migratory birds and wetlands. In 2008, the USFWS will spend more than $1.4 million to conserve some of the 341 species of neotropical migratory birds in Mexico. This amount will be matched by more than three times that amount in partner funds. In Fiscal Year 2008, the USFWS has funded $3.5 million in wetlands conservation projects in Mexico, which resulted in a total of $5.5 million in partner contributions.
Regarding the Government of Mexico’s May 2005 petition to delist the
Morelet’s crocodile, currently listed as endangered under the Endangered
Species Act, Secretary Kempthorne said the following: “We appreciate
the scientific data provided by Mexico in support of this delisting request. This
has facilitated our ability to review the status of the species. Our
commitment is to publish a 12-month finding and proposed 4(d) rule (if warranted)
sometime very soon.”