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.
The Federal subsistence regulations are changed through a public process that begins with a call for proposals and culminates in a Federal Subsistence Board meeting, during which the Board acts on proposed changes.
Here is how the process works:
Step 1 (Jan.–Mar.)
A Proposed Rule is published in the Federal Register. It consists of the existing Federal subsistence regulations for fisheries or wildlife harvest (hunting or trapping) and asks the public to propose changes (proposals) to the existing regulations. The Proposed Rule is issued in January and proposals are accepted for approximately 45 days. The fisheries Proposed Rule is published in even numbered years. The wildlife Proposed Rule is published in odd numbered years.
Step 2 (Apr.–May)
Proposals are reviewed by staff and validated to ensure that they fall within the authority of the Federal Subsistence Board. Valid proposals are compiled in a book, which is made available to the public and the tribes for information and comment. The public comment period is usually open for 60 days.
Step 3 (Apr.–Aug.)
Proposals are analyzed by federal staff. A draft analysis with preliminary conclusion for each proposal is written, considering received public comments and with input from:
Federal and state biologists
Federal and state social scientists
The federal Interagency Staff Committee
State of Alaska
At times subsistence users and others are directly consulted about the implications of the proposals.
Step 4 (Aug.–Oct.)
The affected Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Council(s) reviews the draft proposal analyses at their annual fall meeting. The Council(s) makes recommendations based on its knowledge of the resources and subsistence practices in the area, and testimony received during the meeting. Recommendations are to:
Support with modifcation
Defer until later
Step 5 (Jan.)
The Federal Subsistence Board meets to take action on the proposals. During the meeting, the Board reviews the proposal analyses, Council recommendations, and hears public testimony. The Board shall consider the recommendations of the Regional Advisory Councils concerning the taking of fish and wildlife on public lands within their respective regions.
The Board may choose not to follow any Regional Council recommendation which it determines is not supported by substantial evidence, violates recognized principles of fish and wildlife conservation, would be detrimental to the satisfaction of subsistence needs, or in closure situations, for reasons of public safety or administration or to assure the continued viability of a particular fish or wildlife population. If a recommendation is not adopted, the Board shall set forth the factual basis and the reasons for the decision, in writing, in a timely fashion.
The Board can:
Adopt with modification or
Defer until later.
Step 6 (Apr. 1 and Jul. 1)
Proposals adopted by the Board become part of the Final Rule, which is published in the Federal Register. The Final Rule contains the regulations, which are in effect for the next two year period. The fisheries regulations are effective April 1; the wildlife harvest regulations are effective July 1.
A public booklet of the regulations is published and distributed statewide. The booklet includes regulations and other information relevant to the Federal Subsistence Management Program.