[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Endangered Species Alert!!!

-- BEGIN included message

Contact your Congressional Senators and Representative!
Contact GREEN/Endangered Species Coalition at:  ktuerk@execpc.com for more information.

S.1180, the weakening Endangered Species Act reauthorization bill sponsored by Sen. Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID), may be brought to a vote on the Senate floor in conjunction with the private property rights bill early next week, or possibly as a RIDER on the Senate Interior Appropriations Bill!

The Senate Interior Appropriations Bill already has almost 20 confirmed anti-environmental riders! The House version currently has 5.  Other potential riders loom on the horizon. These appropriations riders have far-reaching implications for endangered species protections, National Parks, National Forests and other public lands, environmental laws and public participation.

In particular, four riders on the Senate bill would set dangerous precedents for endangered species protection: See Sec. 123, Sec. 337, Sec. 342 and Sec. 343 (See complete rider list which follows)

1) Contact your Senators and urge them to oppose S.1180.


S. 1180 does more to keep species on the endangered list than to get them off of it.  The cumulative effect of provisions of the Kempthorne bill will lead it to fail in what should be the central
mission of endangered species legislation, the science-based recovery and de-listing of threatened species.

S.1180 is supported by multinational mining, timber and oil corporations and developers.  S.1180 is opposed by religious leaders, grassroots church and synagogue organizations, hunting and sportfishing
groups, and EVERY nonprofit, grassroots conservation group in the US.

S. 1180 is being called ESAin't because:

*   It ain't got anything to do with the recovery of endangered fish, wildlife and plants;
*   It's backed by big developers and multinational mining, timber and oil corporations - and that's "No
*    It gives big developers and multinational mining, timber and oil corporations a 100 year loophole
      (HCPs/'no-surprises') that lets them destroy endangered species habitat until the year 2098;
*   It attempts to eliminate the checks and balances, public participation and accountability that help
     protect endangered fish, wildlife and plants from extinction;
*   It is extreme, irresponsible and promotes corporate profits at the expense of endangered fish, wildlife
     and plants.

2) Urge your Representative to cosponsor the Miller bill, HR 2351 if s/he hasn't already.
This ESA reauthorization bill will strengthen the ESA.  Contact ktuerk@execpc.com for fact sheets on this house bill.   

3) When you call, write or meet with your Senators and/or Representative, ask them to work to remove anti-environmental riders from the Interior Appropriations Bill.


Riders are Dirty Politics.  They put them on to spending bills because they know that the unpopular legislation would not withstand an open vote.

*  This Appropriations season is has seen the Most Anti-Environmental Riders Ever!  No other Congress in history has been so hell-bent on undermining environmental laws or creating an exemption for special interests.

*  The riders Go Against the Wishes of the People.  Americans want unspoiled wild places.


Sec. 117  BLM Mining Regulations -- would halt the review of the
current hardrock mining regulations (43 CFR 3809) until completion of
an 18-month National Academy of Sciences study on the effects of the
new regulations initiated by Secretary Babbitt in Jan. 1997.  The
Bureau of Land Management is currently required to conduct an
environmental impact study on the consequences of "3809" reform.  This
provision would delay the implementation of long-overdue mining reform.

Sec. 120  Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Regulations -- would
prohibit funds from being used to promulgate National Park Service
regulations to phase out commercial fishing in Glacier Bay National
Park, the largest protected marine ecosystem on the Pacific Coast of
North America.  This provision would effectively kill an ongoing
rulemaking action to address longstanding commercial fishing issues.
Although commercial fishing is prohibited in all national park units
unless specifically authorized this activity has been illegally
occurring in Glacier Bay for decades.

Sec. 123  Public Lands Grazing -- would allow the Bureau of Land
Management to reauthorize grazing permits without allotment specific
NEPA documents, Federal Land Policy Management Act analysis or
Endangered Species Act requirements through FY 1999 or until the Bureau
completes processing.  This provision provides an escape clause for the
BLM that allows it to delay the analysis required by law as recently
interpreted by the courts.

Sec. 126.  Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Road -- would authorize
construction of a $30 million dollar, 30-mile gravel road through
Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness, while waiving all
applicable environmental laws.  The proposed road would threaten a
variety of species that live on or migrate through the refuge.  This
proposal would set a precedent as the first new and permanent road
authorized through a designated wilderness area.  The legislation is
strongly opposed by conservationists, sportsmen, Alaskan natives,
taxpayer groups, and has drawn a veto threat from the White House.

Sec. 127.  Land Acquisition in Alaska -- would prohibit the Secretary
of Interior from expending any funds for land acquisition in Alaska
unless the Secretary first seeks to exchange unreserved public lands
for the parcel desired.  This language would impede the federal
government's ability to acquire inholdings from willing sellers in an
expeditious manner, thus jeopardizing rare opportunities to obtain key
private land parcels in such places as Denali National Park and Lake
Clark National Park.

Sec. 131.  Oil Royalties Rule -- would further delay the long awaited
Oil Valuation Rule from going into effect, thus allowing oil and gas
industries to dodge at least another $86 million in oil royalties until
October 1999.  The Oil Valuation Rule, which has been subject to more
than two years of comments and discussion was scheduled to go into
effect this summer.  This rider also offers an incentive for the
Minerals Management Service to weaken their rules because it allows the
moratorium on rule making to be shortened.

Sec. 321.  National Forest Planning -- would impose a funding
limitation to halt the revision of any new forest plans not currently
in progress until final or interim final regulations are adopted.
Concern is that in the hurry to promulgate regulations, approval may be
given to ones based upon previous, faulty draft rules issued earlier,
rather than upon recommendations now being developed by the independent
Committee of Scientists.  Sec. 322 halts funding to carry out strategic
planning under the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning
Act.  Sec. 329 exempts existing forest plans from current revision
deadlines outlined under the national Forest Management Act and the
Forests and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act.

Sec. 332.  Prescribed Burning -- would require efforts be made to
remove all "economically viable, commercial wood products" prior to
conducting prescribed burning in National Forests.  Prescribed fire is
necessary in forests throughout the West after decades of fire
suppression disrupted the natural fire cycles.   Normally, the larger,
more fire resistant trees survive to continue playing important roles
in the forest's biological processes.   Putting a price tag on all the
trees will naturally force the older and larger trees to be the first
to be logged since they have greater economic value.  Thus the rider
undermines the ecosystem restoration for which the burns were intended.

Sec. 335.  Trees for Stewardship Exchange -- would allow national
forests in Idaho and Montana, and one forest in Oregon, to contract
with private parties to do restoration work in forests.  While such
"stewardship" contracts promote good things like habitat restoration
and prescribed fires, this provision would fund the program through the
sale of trees rather than direct funding.  Thus, it encourages
increased logging.

Sec. 336.  Snow Basin Road -- would authorize $13.9 million to build a
three-mile road from Trappers Loop Highway up to Snow Basin Ski Area in
northern Utah.  In 1996, a rider on a parks bill enabled a developer to
acquire National Forest land through a land exchange in order to
develop a ski resort.  The ski area will be used for the winter
Olympics, which was the justification for allowing transfer of public
lands to the developer.  The developer plans to build private
condominiums as part of this "resort," realizing millions of dollars in
profits.  This rider increases the developer's windfall by allocating
federal funds to pay for an access road.  Although this access road is
required to satisfy Olympic site access requirements, ultimately it's a
hand-out to the developer.

Sec. 337.  Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project
(ICBEMP) -- would strip ICBEMP, a multi-agency planning document, of
any decision-making authority.  This rider also undermines the
Endangered Species Act when ICBEMP is incorporated into land management
plans.   Normally, when a plan is revised or amended, the Forest
Service or Bureau of Land Management must consult with the Fish and
Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service on whether the
changed plans affect endangered and threatened species such as salmon.
 This rider would take the "ecosystem" planning out of ICBEMP by
allowing such forest plan changes to be viewed in isolation.  It would
also allow site-specific activities such as timber sales to go forward
even if the cumulative effects of those activities would jeopardize a
listed species.  Finally, this rider would reduce any "jeopardy"
decision on the plan amendments to a "conditional jeopardy" status
while USDA and DOI review the decisions.

Sec. 338.  Logging in Tongass National Forest -- would mandate that the
Forest Service offer for sale, and allow the logging of, 90% of the
timber volume proposed by the Tongass Land Management Plan.  Moreover,
this rider contains a dangerous precedent setting provision that makes
this requirement legally enforceable.  The Forest Service would either
have, or be forced, to prepare 253 million board feet of timber for
sale next year, a nearly 150% increase compared to the amount of timber
actually purchased in FY 1997.

Sec. 340.  Timber Pricing in Alaska including Red Cedar -- would help
maintain the Tongass National Forest as the biggest money losing
National Forest by requiring all timber sold in Region 10 (Alaska)
utilize the antiquated residual value appraisal system.  Under that
system, the Forest Service determines the minimum bid required on a
timber sale by deducting all costs associated with logging,
transportation, manufacturing, as well as a generous profit and risk
margin the price an operator of average efficiency would be willing to
pay for that sale.  For Western Red Cedar the rider requires a profit
and risk deduction of at least 60%, which will encourage the logging of
more old-growth red cedar since this species tends to be less
merchantable before it is very old.

Sec. 342.  Grizzly Bear Reintroduction -- would prohibit the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service from expending money to reintroduce grizzly bears
into the Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem in Idaho and Montana.  The Service
is planning to begin reintroduction next summer.  In addition, the
Service would be prohibited from expending funds to complete section 7
consultations as required by the Endangered Species Act, on federal
activities affecting bears in the area.

Sec. 343.  Salmon Habitat in Columbia and Snake Rivers -- would
prohibit changes in the operation of any federally licensed dam in the
Columbia River basins without specific Congressional approval.  This
provision would severely restrict efforts to restore endangered and
threatened Pacific salmon by preventing conservation efforts under the
Endangered Species Act and other federal environmental statutes, if
such efforts would modify any existing commercial use of the Columbia
River basin including, hydropower, State water rights, irrigation,
water storage and flood control.


TITLE I:  Denali National Park and Preserve -- would overide portions
of a completed environmental impact study (EIS) on the development of
visitor use and resource protection facilities in Denali's front
country.  The EIS and final "development concept plan" called for the
closure of an existing gravel airstrip at the entrance of the park for
several reasons: to avert safety threats posed by the strip's close
proximity to the existing visitor use area, to allow for potential
expansion of the nearby Alaska Railroad depot, and to accommodate the
potential construction of a park visitor facility and discovery center.
 These concepts were agreed to by the National Park Service (NPS), the
State of Alaska, and the tourist industry, and implementation
has begun.  The language directs the NPS to maintain the airstrip for
general aviation and commercial uses, and erroneously states that this
strip is the only access point for visitors choosing to fly to the

TITLE II:  Road Decommissioning -- would prohibit funds to be used to
decommission or fix National Forest System roads until all
"unauthorized" roads are decommissioned or fixed.  "System" roads
include logging roads built for heavy trucks, many of which are now
causing mudslides and habitat fragmentation.  "Unauthorized" roads
include less harmful roads such as temporary roads or paths carved out
by off-road vehicles.  Since many unauthorized roads are not recorded,
inventorying them alone would cause lengthy delays in addressing the
most destructive system roads.  This language steers resources away
from road improvements that would have more benefits to wildlife
habitats and watersheds.

TITLE II:  Wilderness Act Implementation -- would shift Forest Service
emphasis in administering the Wilderness Act of 1964 away from the
quality of solitude in wilderness areas to one focused on human
activity and recreational use.  It seeks to abolish regulations that
set limits on the number of people in designated wilderness areas when
they are based upon achieving solitude.


Chugach Road -- would grant a particularly destructive road
construction easement through the northern section of the Chugach
National Forest in Alaska, across the Copper River Delta in Alaska.
The provision would also exempt the project from comprehensive
environmental review or public input.  The 700,000-acre Copper River
Delta is the largest wetlands complex, and perhaps the richest
waterfowl feeding area, on the Pacific Coast and is part of the largest
roadless area in the Chugach National Forest.

Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Plan (ICBEMP) -- would
effectively end the project by preventing a final decision on the
ICBEMP Final Environmental Impact Statement.  This is similar to a
rider attached but struck from last year's bill.

Tree Planting Funds (K-V) for Overhead -- would allow up to 25% of the
K-V fund to be used for Forest Service overhead.  The Knutsen-
Vandenburg Act (tree replanting fund) does not authorize its use for
indirect overhead expenses.  K-V was intended to pay for direct
expenses for replanting and post-logging restoration of the area of the
timber sale.  The inclusion of an authorization of up to 25% of all K-V
funds in this bill amounts to rewarding the Forest Service for what
some contend has been an illegal skimming K-V funds, and is currently a
question being decided by the courts.

Coastal Barriers (CBRA) - would remove several Florida land parcels
from the Coastal Barrier system, despite the recent decision by the US
District Court for the District of Columbia that implementation of the
deletions is invalid.  This rider is similar to threats attempted by
the 104th Congress in the Omnibus Parks bill.  The 1982 Coastal Barrier
Resources Act (CARA) established the Coastal Barrier Resources System
consisting of undeveloped coastal barriers, such as barrier islands,
spits, and associated aquatic habitat.  This rider would remove land
units from CARA and make areas eligible for federal development
subsidies including federal flood insurance for new, private
construction, despite their hazard-prone and fragile nature. This
decision would be fiscally unsound and come at the expense of the
American taxpayer.  Many of the coastal barriers are nesting areas for
loggerhead and green sea turtles and harbor many other threatened and
endangered species like the piping plover and other shorebirds.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park Road -- would force the National
Park Service to keep the Newfound Gap road open year-round, 24-
hours/day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The Newfound Gap
road runs 32 miles across the park via a 5,000 foot pass.  Severe
winter weather can make the road unsafe to travel.  This would put a
severe strain on the financial resources of the park and could endanger
travelers.  It may cost the Park Service up to $300,000 to keep the
road open.  This unfunded mandate should not be allowed.


Below are existing stand-alone bills or draft bill language that may be
added to the House or Senate approps bills as riders:

Alaska University Lands Bill, S. 660 - by Senator Frank Murkowski (R-
AK) would grant the University of Alaska as much as 500,000 acres of
public land, potentially from the Tongass National Forest, the National
Petroleum Reserve and lands adjacent to and offshore of the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge.  The Administration has threatened a veto.
These lands will be under no mandate for long-term sustainable
management (and therefore subject to `resource extraction' such as
logging, oil drilling, etc.).  The University already owns more than
170,000 acres of revenue producing property and has been granted 104
million acres under its statehood act, more than any other state.

Alaska Native Corporations bill sponsored by Representative Don Young
(R-AK) would authorize eligible residents in five Southeast Alaska
communities to form Native corporations.  The Interior Department and
the Forest Service would then be required to consider `compensation' to
these communities such as land grants up to 100,000 acres from the
Tongass National Forest or areas of the National Petroleum Reserve-
Alaska could be selected.  In 1971, these five villages were rejected
under criteria set in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

Craig Grazing bill -- Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) may try and tack on
his version of Representative Bob Smith's Grazing bill, HR 2493, the
Forage Improvement Act.  This would lock-in current grazing levels and
practices, subsidize overgrazing with continued low fees, limit public
access to public lands and severely restrict public participation in
the planning process while increasing the role of the livestock

Hells Canyon bill, S. 360, introduced by Senator Craig, would increase
motorized access to the Snake River in the wilderness portions of Hells
Canyon National Recreation Area.  Access would be year-round and it
would allow commercial and private river craft (incl. motorboats) to
use the whole river.  The bill would set a precedent for similar uses
in other wilderness areas.

Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery and Economic Stability Act, HR 858
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) both have a hold
on the bill.  Boxer pulled her support for the bill, citing objections
to the cutting of up to 194,000 acres of "ecologically significant,"
including old-growth forest.  The bill would institute a five-year
pilot project for forest management activities on three northern
California National Forests.  More than 140 conservation groups oppose
the bill.

"Farm and Ranch Habitat Protection Act," draft legislation proposed by
Representative Tom Campbell (R-CA), would exempt most agriculture-
related activities from Endangered Species Act regulation, including
the takings prohibition and HCP requirements.  Agriculture-related
activities include livestock grazing, application of pesticides, timber
harvesting, and land and water conversion.  These activities would only
need to be performed on a portion of the farm or ranch, in order to
exempt the entire property, setting a harmful precedent that would
undermine endangered and threatened species and their habitat.

Denali National Park -- Senator Murkowski (R-AK) may seek language to
facilitate construction of a 60-mile road through the northern portion
of Denali National Park in Alaska.  This is a more severe form of his
amendment in the new TEA21 (federal highway) bill.  The road would cut
across a wild and biologically rich area of the park at an estimated
construction cost of $100 million, destroying the wilderness
characteristics of the park.

Gulf Islands National Seashore -- Possible rider by Representative Joe
Scarborough (R-FL) to rewrite existing legislation of Gulf Islands
National Seashore to allow commercial fishing in the park.

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve -- Last year, Senator Murkowski
(R-AK) attempted to add language to the Interior bill that would have
given 30,000 acres of Lake Clark National Park coastline to a Native
Corporation to be used for commercial development.  Lake Clark is one
of the most magnificent parks in Alaska, and the park coastal lands are
critical to the protection of the park wildlife populations.

Cumberland Island National Seashore land exchange -- Representative
Jack Kingston (R-GA) may attempt to instruct the National Park Service
to participate in a land exchange detrimental to the park.  Under the
proposal, the park would surrender lands that were acquired at the
north end of the island in exchange for about 1,000 acres in the middle
of the park.  This exchange would allow development to occur in one of
the parks most remote wilderness area and would reverse the process of
making Cumberland Island a unique national park experience.

National Forest Planning - Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) may add a
rider to halt the revision of any new forest plans not currently in
process until final or interim final regulations are adopted.  Concern
is that it would reinstate previous and faulty planning regulations in
the interim.

Block Completion of Utah BLM Inventory - Possible language from Senator
Bob Bennett (R-UT). In 1996, the Department of Interior began a
wilderness inventory of Bureau of Land Management Lands contained in
H.R. 1500 in the state of Utah.  After about 90% of the inventory was
completed, the State, the Utah Association of Counties and the Utah
School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration sued to stop the
inventory.  The US Court of Appeals 10th Circuit ruled that Interior
could conduct the inventory and just denied the state's petition for a
rehearing.  Having lost in court, it is anticipated that the Utah
delegation will now attempt to halt the inventory with a rider.

The Mining Law Reform Act of 1997, S. 1102, introduced by Senator Larry
Craig, would give taxpayers as little as 1% of a company's income from
mining on public lands, with royalty close to zero for first five years
(a grandfather clause).  This would gut the minimal federal standards,
states would take over environmental oversight of federal land, and the
3809 process to strengthen federal environmental safeguards for mining
would come to a de facto end.  It also would change acreage value to
its surface value, ignoring the potential mineral value when selling

Essential Fish Habitat Rider -- Senate and House Appropriations
Chairmen Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Bob Livingston (R-LA) are
planning a Commerce appropriations rider to defund or severely limit
Congressional funding of the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) program,
restricting it only to marine habitat, thereby making it impossible to
protect Pacific salmon inland habitat or prevent loss of estuarine
habitat.  For more information, contact Pacific Coast Federation of
Fishermen's Associations (514) 689-2000 or fish1ifr@aol.com

GrassRoots Environmental Effectiveness Network (GREEN)

Karen Tuerk, Midwest coordinator
1121 University Ave, Madison, WI  553715
(608) 294-1338, ktuerk@execpc.com

-- END included message