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Legislative News

Sea Lions in Jeopardy

Environmental organizations are asking U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly to block pollock trawling in critical sea lion habitat in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, according to the Christian Science Monitor 8/9. In the last two decades alone, the endangered Steller's sea lion population has plummeted from 120,000 to 20,000, an 80 percent decline. Pollock, a major food source for the sea lion, also supports a $700 million a year fishing industry. Environmentalists contend that the National Marine Fisheries Service quotas maximize the harvest with little regard for the impact on the sea lions. (GREENLines, 11 August 1999)

Grizzly Protection Plan Flawed

AP 8/9 reports that environmental groups are calling the habitat criteria in the FWS Yellowstone grizzly bear recovery plan flawed and "the beginning of the end for bear recovery." Environmental groups contend that grizzly mortality indicates that the existing recovery area is inadequate and needs to be expanded to provide corridors to other grizzly populations and to compensate for continued development within the recovery area. (GREENLines, 16 August 1999)

Local Zoning for Endangered Species

AP reports 8/16 that the city of Medford, OR is proposing a 50-foot riparian buffer zone along fish-bearing streams. Construction and the use of fertilizers and pesticides would be banned and native vegetation protected in the buffer zone. This innovative use of local zoning laws was specifically designed to meet statewide planning goals for protecting wetlands and riparian areas and to comply with the Endangered Species Act. (GREENLines, 19 August 1999)

Court Orders Critical Habitat

The San Diego North County Times reports 8/12 that a federal court has ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) "to prepare a plan that will protect the California gnatcatcher's habitat in Riverside, San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties." While conservation groups hail the order to designate critical habitat as an important step forward, FWS says it will only further "tax limited resources" strained by a lack of congressional funding. As the agency charged with enforcing the ESA, FWS's $802 million 1999 budget had less than $1 million "set aside for critical habitat efforts nationwide." (GREENLines, 1 September 1999)

ESA Reauthorization No.1 Priority

The Western Governors Association led by Montana Governor Marc Racicot has made reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act its number one priority, according to the Billings Gazette 9/10. The governors are pushing "three separate bills to change the act that they say will make it stronger and more workable." Their strategy advocates a three-part approach focusing on species recovery, more money for recovery efforts and "conservation agreements or habitat protection plans before they are listed and local control is lost." (GREENLines, 15 September 1999)

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