Conservation

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 131st anniversary of America’s first state park at Niagara Falls. Park visitation has become more popular than ever, with 2015 being a record-breaking year for visitors to national parks as well as state parks in Michigan, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

During a recent CSG eCademy webcast, “Improving Species Conservation in the West,” Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said the Endangered Species Act needs revision because the finish line—recovering species and removing them from the endangered species list—is often unreachable for states.

Mead is leading an initiative, as chairman of the Western Governors’ Association, to improve the Endangered Species Act and species conservation efforts. He wants to send a message to Congress that the initiative is a bipartisan effort and species are not only important to the West but also to the country as a whole.

Recent conservation efforts to reduce threats facing the greater sage-grouse in its 11-state range and to avoid its listing as a protected species under the Endangered Species Act have garnered attention as a success story for federal and state agencies and private stakeholders. But the greater sage-grouse isn’t alone. As chair of the Western Governors Association, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has initiated a process through facilitated stakeholder meetings, webinars and outreach to a broad audience of stakeholders to build on recent successes and find ways to improve species conservation activities in the West. This FREE CSG eCademy, presented by CSG West, explores the themes highlighted from the effort and the next steps in the process.

In Sturgeon v. Frost the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion that per Section 103(c) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), National Park Service (NPS) regulations that apply nationally apply to nonpublic land in Alaska contained in an ANILCA “conservation unit.”

ANILCA federally protects 104 million acres of land in Alaska. Contained in these conservation units are over 18 million acres of state, Native American, and privately owned land. NPS rangers informed moose hunter John Sturgeon that he could not operate his hovercraft on a river in one of Alaska’s ANILCA conservation units per a NPS regulation banning hovercrafts in national parks. Sturgeon objected pointing out that Alaska owns the river.  

Imagine yourself (if you can) on an Alaska moose hunting trip riding along in your hovercraft. Oh no your hovercraft has just broken down! While you are repairing it, three National Park Service (NPS) law enforcement officers inform you that you cannot operate it here because of an NPS regulation banning hovercrafts.

You are shocked because you know that while the portion of the Nation River you are on is contained in a national park, Alaska owns (at least) the land under the Nation River.

So what would you do? John Sturgeon sued.   

The Endangered Species Act aims to conserve plant and animal species that are endangered or threatened throughout all or a portion of their habitat. But as the list of species protected under the act grows, the range of habitats in which these species live increasingly overlaps with areas otherwise designated for development.

Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973 in response to a growing threat of extinction to numerous species. The act formed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates under the Department of Interior. The federal agency is tasked with identifying and protecting endangered and threatened species based on scientific evidence. This infographic provides a brief overview of the Act.  

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Last week the President unveiled his $4 trillion budget for Fiscal Year 2016.  The budget highlights the President’s continued support on several energy and environmental topics with emphasis on clean energy.  He reiterated his support for the Climate Action Plan he released in 2013 and called for an increase in funding support for the plan. 

Several agencies made the request for larger...

Scheduled land preservation will continue in the state of New Jersey after voters passed Public Question No. 2 by nearly 65% of the vote.    The Measure amends the state’s constitution to allocate a percent of the Corporation Business Tax revenue towards the preservation of open space, farmland and historic sites through 2045. 

Land preservation projects in the Garden State had come to a halt after exhausting the $400 million set aside for...

Oil and gas development is booming in North Dakota, bringing in millions of dollars in tax revenues.  Proposed Ballot Measure 5 seeks to redirect 5% of the state’s share of oil extraction taxes towards clean water, wildlife and parks. 

The measure would add a new section to the North Dakota constitution creating both a Clean Water, Wildlife Parks Trust and a Fund.  Ten percent of the redirected money would go in...

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