Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bush judge rules against Interior on desert lizard

Court says Bush Interior Dept. wrong to pull lizard protection, restores proposed listing rule for flat-tailed horned lizard in Arizona and California.

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C. Barrows photo

PHOENIX -- Conservation groups and scientists won an important victory today for the flat-tailed horned lizard, an attractive lizard that looks like a mini-dinosaur and lives in the US in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, California.

Federal judge Neil Wake, a Bush appointee, ruled Bush’s Interior Secretary Gale Norton’s “withdrawal of the proposed rule violated the Endangered Species Act and the Ninth Circuit’s remand order by failing to evaluate the lizard’s lost habitat…” Wake struck down Norton’s withdrawl of a proposed rule to list the flat-tailed horned lizard as a threatened species, therefore the lizard is again proposed for much needed and overdue Endangered Species Act listing to help it survive and recover.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Horned Lizard Conservation Society, Tucson Herpetological Society, and Defenders of Wildlife were forced in to court on October 30, 2003 to challenge Norton’s illegal January 3, 2003 denial of Endangered Species Act protection for the lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii), an attractive Sonoran desert native.

My take is Sec. Norton’s unethical denial of protection for the flat-tailed horned lizard will not stand. This is a good win for nature, and greens will keep working to protect and recover this cool lizard. Without listing and critical habitat designation, imperiled wildlife gets only bureaucratic lip-service as they slide toward extinction.

The flat-tailed horned lizard inhabits portions of the Sonoran Desert in southern California’s California Desert Conservation Area (Riverside, Imperial and San Diego counties), Arizona (Yuma county), and northwestern Mexico (Sonora, Baja Calif. N). The main cause for the decline of the lizard is conversion of habitat to urban sprawl and agriculture. Threats include crops, cities, off-road vehicles, geothermal leases, border traffic, gravel pits and highways. Flat-tailed horned lizards feed primarily on native harvester ants. Pesticide drift likely affects ant populations on habitat near agricultural areas.

The lizard is especially threatened near Palm Springs CA, in the Coachella Valley.

“We know of only one remaining population of flat-tailed horned lizards left in the Coachella Valley. That’s an undeniable indicator of decline for an animal that was once found from the vicinity of Snow Creek and throughout the sandy areas of the Valley.” said University of California biologist Dr. Al Muth. “Its ludicrous that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dismissed this population as insignificant, and it smells more of politics than biology.”

A pending Interior decision to open 50,000 protected acres of the Algodones Dunes in Imperial County to intensive off-road vehicle use is an example of the deadly management Norton is pursuing for the lizard and its habitat.


As the common name suggests, the species is recognized by its broad, flattened tail but also has long, sharp horns on its head, two rows of fringe scales along its abdomen, a dark stripe along its backbone, and concealed external ear openings. Adults of this species range in size between 2.5 and 4.3 inches long, excluding the tail.

“Despite a multi-party voluntary conservation agreement signed in 1997, Flat-tailed Horned Lizards continue to lose valuable habitat and populations are still declining.” said Taylor Edwards, President of the Tucson Herpetological Society. “A significant threat to the flat-tailed horned lizard is the Yuma Area Service Highway that threatens to divide the last remaining habitat stronghold for this species in Arizona.” He adds, “We’re concerned with the associated urban sprawl that would accompany the highway if it is built, increasing the loss and fragmentation of important flat-tailed horned lizard habitat.”

A proposed rule to list the species as threatened was published in the Federal Register on November 29, 1993. On July 15, 1997, the US Fish and Wildlife Service withdrew its proposal to list the Flat-tailed Horned Lizard as threatened.

That decision to withdraw the proposed listing was challenged in court by conservation groups. On October 24, 2001, the District Court ordered the Service to reinstate the 1993 proposed rule to list the lizard as threatened and to make a new final listing determination for the species. In early 2003 the Service again withdrew that rule, denying legal protection for the lizard. The lizard and its habitat continue to decline.

Attorneys Neil Levine and Bill Snape represented conservation groups in this important case.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Rescue Ironwood Forest from Bush neglect & harm

The Ironwood Forest National Monument, on BLM public lands in the Sonoran Desert west of Tucson, is a cool place.

Saguaro Cactus in front of Ragged Top Mountain at Ironwood National Monument. Chris Tincher, BLM.
Saguaro Cactus in front of Ragged Top Mountain at Ironwood
National Monument. Chris Tincher, BLM.


Saguaro & ironwood forests flow between the Silverbell, Waterman, Sawtooth and other mountain ranges. Desert tortoise and bighorn sheep live here, and maybe even an endangered cactus pygmy owl or two.

This 129,000 acre monument has been around now for over 5 years, but still there is no plan to protect it. The Ironwood is still threatened by livestock and off-road vehicles especially. BLM has not done a good job managing the monument so far, favoring 'multiple-abuse' management over conservation and restoration of nature.

If you value the Sonoran Desert, help protect Ironwood. Come to the public workshop Aug 31 in Tucson (read below).

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From AWC: Ironwood Forest National Monument--a spectacular national treasure northwest of Tucson that supports one of the highest densities of ironwood trees in the Sonoran Desert. The Bureau of Land Management has initiated a public comment process, inviting the public to submit their preferences for how the monument should be managed for the next 15 years. This is a critical step in the process: the more feedback the Bureau of Land Management collects from the public, the better prepared it is to protect this special Arizona gem for future generations. The agency needs to hear from YOU that these topics and concerns are a top priority. The land and wildlife cannot speak up for itself.

For example, within the borders of Ironwood Forest National Monument, 474 species and subspecies of plants thrive, 8% of which do not occur in the nearest protected desert areas, the Tucson Mountains, or Organ Pipe National Park. The monument is also home to the last bighorn sheep population in the Tucson Basin. Sensitive to habitat disturbances like roads and off-road vehicle use, sheep and a variety of other species need special safeguards like those offered by wilderness protection.

The Arizona Wilderness Coalition is proposing that the Bureau of Land Management protect four areas with Wilderness Characteristics in the Ironwood Forest NM. These units include Ragged Top (6,161 acres), Sawtooth Mountains (11,169 acres), Silver Bell Mountains (7,489 acres), and the West Silver Bell Mountains (8,598 acres), totaling 33,417 acres. This acreage represents only 25% of the entire monument, which is a reasonable compromise for the monument's multiple uses. Protecting the wilderness characteristics of these areas as will assist the Bureau of Land Management in its responsibility to protect the objects of the Ironwood Forest National Monument and help ensure the long-term survival of the last bighorn sheep herd in the Tucson Basin.

WHAT: A public workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, August 31, 2005 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. to discuss the preliminary draft alternatives. Please attend this workshop to share your ideas with BLM.
WHERE:
Pima County Parks and Recreation, 3500 West River Road, Tucson.
TO SUBMIT COMMENTS:
Comments may be submitted at the workshop or by mail by September 14th, to BLM Tucson Field Office, 12661 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85748-7208, Attention: Linda Marianito.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: A preliminary table of alternatives and meeting announcement can be viewed as an electronic pdf document at http://www.blm.gov/nhp/spotlight/state_info/planning/az/ironwood_bulletin.pdf A detailed alert with more in depth talking points will be sent out after the Public meeting. It is very likely that the comment deadline will be extended by at least a week. A complete set of the preliminary draft alternatives, along with maps, can be reviewed beginning August 24, 2005, at www.blm.gov under the "Planning" link. The preliminary draft alternatives also will be available beginning August 24, 2005, on CD and/or hard copy by request from Linda Marianito at the BLM Tucson Field Office. Linda can be reached at (520) 258-7241.

Talking Points for writing comments:

  • Tell the BLM that you generally support alternative B, which provides the best protection for monument resources.
  • Protecting 45,000 acres of lands with wilderness characteristics in the monument is necessary to protect monument resources, naturalness, solitude, and primitive recreation.
  • Prohibit the discharge of firearms on monument lands, except for hunting.
  • Protection of the monument's spectacular landscape, biological diversity, and rich cultural past is the primary objective, not providing recreation opportunities.
  • Tell BLM you support a limited motorized transportation network of 170 miles
  • Close bighorn sheep lambing areas to public access from January thru April

Friday, August 26, 2005

Leal asks Walkup for Raging Grannies song

TUCSON -- The Raging Grannies, Tucson's inspiring group of older women for peace, should sing at a Tucson City Council meeting said Councilman Steve Leal tonight at a party for candidate Steve Farley in Santa Rita Park.

Leal requested Mayor Bob Walkup allow the Grannies to sing, but Bob said only songs such as the national anthem were allowed.

Leal corrected that many types of entertainment had been at council meetings. Leal suggested tonight that if their free speech was blocked, the Raging Grannies should sing a song about Walkup during call to the audience at a council meeting.

C'mon, Bob, let 'em sing. Grannies, sing a song of peace to the Tucson City Council.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Wild political events in Tucson

Friday 8/26 is the Environmentalists for Farley Party. 6:30-8:30pm near downtown. Contact me for details.

There will be a news conference Monday in support of the Endangered Species Act, with a bald eagle, 11am at the Radisson Hotel downtown. Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, Pima County Supervisors, and conservation leaders will be there with the eagle.

Mojave biologist speaks for truth in media

Environmental arguments should reflect both sides of issues

by Tom Egan, Helendale CA

Re: "Death, taxes and the litigation dodge" (Our Opinion, Aug. 21), and
"Shoot, shovel and shut up" (Commentary, Aug. 21).

Throughout history, effective government "watchdog" groups and involved
citizens who make successful stands for justice have been challenged by the
various unscrupulous profiteers, "mob bosses" and corporate "robber barons"
of their day.

Attempted public manipulation via editorial propaganda is often the tool of
choice used to court public opinion in these assaults upon American
intelligence, and has been used with sheer abandon in both High Desert
arenas and
national politics of late. When the ability to challenge government
decisions
affecting our public lands and policies, with regard to the cited
editorial and
today's public land management climate in general, becomes
threatened; and
the promotion of illegal activities a small segment of society
disagrees with,
becomes glorified, as is the case of the latter published
commentary
submitted by a so-called "Wise Use" private property rights
advocate, and no opposing
viewpoints are aired, print media steps over
the line of professional
journalism.

There will always be those Machiavellian libertarians who believe that which
belongs to all should be utilized by a few at the expense of the rest. There
will also always be those supporters of the status quo who fear for their
current subsidized uses of public resources, such as the water diverted from
salmon recovery purposes for Mr. Pombo's Central Valley private land grape
farms. There will also always be those supporters of subsidized goodies
occurring
on public lands and national forests, when such uses are not
sustainable,
and those who misrepresent the condition of our public lands
and/or intent of
our public land laws, as well as those who steal from our
children, cheat the
taxpayer and/or threaten the rights/property of other
citizens.


Still, one wonders why we let such unAmerican practices continue virtually
unchallenged day after day.

from: DAILY PRESS & DESERT DISPATCH -- Aug 25 05 -- OPINION

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Tom Egan is a friend of nature, fairness, and a friend of mine. He is a dad,
wildlife biologist, and conservation activist
in the Mojave Desert of California.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Air Force officer punished for defacing Bush signs

bush23.jpg

Veteran says no to Iraq war at Utah protest, Aug 22 05

DENVER -- Lt. Col. Alexis Fecteau is accused of defacing pro-Bush bumper stickers and has been punished by military brass.

He has not yet been convicted of anything. So much for due process, or free speech.

Even if he did do it, it has nothing to do with his military service. Clearly the punishment of him is political.

Does anyone think an officer who was charged with trashing peace stickers would be punished by Rumsfeld's Pentagon? No.

We are again reminded that many in the military do not support Bush.


bush28.jpg
Shirt at anti-Bush, anti-war rally in Salt Lake City, Aug 22 05

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Would Jesus kill Hugo Chavez? No, but Pat would

Right-wing christian televangelist Pat Roberston is an idiot.
Televangelist Pat Robertson
Assassin of Christ

VIRGINIA BEACH VA -- This morning on his 700 Club show, Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

What!?! Robertson must be smoking human cremation ashes rolled in old bible paper. No one should agree with this crazy republican TV preacher.

Pat is just another wack fundementalist who just wants to kill, kill, kill. Where does any god say we should kill people, especially those chosen by citizens to lead their nation?

Here's an idea. Pat Robertson should take on Chavez in a duel or boxing match. May the best man win. Pat's weak old-ass would lose fast and big.

I am no big fan of Chavez, but America has enough problems to deal with, mainly Bush's deadly Iraq war.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Bush favors to mad cowmen lead to BLM suicide

Julie Cart and Maria L. La Ganga of the LA Times report today on a sad story at the Carrizo Plain National Monument in southern California. US Bureau of Land Management Monument Manager, Marlene Braun (below) killed herself after over a year of political harrassment from her boss, Ron Huntsinger.

Fervent

Bush officials and BLM managers favored continued heavy livestock production on the monument, pushing to rollback conservation and management gains of the last decade, and attacking Braun for doing her duty to protect monument natural resources.

Plain

‘She was able to keep the grazing off the bottom land for the last four years. It was an amazing achievement compared to what had happened before it was a monument.’ Irv McMillan, a longtime cattleman and friend of Marlene Braun, seen below.

'An amazing achievement'

The tale of Marlene Braun's suicide is a sad and angering story of hostile ranchers and government hatchet men attacking public scientists and land managers.

BLM's Ron Huntsinger, seen below outside his Bakersfield office, should at least be fired, and prosecuted if any of his actions were illegal.

Boss

Let his boss, Mike Pool, know your feelings, mpool@ca.blm.gov.
Contact Huntsinger at rhuntsinger@ca.blm.gov.

all photos from latimes.com

Friday, August 19, 2005

Desert lizard gets day in court

PHOENIX -- The flat-tailed horned lizard, an imperiled Sonoran Desert critter that looks like a mini dinosaur, will soon get a day in court with its attorneys arguing for Endangered Species Act protection. Bush's lawyers and Interior Dept. will argue it should not be protected.

The feds, going back to Clinton, won't protect this great animal from extinction. The flat-tailed horned lizard lives in low dunes of Yuma, Imperial, Riverside, and San Diego Counties and is threatened by off-road vehicles, urban sprawl, border militarization, and agriculture.

Environmental groups, including the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, are working in court to win protection for the lizard to save it from extinction.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bush & congress hurt local control with energy bill

WASHINGTON -- The recently passed US energy bill, a huge spending measure aimed mostly at more of the same pollution, also gives more power to heavy-handed federalism at the expense of local control.

If a state or community does not wanted to be harmed by energy projects and says no, the matter was usually settled in state courts if corporations sued. Now the big money energyheads can go straight to federal court where they will argue a national need and greed for energy must be fed and locals cannot stand in the way, even if it harms their neighborhoods.

This hack against local quality of life interests is brought to Americans by GW Bush and the Republican Party (and many Dems who supported the energy bill), who show once again that big corporate money beats true local control.

These chumps will hem and haw about supporting local control, but they do only when the locals support the view of industry or the feds. When locals do not, all of the sudden we need the heavy boot of the feds to keep local interests down.

One area where we can keep local control is in elections, and I predict the locals will boot many federalist politicians in 06.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mayors team up to fight global warming pollution

Filling a void in national leadership, 175 US Mayors are teaming up to fight global warming pollution.

Seattle has taken many steps to cut global warming pollution from city fleets, including running buses and Seattle City Light trucks with biodiesel. Portland has also done a lot to help.

Curbing global warming pollution is a critical issue for Arizona and other hot states, and cities should take the lead. Sadly only one Arizona city is listed as helping in the Mayors' national effort, and a map shows it as near Kingman!?!

Many cities in Southern California are on board, and if they can do it so can Arizonans. Tucson Mayor Walkup should join this important effort now, as should Phoenix.

Global warming pollution is one issue too hot to ignore. A collection of local solutions lead by cities could become the American solution.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Pima County AZ backs Endangered Species Act

TUCSON -- In a 5-0 vote today, Pima County Supervisors passed a clear resolution in favor of a strong Endangered Species Act. The important environmental law is under attack by the Bush administration, industry, and anti-conservation politicians in congress.

Republican Supervisor Ann Day, sister of retiring US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, stole the show with her strong statement in favor of endangered species protection and against US Rep. Pombo (R-CA) for his attacks on the Act.

"I'm a conservative Republican, but I believe in conservation and the Endangered Species Act," said Day. Republican Ray Carroll also supported the resolution, which was proposed by Board Chair Sharon Bronson and supported by Supervisors Elias and Valadez, all Dems.

Pima County is the first county in the nation to pass such a resolution, and will send a copy of it with a letter to the President and the Arizona congressional delegation. The Act spurred cooperation and creation of the popular Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife did a good job organizing this and turning people out to the meeting to support the Endangered Species Act.

It was a day to be proud to live in Pima County.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Grooving on the dream of love scent

I see a dream. I have a dream that all people will live in harmony with the earth and each other, no longer warring over our differences.

I have a vision. I have a vision that evil is peaking now with Bush/Cheney and it will sink to the fires in my lifetime. It is a clear vision without so much pollution and greed.

I want a scent. A smell of life, food and clean nature. The scent of lovers' sweat and the western rain on a hot day. The perfume of clean water.

We need the love. The love of a species homo sapien, and deep desire to do the right thing. The love of family and friends. The love of the common good.

Summer moves with the clouds, warming our hearts and minds. Grooving on the growth of laughing next generations.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bush immoral with on-going death occupations

Bush today said he 'understands' the feelings of people such as the mom who lost her son in Iraq camping out near his Crawford TX 'ranch'. But his disrespectful answer is to keep soldiers in place dying and killing in his Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Many remember when it was the Soviets warring in Afghanistan, now it is the red, white and blue. It is hopeless to try to 'win' there. Let the Afghans fight it out and determine their future. They may even choose peace if we'd let them down from the mountain caves.

W says 'it would send the wrong message to our enemy' if we withdrew from Iraq. His idea of the right message is keep occupying, dying, killing. This only brings more hatred and terrorism toward America. Bodies keep piling up, both US troops and Iraqis, and families destroyed by Bush's bloody stubborn ideaology of war.

Hearts worldwide are with the mom and others staking Bush out in Crawford. He should show some guts and come out to talk with them. I'm sure he won't because Karl Rove and Cheney won't let him. It would look weak to his insane warmongering supporters, and Bush may even have to open his mind to ending the bloodbath he's unethically created with lies.

Bush is commander in chief, but we all have the power. If we really want to stop war and live in peace we must live more simply and respect the world.

Stop buying so much gas, shopping at Wal-Mart, and hogging resources then saying we want peace, freedom and equality. Improve the world by changing our habits.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Flooded barrios

Back to Tucson from the sunny and warm Great Lakes. Much to enjoy there, and restore & protect.

Monsoon is strong so far this year in the Sonoran Desert. Huge storm yesterday blew down trees and flooded parts of the city.

Nature bats last.