Lawsuit filed over Sand Mt. blue butterfly


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Lawsuit filed over Sand Mt. blue butterfly

Post by vwhijumper »

Aother Article

January 6, 2006

A group of environmental organizations claims the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Nevada is dragging its feet over protecting habitat for the Sand Mountain blue butterfly and is taking agency to court.

The Center for Biological Diversity, in a joint effort with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Nevada Outdoor Recreation Association, announced Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit against the USFWS and U.S. Secretary of Interior Gale Norton for violating the Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit stems from the fact that the Nevada division of the USFWS has taken longer than the required 90 days to answer a petition requesting that the Sand Mountain blue butterfly be named as an endangered species. The petition was originally filed in April 2004.

Nevada Fish & Wildlife Field Supervisor Bob Williams acknowledges that the agency has taken much longer than 90 days to answer the petition, but also said that a lack of necessary funding to complete the study has been the reason for the delay.

Williams did, however, say Thursday that funding would be available for the USFWS to begin their study this year, most likely in the spring.

"Quite frankly, now that the lawsuit has been filed, I'm trying to get this thing on the radar," Williams said. "It's just a difficult situation with specific needs."

Center for Biological Diversity Desert Ecologist Daniel Patterson said he realizes that there is some truth to Williams' statement of a lack of funding, but that it is largely because Norton has not formally asked for funds in a timely fashion.

While he appreciates the fact that Sand Mountain is a popular site for OHV enthusiasts, Patterson said he is also concerned that the riding is destroying the area's Kearney buckwheat - the habitat for the blue butterfly.

In short, Patterson said he and the conservation groups would like to see more uses for Sand Mountain than just dune buggy riding.

"Sand dunes are available for anybody," Patterson said. "The multiple-use view makes sense as long as it includes protecting the habitat.

"If you can diversify management, you'll diversify visitors to Sand Mountain. Besides OHV riders, you'll get photographers and people that are into studying unique dune species. All these new visitors would be passing through Fallon."

Local groups like the Lahontan Valley Environmental Alliance have already been working toward preserving the butterfly's habitat.

The Bureau of Land Management also approved new designated routes in October 2005 for OHV riders at Sand Mountain in order to protect the habitat. BLM Associate Field Manager Elayn Briggs has said that rangers would be ticketing riders who go off the routes as soon as the new rules have been approved.

In the meantime, determining whether the blue butterfly is an endangered species is the first priority for the conservation groups.

"It's been a year and half since we filed the petition, and the lawsuit is a last resort," Patterson said. "It's a bummer that we even have to go to court on this.

"But it's in no one's best interest to have an endangered species clinging to its death bed forever. What we need is a long-term, sustainable management plan."

Burke Wasson can be contacted at ... e=printart

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Post by Crowdog »

Conservationists sue to protect butterfly
Associated PressRENO, Nev. - Conservationists sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday seeking protection for a rare butterfly they say is threatened by off-road vehicles at one of the largest sand dunes in the West.

Environmentalists want the agency to declare the Sand Mountain blue butterfly an endangered species because, they say, its habitat is being destroyed at the only place it is known to live - the Sand Mountain Recreation Area in western Nevada.

The Bureau of Land Management controls activities at the dune, which is 600 feet tall and stretches for two miles. It attracts an estimated 50,000 off-roaders annually on motorcycles, dune buggies and all-terrain vehicles.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Sacramento, Calif., accuses the agency of violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to respond to petitions since April 2004 seeking federal protection for the butterfly. The act requires the government to provide a preliminary response to such petitions within 90 days and often again within a year.

Plaintiffs accuse the Bureau of Land Management of pandering to off-roaders.

"It's a stall tactic coming out of hostile politics in Washington," said Daniel Patterson, a desert ecologist for Arizona's Center for Biological Diversity, which is suing along with the Nevada Outdoor Recreation Association and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Bob Williams, Nevada supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service, blamed lack of money for the agency's inaction.

"We only get a certain amount of money a year to do listing findings," Williams said. Most of it was spent on sage grouse and pygmy rabbit reviews in the past two years, he said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to spend about $35,000 on a 90-day review - probably beginning in June - to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a full, yearlong review of the butterfly, Williams said.

"We do know the butterfly is there, and we haven't been able to find it at any other location," he said.

The butterfly depends on a unique shrub, the Kearney buckwheat, which covers about 1,000 of the recreation area's 4,795 acres. It is found nowhere else.

The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management have been working with local groups to save the butterfly without necessarily listing it as endangered. Tentative plans call for more signs designating approved travel routes, fencing to protect the habitat and additional law enforcement.

Many off-roaders oppose a federal listing.

"If it did become listed, no telling what type of restrictions they could do out there," said Richard Hilton of Reno, a board member of the Friends of Sand Mountain, a group composed primarily of off-road enthusiasts.

The butterfly is dependent on a unique shrub, the Kearney buckwheat, that covers about 1,000 acres of the 4,795 acres of the recreation area. It is found nowhere else.

Kearney Buckwheat is NOT UNIQUE to Sand Mountain. It can be found throughout the Great Basin. I have personally seen it at two other locations, and have documented info here: ... ations.htm

I have contacted AP in Reno to see if they can help correct the article.

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(Daniel Patterson) "If you can diversify management, you'll diversify visitors to Sand Mountain. Besides OHV riders, you'll get photographers and people that are into studying unique dune species. All these new visitors would be passing through Fallon."
Yeah, like ALL of the hordes of photographers, hikers, and sand observation enthusiasts that Daniel Patterson said would flock to the ISDRA, bringing $3,000,000 ecoterrorism (oops, I mean ecotourism) dollars into the Imperial Valley. This is just another angle of rehetoric that DP is using to weasle his personal eco-plans into the area to eventually get it closed down completely, like our "temporary" closures. This fat effer will say ANYTHING to get his way!, and 98% of what spews from his mouth is PURE B U L L S H # #:x
Larry Linkins
O3' Funco Gen 3.5 W/90 HP Subaru

The hand you save may be yours!!

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