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Land Letter

The natural resources weekly report

Last Build Date: Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500


WILDLIFE: Mystery in caves means huge costs for farmers

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500


White-nose syndrome has wiped out millions of bats across the Northeast and is poised to make its way across the country. Photo courtesy of Marvin Moriarty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For years, as dusk settled over James Roby's organic farm in Connecticut, bats feasted on the insects hovering near his crops. Counting the dark shapes swooping against the evening sky from his picnic table, Roby said he would lose track of their quick movements as the number passed a dozen. But last year, the counting was too easy -- he normally saw no more than two bats on a given night. A single little brown bat, one of the most common species in the United States, can eat up to 4,500 insects per night during their active season. That adds up to about 1 million insects per year for just one bat. Multiply that by the millions of insect-chowing bats in the United States, and it adds up to a whopping $22.9 billion in free pest control for farmers like Roby. But that agricultural and economic benefit is at risk from a disease creeping from cave to cave and darkening entire colonies at a go.

NATIONAL PARKS: Conservationists welcome Crater Lake flyover flexibility

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

Conservation leaders are hailing new federal legislation that they say could be a springboard to stronger protection of national parks from disruptive aerial flyover tours. At issue is an amendment…

FORESTS: Climate change puts pinch on Southwestern forests -- researchers

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

SANTA FE, N.M. -- The Southwest's forests are under greater stress today than they have been in centuries, thanks to the vagaries of climate change, researchers said at a fire…

INVASIVE SPECIES: With programs primed, funding is the hurdle in battling pests, official says

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

Obama administration officials hope to ramp up spending to combat invasive species in future federal budgets, a top White House official said this week, and are armed with a new…

WILDFIRE: Wildlife species show resilience to burns, researchers say

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

SANTA FE, N.M. -- When the 223,000-acre Horseshoe Two fire burned through the Chiricahua Mountains in eastern Arizona last spring, biologists feared that the Mexican spotted owls that live there…

INTERIOR: Agency unveils new spotted owl habitat plan, announces reforms to ESA

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

Feb. 21). "Unmanaged, fire-prone forests aren't healthy for the landscape or the spotted owl," Ashe said. Lastly, Obama issued a presidential memorandum Tuesday instructing Interior to provide clear guidelines on…

INTERIOR: Salazar's backtracking on mining merger relieves opponents

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

Feb. 28). It was the signal many skeptics of the plan had hoped for. "It's a very strong signal of intent," said Jim Lyon, vice president of conservation policy for…

WILDERNESS: Sen. Udall envisions strong support for increased Colo. wilderness

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

At a time when many Western leaders are chafing at the sequestering of public land from energy development and other uses, one Western-state senator has proposed adding vast new acreage…

PUBLIC LANDS: Utah federal land grab has no chance 'in the real world' -- Abbey

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

The ongoing policy battle and war of words between the state of Utah and federal land managers over control of public lands in the state continues to escalate. The Utah…

CLIMATE: As the ground shifts, conservationists weigh options

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

How can people "protect" the environment for the long term when climate change, development and other shifts make a moving target out of the goal? That's a question ecologists grappled…

WATER: Calif. snowpack reading marks one of the driest seasons on record

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

March 1). California's Department of Water Resources earlier this month, citing persistent dry weather, dropped by 10 percent its estimate of the amount of water the State Water Project (SWP)…

FORESTS: Coalition of enviro, timber groups defend Mont. logging plan

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

A broad alliance of environmental and timber groups Tuesday defended a Forest Service plan to allow a timber sale in northern Montana, arguing the project must stand up in court…

WILDLIFE: Wary of relisting, Idaho lawmaker backs down on shooting wolves

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

Idaho state Sen. Jeff Siddoway (R) this week reluctantly asked the Legislature to set aside a measure that would have greatly loosened restrictions on killing wolves, acknowledging that passage of…

RIVERS: Ore. must revamp heat pollution enforcement -- federal judge

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

Federal agencies must revamp their monitoring of water temperature in Oregon's rivers, a federal judge ruled this week, in a decision likely to affect the logging, farming and grazing industries.…

PEOPLE: Idaho species conservation official resigns

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

Nate Fisher, the administrator of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter's (R) Office of Species Conservation, has resigned and will leave the job next week. The announcement comes just as the state…

WILDLIFE: Imperiled rattlesnakes found with pet-industry fungus

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:35:31 -0500

Biologists have determined that four imperiled, wild rattlesnakes found with disfiguring lesions at an Illinois monitoring station suffered from infection with a fungus commonly found in captive reptiles. The infected…