Date: 8/24/17 10:15 am
From: Mike Judd (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...>
Subject: Re: Important conservation issues
It may be that by laying out a brief sum of money (virtually nothing
compared to what we spend on bins, scopes, birding trips, etc.) and joining
groups such as Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Friends of
the Earth, etc., etc. you can pick up on the action alerts. I know it is
hard to stay on top of a lot of these issues and have a life as well but
making the phone call, writing the email to Congress, signing the petition
takes very little time & effort. I was certainly heartened by seeing the
President of the ABA down in Texas protesting the destruction of the
national butterfly center and other important wildlife habitat by the heavy
hand of misguided attempt to protect us in the us with the very ill-advised
Others likely know of other advocacy groups beyond what I mentioned. And I
thank the moderator(s) for allowing this conversation to go a ways.
Mike Judd
Brevard but soon to Tucson :-)

On Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 12:37 PM, Betsy Kane <carolinabirds...> wrote:

> Russ,
> Thank you for these details. I want to take action, but I don't have time
> to dig deep into the issues or figure out the process from scratch, as I am
> committed to other efforts. Would it be possible for you to advise, or can
> someone you know advise, on specific actions to be taken when the time is
> right? I would be extremely grateful and ready to call or submit comments
> if I could know 1) what to say (very briefly) 2) when to say it, and 3)
> who to say it to.
> Betsy Kane
> Raleigh
> On Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 8:30 AM, Russ Oates <carolinabirds...>
> wrote:
>> Maggie,
>> Thank you for your response. You are absolutely right about the EPA. I
>> was remiss in omitting the EPA from my comments on "Continuity of Executive
>> Branch Natural Resource Management." Administrator Pruitt is intent on
>> destroying the agency. His efforts to remove science from the decision
>> making process are dumbfounding. We should prepare for deadly smog and
>> burning rivers....the clock is turning back to the 1950s.
>> Truly overwhelming...
>> Russ
>> On Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 7:46 AM, Maggie Strickland <
>> <gallinasviejas...> wrote:
>>> Russ,
>>> Thank you so much for this clear and specific information. While most of
>>> my recent contacts with our senators and representatives has concerned
>>> other matters, I am horrified at the sweeping changes at the EPA. The
>>> wholesale retreat from preservation and conservation is so disheartening. I
>>> promise I will take action on these issues.
>>> Sincerely,
>>> Maggie Strickland
>>> Harmony, Maine
>>> On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 8:39 PM, Russ Oates <carolinabirds...>
>>> wrote:
>>>> CBC Members,
>>>> There are several nationally or internationally important bird-related
>>>> issues in Alaska that are currently approaching decision points in the
>>>> Congress and/or the Executive Branch. Given the anti-conservation
>>>> statements and actions of the current Administration and the likely
>>>> willingness by the Congress to follow suit, I am asking you to review these
>>>> issues and to consider contacting the appropriate Executive Branch agencies
>>>> and especially your US Congressional delegation to encourage them to act on
>>>> the side of responsible conservation. Many of these issues will be
>>>> decided in the US Senate. Currently-proposed legislation and
>>>> executive actions will cause irreparable damage to Important Bird Areas.
>>>> Much is at stake.
>>>> A significant proportion of members from both parties in Congress are
>>>> conservationists at heart but the Republicans will be under severe pressure
>>>> to roll back environmental protections nationwide. We only need 3
>>>> Republican senators to vote against an ill-advised development project or
>>>> management action to block it, so your calls or letters to your US
>>>> Congressional Delegation could be crucial.
>>>> Alaska is a hugely-important nesting area for birds from all four North
>>>> American flyways (especially Pacific and Central) as well as the East
>>>> Asia/Australasia and East Asia/East Africa flyways. Bird band reports
>>>> (returns) have shown that some of the Tundra Swans and at least 4 species
>>>> of ducks that breed in Alaska also spend the winter in NC. Although I
>>>> couldn’t easily check banding data for other species, AK and NC share at
>>>> least 16 species of shorebirds. Also, Alaska has historically been a
>>>> safe haven for species depleted elsewhere in their ranges (for example:
>>>> Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, Peregrine Falcons) and for many years
>>>> provided eggs and/or young to the lower 48 states for restoration.
>>>> I present each issue by identifying it, followed by the desired outcome.
>>>> This will be followed by a brief explanation of what’s at stake and why
>>>> there is an issue. If you need more information, you can Google
>>>> Audubon Alaska or the names of the locations of concern.
>>>> *ISSUES:*
>>>> 1) *Issue:* Beaufort/Chukchi Sea (off the north shore of Alaska)
>>>> offshore petroleum drilling.
>>>> *Desired outcome:* Block offshore development in Chukchi and Beaufort
>>>> seas.
>>>> I know of no oil spill anywhere in an area of broken or solid ice cover
>>>> on marine water that was effectively cleaned up or even contained. *Current
>>>> spill clean up technology doesn’t work in ice-choked waters. * Historically,
>>>> ice has been present in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas more than 200 days
>>>> per year. In addition to the threats to whales, seals, and polar
>>>> bears, an offshore or nearshore spill occurring in late winter or early
>>>> spring poses a tremendous threat to at least 2 million spring-migrating
>>>> Long-tailed Ducks and King and Common eiders. Also threatened would be
>>>> Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed “Threatened” Spectacled and Steller’s
>>>> eiders (the entire North American breeding population of Steller’s Eiders)
>>>> and ESA listed “Warranted But Precluded” Yellow-billed Loon. Large
>>>> numbers of many species of shorebirds, gulls, terns, and jaegers would be
>>>> at risk from floating oil and oiled shorelines. Here is the nightmare
>>>> scenario: We know that essentially all of the bird species mentioned
>>>> move to northern breeding grounds as early in spring as conditions will
>>>> allow. These birds fly north along the Bering Sea coastline and turn
>>>> east into the Chukchi, using any open water patches to rest and feed while
>>>> enroute to their breeding grounds in arctic Alaska and Canada. If a
>>>> spill occurs at an offshore rig or seabed pipeline in late winter or early
>>>> spring, the floating portion of the spill could be waiting as a death trap
>>>> there for the migrating birds. This could affect tens to hundreds of
>>>> thousands of birds and there could be no way to stop the spill, clean up
>>>> the spill, or rescue birds. There is clearly potential for population
>>>> level impacts on several species (at a minimum: King Eider, Spectacled
>>>> Eider, Steller’s Eider, Common Eider, Yellow-billed Loon).
>>>> 2) *Issue:* Opening the Teshekpuk Lake Goose Molting area to oil
>>>> development. *Desired outcome:* Maintain the moratorium on development
>>>> of this area.
>>>> Teshekpuk Lake, the second-largest lake in Alaska, is located within
>>>> the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska (NPRA,
>>>> administered by Bureau of Land Management), and sits about 15 miles south
>>>> of the western Beaufort Sea coastline (175 miles west of Arctic National
>>>> Wildlife Refuge). The 200+ lakes loosely clustered between Teshekpuk Lake
>>>> and the coastline constitute the largest arctic goose molting resort in
>>>> North America, supporting multiple species of flightless molting birds
>>>> (Mid-continent White-fronted Geese, Pacific Black Brant, Lesser Snow Geese,
>>>> and Cackling Geese) for several critical months each summer. Frequently,
>>>> up to 100,000 geese molt in these lakes. During the annual wing molt,
>>>> these birds are exceptionally sensitive to disturbance, and an
>>>> on-the-ground research scientist during the 1970s reported birds reacting
>>>> (avoidance behavior) to a person walking across the board-flat tundra at a
>>>> distance of one mile. With that high level of sensitivity, it’s no
>>>> wonder that the geese picked one of the most remote locations in Alaska to
>>>> undergo the 2-3 week flightless period. The area appeared to be
>>>> secure from large-scale disturbance until winter seismic work revealed the
>>>> possibility of extensive oil deposits directly under the molting area.
>>>> I have seen a detailed proposed development scenario prepared by the
>>>> petroleum industry that I strongly believe would result in the complete
>>>> abandonment of the molting area. Over the years, scientists (from
>>>> government and conservation organizations) have successfully defended this
>>>> important molting area against several industry and pro-development
>>>> administration attempts to open it for oil development. I credit
>>>> Audubon Alaska with leading the effort that resulted in the latest stay of
>>>> execution. During the Obama Administration, a ten-year moratorium on
>>>> development was instituted in this area to protect the geese, shorebirds
>>>> and the 60,000-head Teshekpuk Lake Caribou Herd’s calving area. Due
>>>> to the intense pressure from the current administration to open currently
>>>> closed areas of Alaska to petroleum development, it is very likely that the
>>>> moratorium will be cancelled.
>>>> 3) *Issue:* Opening the Coastal Plain (commonly referred to as the
>>>> “1002 {ten oh two} area”) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to
>>>> oil exploration and development.
>>>> *Desired outcome:* Protect the entire Coastal Plain area of Arctic
>>>> National Wildlife Refuge with wilderness designation.
>>>> The coastal plain portion of ANWR is approximately 1.5 million acres in
>>>> size, and represents about 5% of the coastal plain north of the Brooks
>>>> Range. *Virtually all of the 95% not within the Refuge is already
>>>> open for oil exploration and development. * Giving this relatively
>>>> small area Wilderness status would permanently protect a complete arctic
>>>> ecosystem from the shoreline on the Beaufort Sea coastline, south across
>>>> the coastal plain, through the foothills and the north slope of the Brooks
>>>> Range (it’s all tundra from the divide north to the Beaufort Sea), and
>>>> sweeping down the south slope to the boreal forests and the northern
>>>> floodplain of the Yukon River. Most of this area looks as it has for
>>>> thousands of years, and it is ecologically complete and intact with a full
>>>> suite of life including a complex of top-level predators. Why would
>>>> it hurt to develop the coastal plain portion? The coastal plain is
>>>> *the* calving area for the 150,000-strong Porcupine Caribou Herd, a
>>>> herd that is a vitally important subsistence resource for the Gwichin
>>>> Athabascan Indians that live south of the Brooks Range in Alaska and Yukon
>>>> Territories (where the caribou herd winters). The herd concentrates
>>>> on the coastal plain during a mass birthing in late June/early July, and
>>>> the cows tend to their young and try to protect them from a whole host of
>>>> predators (brown bears, wolves, wolverines, and Golden Eagles converge for
>>>> this annual feast.) The caribou are also an important subsistence resource
>>>> (second to bowhead whales) for the Inupiat Eskimos of the Alaska North
>>>> Slope. Despite the deliberate misrepresentations of the affected area
>>>> (particularly by former Secretary of Interior under George W. Bush) and
>>>> research done on caribou response to oil pipelines (by multiple
>>>> pro-development administrations), a prominent caribou researcher told me
>>>> that pregnant females and females with calves stay away from oil pipelines
>>>> (based on work done in the Prudhoe Bay area). A spider web of
>>>> pipelines connecting production wells, and associated structures and
>>>> airfields, would likely have dire long-term consequences for the herd and
>>>> associated predator populations (not to mention the subsistence hunters).
>>>> The coastal plain is also an important migration area for Yellow-billed
>>>> Loons and nesting and migration habitat for a host of different shorebird
>>>> species (for example: Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover,
>>>> American Golden Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper,
>>>> Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Stilt Sandpiper, Red and
>>>> Red-necked Phalaropes, Bar-tailed Godwit, and Baird’s Sandpiper.) The
>>>> coastal plain is important in some years for as many as 350,000 Lesser Snow
>>>> Geese (that nested in a western Canada colony) to fatten on sedge rhizomes
>>>> before migrating south.
>>>> 4) *Issue:* Approval of the Pebble Mine.
>>>> *Desired outcome:* Maintain the EPA position protecting the area from
>>>> mining and provide permanent protection to the watershed.
>>>> Pebble is a massive mining project proposed for Alaska state lands in
>>>> the middle of the watershed containing the spawning area of the largest
>>>> sockeye salmon stock in the world (and the other 4 species of salmon as
>>>> well). In addition, sockeye hatchlings live 1-2 years in connected
>>>> lakes until they are large enough to go out to sea. Roughly half of
>>>> the world’s wild-caught salmon comes from Bristol Bay. If developed,
>>>> the mine will be the largest mine in North America and the highly toxic
>>>> tailings will be stored behind the largest earthen dam in the world (over
>>>> 700 feet tall and several miles long.) This is a seismically active
>>>> area, and independent scientists doubt whether the dam would survive a
>>>> major earthquake on the order of the one that severely damaged Anchorage
>>>> and several other southcentral Alaska coastal communities in 1964. Needless
>>>> to say, the failure of this dam would be catastrophic for the salmon and
>>>> potentially for the many species of marine birds (including Emperor Geese
>>>> and ESA listed Steller’s Eiders) that use Bristol Bay as a foraging area
>>>> during migration.) After extensive investigations, this area was
>>>> declared by the EPA to be too valuable and vulnerable to mine, but the
>>>> Trump administration resurrected the project. If you like to eat wild
>>>> salmon or support sustainable management of wild salmon, you have a dog in
>>>> this fight. Please, take a moment to check out this web site:
>>>> <>
>>>> 5) *Issue:* The State National Forest Management Act of 2017 (SNFMA)
>>>> and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Transfer Act (AMHT).
>>>> *Desired outcome:* Defeat both bills.
>>>> SNFMA, (HR 232, sponsored by Rep. Don Young of Alaska) was introduced
>>>> in January of this year. I don’t understand all of the details, but I
>>>> read the text and this is my take: While there are some specific Alaska
>>>> provisions, much of the bill applies to all states and national forests in
>>>> North and South Carolina could be profoundly affected. As written,
>>>> this bill would allow each state to select up to 2,000,000 acres of
>>>> National Forest within their respective state boundaries for transfer to
>>>> state ownership and management with the mandate to supply the needs of all
>>>> wood processing operations in the state. Potentially, 100% of NC’s
>>>> 1.255 million acres of National Forest could be transferred to the state.
>>>> This legislation would also permit mining in the “former” national forests.
>>>> AMHT, sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski, has been developed in the
>>>> Senate to the point that it can be added as a rider to another, more urgent
>>>> bill. The bill is intended to allow the transfer of old growth
>>>> acreage to private (Alaska Native) corporations in exchange for their
>>>> corporate-owned logged-over areas. This will facilitate the rapid
>>>> destruction of the magnificent old growth trees, some of which are more
>>>> than 1,000 years old.
>>>> The Alaska congressional delegation has, for decades, done everything
>>>> in their power to open up the remaining old growth trees of the magnificent
>>>> Tongass National Forest to logging. Only 3% of the Tongass is old growth,
>>>> so we must act now to save it.
>>>> 6) *Issue:* Building a road to the village of King Cove through the
>>>> Designated Wilderness portion of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
>>>> *Desired outcome*: Prevent the road from being built.
>>>> Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, one of Alaska’s oldest refuges, is
>>>> the principal fall staging area for essentially 100% of the Pacific Black
>>>> Brant population. The area is also a vital staging area for Emperor
>>>> Geese, which winter to the west on the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian
>>>> Islands and breed almost exclusively to the north on the Yukon Delta
>>>> National Wildlife Refuge. Izembek lagoon provides lush eelgrass beds
>>>> that allow the brant to accumulate huge amounts of body fat (nearly
>>>> doubling their weight) necessary to enable the birds to survive the 60+
>>>> hour direct flight to overwintering areas principally in the bays of the
>>>> Pacific coast of Baja and mainland Mexico. Most of the historic wintering
>>>> areas on the west coast of the Lower 48 states have been destroyed or
>>>> dramatically reduced by dredging and other development.
>>>> Never since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964 has a designated
>>>> Wilderness Area been compromised for the purpose of road construction.
>>>> A federal Judge ruled in 2015 in favor of the Department of Interior’s
>>>> decision to deny permission for construction of the road. The US
>>>> House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would open the
>>>> area to road construction. This bill sets a very dangerous precedent
>>>> by potentially opening the door to road construction in Wilderness Areas
>>>> nationwide. *The bill now goes to the Senate where we will have our
>>>> final chance to defeat it.* Please contact your US Senators and
>>>> encourage them to protect the Refuge.
>>>> Read more at the following site:
>>>> U&h=ATMupmgV-v_gK4pynARMjWZyRCHtlXoqa7HSyzJ7Eavxean6O-cr04Ho
>>>> hyVXHZ_oF7nxNLuA34P3lHvMs55XcmyuWsxwFL30mx32Pkg_QoLMSrT5MESK
>>>> ygZxJ5oqNn1lyGzfHnR37nhUVShgv23woUDpVuyhOmuUCZtb0MhUtBu8GzaU
>>>> UVn1wDC28--kUtg
>>>> <>
>>>> 7) *Issue:* Climate change.
>>>> *Desired outcome:* The US fully engages in the Paris Climate Change
>>>> Accords.
>>>> Alaska is home to vast amounts of glacial ice, sea ice, and permafrost.
>>>> If these melt, and they certainly are melting at this point, they will
>>>> make a huge contribution to a warming climate. The threat of melting
>>>> permafrost is probably least known by the public. When permafrost
>>>> melts, it releases not only carbon dioxide the but also large amounts of
>>>> methane (molecule for molecule, far more problematic than carbon dioxide.)
>>>> The consequences of extensive permafrost melting across the northern
>>>> hemisphere are unthinkable.
>>>> 8) *Issue:* Continuity of Executive Branch Natural Resource
>>>> Management.
>>>> *Desired Outcome:* Full funding for natural resource conservation
>>>> functions for Department of Interior (especially US Fish and Wildlife
>>>> Service, US National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management)
>>>> Department of Agriculture (US Forest Service and the Farm Bill) and
>>>> Department of Energy; cessation of the “reshuffling” of senior leadership
>>>> positions among agencies; retain the designations of the National Monuments
>>>> currently under “review” by Secretary of the Interior Zinke.
>>>> In my recent summer trip to Alaska to visit family, I visited with
>>>> former colleagues from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and learned that
>>>> the President’s budget as well as statements and actions by the top
>>>> administrators in EPA, Energy, and Interior send clear signals of a desire
>>>> to significantly damage or eliminate important federal conservation
>>>> programs. Interior Secretary Zinke has engaged in a policy of
>>>> shuffling occupants of senior leadership positions, removing leaders from
>>>> areas of expertise and placing them in positions in other agencies that do
>>>> not relate to their experience or training. Clearly, the intent is to
>>>> cripple the agencies at the top, create chaos, and stop them from
>>>> conducting and disseminating scientifically rigorous science that is
>>>> inconvenient to the Administration’s ideology. The extent of this
>>>> effort is beyond anything I saw in my 31 year federal career.
>>>> I regret the great length of this post. These are incredibly
>>>> difficult times. There is so much at stake! Thank you for any help that you
>>>> can provide!
>>>> Russ Oates (USFWS Alaska, Retired)
>>>> Burnsville, NC
>>>> --
>>>> *Conserve wild things, protect wild places.*
>> --
>> *Conserve wild things, protect wild places.*

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