Using the federal Endangered Species Act as a shield rather than a sword has had some success this year.
The threat of listing brought about an incredible conservation effort by private landowners, 11 states and the federal government to protect sage grouse and a determination it didn’t need listing. On Wednesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the Southern Idaho ground squirrel, Goose Creek milkvetch, and the Great Basin population of the Columbia spotted frog were dropped from candidate species status.
The southern Idaho ground squirrel has been at a peak in their population cycle for the past several years and are well distributed throughout most of their historical range, which has led to an increase in gene flow among populations, the service said.
In 2001 the Service found the species warranted for listing, but its listing was precluded due to higher listing priorities, which resulted in it receiving candidate status. The species is native to four counties in southwest Idaho: Adams, Gem, Payette and Washington counties, with a known range of about 718,318 acres.
Idaho, private landowners and the service developed a conservation agreement that protects 9 percent of the known range of the species.
States and landowners did the same for to the Great Basin population of Columbia spotted frog. Found in Nevada, southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon, the Columbia spotted frog lives its entire life in water and faced the threat of declining water quantity and quality.
The states, federal agencies and private landowners put in place sustainable grazing practices, and created ponds for the frog. The Bureau of Land Management and the service reached conservation agreements to protect and restore imperiled Goose Creek milkvetch. The milkvetch is located primarily on federal lands in Idaho, Nevada and Utah.
These kind of agreements are going to be very important in a time of climate change. Speaking of climate change, I’m writing my column about how Idaho can be Noah’s Ark for industries facing cutbacks elsewhere because of warming and drought.
Talk to Andrus about Alaska
One last thing, Former Gov. Cecil Andrus will be on hand for a book sign for his former aide Chris Carlson, who wrote a book, “Eye of the Caribou,” about Andrus’ efforts to protect millions of acres of Alaska when he was Interior Secretary. The signing Friday from 2 p,m, to 4 p,m, at Rediscovered Books in downtown Boise gives you a change to talk to the author and Andrus.
Carlson worked for Andrus at Interior and tells the inside story of how Congress set out to protect and preserve entire eco-systems in Alaska was an 80-year story in the making starting with President Theodore Roosevelt and culminating with President Jimmy Carter signing into law the greatest piece of conservation legislation in history.