Sage-grouse Conservation Announcement 

Once seen in great numbers across the West, greater sage-grouse have declined in number over the past century because of the loss of sagebrush habitats essential for their survival and had been candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Because of an unprecedented effort by dozens of partners across 11 western states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the greater sage-grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act.

This collaborative, science-based greater sage-grouse strategy is the largest land conservation effort in U.S. history. The Fish and Wildlife Service decision validates efforts to advance large landscape conservation guided by science and honed by local knowledge. A  more detailed summary of the plans is forthcoming later this week, but the topline is clear. The federal plans will result in nearly 12 million acres of unwaivable protections and 23 million acres with stringent restrictions – that’s nearly 35 million acres of new conservation on federal lands through administrative designations and mineral withdrawals.


Idaho mountains declared federal wilderness

As seen on PBS News Hour:

A big swath of Idaho wilderness will now be protected from development, thanks to legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on Friday. The law ended a 40-year effort that was supported by environmentalists, ranchers, recreation groups and Idaho's Congressional delegation. Idaho Public Television's Rocky Barker reports.


Boulder-White Clouds Protected as Wilderness!

The 114th Congress has just passed its first wilderness designation of this session.  The legislation will protect lands within the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains of central Idaho.  The Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act (H.R. 1138), authored by Representative Mike Simpson (ID-R-2nd) and Senator Jim Risch (ID-R), was passed by both the House and Senate and protects more than 275,000 acres of world class native fish and wildlife habitat beloved by hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers.  President Obama is expected to sign this bill into law later this summer.

The 275,000 acre landscape just east of the existing Sawtooth Wilderness Area comprises delicately-balanced habitat for eight of Idaho’s big-game species, including Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat, elk, moose, and antelope.  Rare and sensitive predators also roam these mountains such as the wolverine, gray wolf, lynx, and mountain lion. 

The diverse habitat of the Boulder-White Clouds is unrivaled because it contains both summer and winter wildlife range and staggering elevation changes.  For thousands of years, salmon and steelhead have journeyed from their birth streams in the Boulder-White Clouds down to the Pacific Ocean — one of the longest salmon migration routes in the world — where they mature into adults and return to spawn. 

The area is beloved by hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers.  And the hundreds of high mountain lakes and hundreds of miles of hiking trails make the Boulder-White Clouds one of Idaho’s premier backcountry destinations. 

Read this announcement from The Wilderness Society, which includes several stunnind pictures of the area. 


Doing Energy Right

From The Widlerness Society

We need a balanced approach to our wild lands – one that balances conservation with our needs for energy – and corrects the massive imbalance on lands out west. More than 90% of Bureau of Land Management lands in the west are open to oil and gas drilling – more than 200 million acres. And only 27 million acres are protected – less than 10% of the total lands managed by the BLM. 

We need solutions that put conservation and energy on a level playing field using tools like Master Leasing Plans to take a holistic look at landscape. 

There are many lands in the west that are Too Wild to Drill – we need to make sure that BLM lands are managed for more than just energy.


Save the Arctic Refuge

Local Alaskans speak about why it's critical to preserve the Arctic Refuge as designated wilderness.


A Victory for Conservation and Communities

Image Source: The White House Blog

Today, President Obama announced the creation of three new national monuments that demonstrate the wide range of historic and cultural values that make America’s public lands so beloved. Together, the new monuments protect over one million acres of public land. With these new designations, President Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 19 national monuments. Altogether, he has protected more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any other President.

The new monuments are:

Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, a landscape containing rare biodiversity and an abundance of recreational opportunities;

Waco Mammoth in Texas, a significant paleontological site featuring well-preserved remains of 24 Columbian Mammoths; and

Basin and Range in Nevada, an iconic American landscape that includes rock art dating back 4,000 years and serves as an irreplaceable resource for archaeologists, historians, and ecologists.

The Wilderness Society, working with a coalition of local and national partners, played a leading role in the two larger lan­­dscape-scale monuments.  Both Berryessa Snow Mountain, and Basin and Range have been priority campaigns for our organization and they represent the evolution of executive level conservation for the Obama administration and its willingness to think at a landscape scale and act boldly.  The Society is working hard to reinforce and validate this move with an eye toward leveraging more like it on the horizon, and we are very optimistic about the prospect of many more great places being protected from now until the end of the administration.

These monuments will provide a boost to local economies by attracting visitors and generating more revenue and jobs for local communities, further supporting an outdoor recreation industry that already generates $646 billion in consumer spending each year. 

For example, an independent economic report found that the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument designation is likely to increase visitation and could generate an additional $26 million in economic activity for local communities over five years. 

Thank You President Obama!


Image Source: The White House Blog


Science Today: Whale Strandings

Whales are washing up dead along the northern California coast at an unprecedented rate (about twice the average for this year). What might be the cause?

My colleagues at the California Academy of Sciences have investigated the cause of each whale death and in this Science Today video, you can learn about the suspected causes of these and other animal deaths along the Northern California coastline.

Also, the Science Today mobile app makes it easier than ever to stay up-to-date on the latest science news. Science Today produces original content on a wide range of topics, from Earth, life, and sustainability to space and technology—and now you can enjoy these articles and videos anytime, anywhere.


Everybody Dance!

As the largest of the college powwows, and one of the top 10 in the nationStanford University sees 10,000 visitors a day and 250 dancers for the annual Mother’s Day weekend event. This is the university’s 44th year hosting the event and it is entirely run by students who are part of the Stanford American Indian Organization, which was created in 1972 to abolish the “Stanford Indian” mascot.

The Powwow will be held in the Eucalyptus Grove at Galvez and Campus Drives.  All events are open to the public and overnight camping spaces are available. Donations for parking are welcome.

The Stanford Powwow begins on Friday, May 8 at 7:00 PM with the first Grand Entry of dancers and continues until 10:00 PM.  On Saturday, May 9, the 19th Annual Stanford Powwow Run, a 5K race and 1 mile youth run, will begin at 8:00 AM.  Registration for the run ends at 7:40 AM. Dancing will continue from noon until 10:00 PM.  On Sunday, May 10, dancing will continue from noon until 6:00 PM.  Also open throughout the three-day event are more than 100 arts and crafts, souvenir, information, and food booths.

As a proud alumnus of Stanford's Native American Cultural Center, I look forward to this annual event and hope to see you there!


Preservation and Public Service

      Map of expanded Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Credit: NOAA

Today was a great win for preservation and public service!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is expanding the boundaries of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) to an area north and west of their current boundaries. NOAA is also revising the corresponding sanctuary terms of designation and management plans.

The expansion increases the Gulf of the Farallones from approximately 1,282 square miles to approximately 3,295 square miles, and Cordell Bank from approximately 529 square miles to approximately 1,286 square miles. The expansion will help to protect the region's marine and coastal habitats, biological resources and special ecological features.

According to the White House Blog, "NOAA’s action today reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to protecting our oceans and coasts. The ocean provides food, jobs, and opportunities for tourism and recreation for Americans all over the country. But the ocean is in trouble, facing serious threats from carbon pollution to overfishing. That’s why the President has taken action throughout his Administration to promote marine conservation and give Americans a voice in protecting areas of the sea that matter most to them."

In addition, today the U.S. Department of the Interior is launching a new volunteer network — thanks to a $5 million grant from American Express — that will triple the number of volunteers at national parks and bring the Department one step closer to 1 million volunteers a year on America's public lands.

According to the 50 Cities Initiative announcement, Secretary Jewell first outlined the goals of the youth initiative in a speech at the National Press Club in October 2013 where she emphasized the need to bridge the growing disconnect between young people and the great outdoors.

The program will roll out in 25 cities in 2015—starting today with New York City and continuing with the announcement of ten more cities in the following days (New York City, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, Washington, DC, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, St. Louis, and St. Paul). The remaining cities will be announced later this year and in 2016. For more information on the youth initiative, visit


A Monumental Trifecta

Above: At Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago, the President speaks at the designation of three new national monuments on February 19, 2015.

In a monumental trifecta, President Obama protected three environmentally, economically, and historically significant places as national monuments: Browns Canyon in Colorado, Honouliuli in Hawaii, and the historic Pullman district in Chicago, Illinois. 

An important victory for the conservation community, the Presidential Proclamation of Browns Canyon, Colorado's 8th national monument, proclaimes that it has been protected for its "wealth of scientifically significant geological, ecological, riparian, cultural, and historic resources, and is an important area for studies of paleoecology, mineralogy, archaeology, and climate change." 

The proclamation also notes: "The protection of the Browns Canyon area will preserve its prehistoric and historic legacy and maintain its diverse array of scientific resources, ensuring that the prehistoric, historic, and scientific values remain for the benefit of all Americans. The area also provides world class river rafting and outdoor recreation opportunities, including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, and horseback riding."

According to a blog post by The Wilderness Society, "Browns Canyon is an outdoor recreation mecca and one of Colorado’s most treasured landscapes. The area is well known for its whitewater rafting, fishing and hiking. This spectacular outdoor playground generates more than $55 million per year in economic activity for the local economy... It's no wonder why 77 percent of Coloradans support protecting Browns Canyon as a national monument.

The President also designated Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii and Pullman National Monument in Chicago. According to a statement by The Wilderness Society:

"The Honouliuli camp on the island of O'ahu was the last, largest and longest operating internment camp during World War II. By acknowledging past injustices, this site honors the experiences of those interned and allows us to enlighten future generations.

The historic Pullman district in Chicago honors a unique, shared legacy that is integrally connected to the push for fair labor conditions and civil rights. The community represents the first model industrial town in America."

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