Category Archives: Conservation
HB 1576 is not dead!
The deceptively named “Endangered Species Coordination Act” (HB 1576) is still in the Game and Fisheries Committee, which may vote on the bill November 13. It has been amended, so your representative may argue that the problematic parts of the bill were “fixed,” but that is far from the truth.
It is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, appearing to help improve our species protection program, but in actuality it would slow it down tremendously, preventing timely protection for species found to be in decline. The bill is still designed to slow up the designation process for all species and makes headwater trout streams more vulnerable to impairment. Among other habitats that will be at greater risk of destruction, this bill will make it easier for Marcellus gas drilling companies and other industries to fragment our fragile songbird nurseries in PA’s remaining large blocks of forests.
Following are a few of the key problems with the AMENDED bill:
- Species status changes would have to go through the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC). The fact that the IRRC will be listing species instead of the PGC and PFBC means that the listing will be a political process, instead of being based on sound science. The IRRC process is slow, politicized and redundant to Commission Boards! As a result, it would delay protections for species that need them most. Although other agencies go through IRRC, no others have to go through an independent Board and then ALSO the IRRC.
- The bill still calls for creation a new database of endangered and threatened species information. This would put sensitive species information at risk, and also is redundant to the existing database (PNDI). Why create a new database? Even the “Right to Know Act” understood that threatened and endangered species information should not be released!
- A new provision is proposed: agencies would be “prohibited from using or transferring to another state agency revenues generated through the sale of hunting or fishing licenses or federal funds for the administration of this act” — This is unrelated to the issue at hand. Added administrative burdens would be put on state agencies by this bill, and this provision seems to prohibit the very resources needed to complete this work! This new provision seems designed to tie the hands of species protection!
- Language still jeopardizes the Fish and Boat’s ability to designate “wild trout streams.” Sensitive headwater streams receive important protection by this designation – don’t undermine it!
Please contact your PA House Representative, especially if they are serving on the House Game and Fisheries Committee: Harold English (part of Allegheny Co.); Mindy Fee (Lancaster); Marcia Hahn (Northampton); Michael Peifer (Monroe, Pike & Wayne); Keith Gillespie (York), and John Galloway (Bucks).
Your state representatives depend on where you live. Find them using the “find your legislators” feature at: http://www2.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/findyourlegislator/find.cfm.
We want species protected based on sound science determined by biologists in the PA Game Commission and the PA Fish and Boat Commission, not through the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).
As always, even a simple call in opposition would help. THANK YOU for anything you can do.
The Northern Tier Hardwood Association (NTHA) will be presenting a training program on “Establishing Golden-winged Warbler Habitat” at the Wayne Conservation District office/Reining Farm on October 26, 2013. The course is geared toward loggers, foresters and landowners interested in establishing Golden-winged Warbler habitat.
Carl Graybill, Habitat Biologist Contractor for the Wildlife Management Institute, has partnered with Emily Bellush of the Natural Resource Conservation Services in creating a workshop that will enhance your knowledge of the Golden-winged Warbler and American Woodcock. The goal is to facilitate and maintain good forest practices while establishing Golden-winged Warbler and American Woodcock habitat. It is important to note that this training also provides habitat for other young forest dependent wildlife species such as: white-tailed deer, bobcat, ruffed grouse, wild turkey and many other songbird species.
After the training there will be a field walk with stations provided by Sarah Hall (WCD), John Maza (DCNR), Darren Wolfgang, and Carl Graybill on various management practices.
This event is not sponsored by Northeast PA Audubon. We are helping to promote this event as a public service.
Pennsylvania’s rare species are under attack. The deceptively named “Endangered Species Coordination Act” (HB 1576 and its Senate companion, SB 1047) would gut the ability of our state natural resource agencies to list and protect rare plants and animals; essentially only those species listed by the federal government would be covered.
Osprey, Short-eared Owl, Peregrine Falcon, and Common Tern (clockwise from top-left) are just a few of the bird species in Pennsylvania threatened by this legislation.
Among other things, the passage of these bills would:
- Result in PA losing $27 million in federal wildlife restoration funds, representing up to a third the budgets of the Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission. This is money we get to help protect important habitat including pristine trout streams.
- Place the fate of endangered and threatened species in Pennsylvania in the hands of politicians instead of where it should be, with scientists and resource experts. These bills essentially politicize a process that was intended to be free from political influence; they serve only to appease industry at the expense of the environment. The politician who introduced the bill in the Pennsylvania legislature, State Representative Jeffrey Pyle, told the Lancaster Intelligencer exactly who this bill is designed to protect: “For as good as they (Pennsylvania Game Commission) are for achieving their mission, they run into problems when it overlaps other priorities, like jobs, coal, gas and lumber.”
- Require any action to list a species as threatened or endangered to first go through the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) for approval. The current process for listing a species is efficient, transparent, scientifically accurate, and takes only 6 months. The new proposed process would add an unnecessary and costly level of bureaucracy, taking 4 times as long to complete (2 years). In some cases, 2 years is too slow to save a species from extinction.
- Make it much more difficult to protect high-quality trout streams by requiring the designation of such streams to also go through the IRRC for approval. Pennsylvania’s trout streams are highly valued by residents in addition to being one of the core of recreational activities that benefits tourism in the state.
- Place further strain on state agencies already operating on reduced budgets by calling for the creation of a centralized database to replace the decades-old computerized system of endangered species and fauna, without designating the funds to establish such a database.
- Require the state natural resource agencies to provide a virtual roadmap to the location of species that are often targeted for illegal sale and trade (via the above-mentioned database). The legislation requires access to the centralized database to be shared with various outside entities. Insofar that many endangered and threatened species have substantial value on the black market, this will increase the risk of unlawful taking of these species.
Take Action Now
Please call or send an email directly to your state representatives stating your opposition to this legislation.
Your state representatives depend on where you live. Follow the links below to find your legislators.