Page 8 - Flathead Beacon // 4.27.16
P. 8

Groups Sue Over Bull Trout Recovery Plan Lawsuit accuses Fish and Wildlife Service of Endangered Species Act violations
A pair of environmental groups on April 19  led a lawsuit against the federal government alleging that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan to recover threatened bull trout is inadequate and violates the Endangered Species Act.
The groups, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan, challenged the agency’s  nal recovery plan in U.S. District Court in Oregon, saying that it “fails to ensure the long- term survival and recovery.”
Bull trout were listed under the Endangered Species Act as “threatened” in 1999, and the FWS’ plan to recover the species is more than 15 years in the making.
The plan,  nalized last September, immediately drew criticism from conser- vation groups who for two decades have been at the vanguard of legal challenges on the road toward bull trout recovery.
Michael Garrity, executive director of Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said bull trout lost an estimated 60 percent of their historic habitat range prior to the species’ listing, mostly due to human- caused impacts such as habitat degrada- tion and fragmentation due to roads, cul- verts and dams, poor water quality, the introduction of nonnative species that outcompete the bull trout, and climate change, which is increasingly compro- mising the cold-water habitat the species requires for survival.
Without litigation, Garrity said, the
native species would be in even hotter water.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has dragged its feet on bull trout for over 20 years now and the sad truth is that the only actions the agency has taken to keep these iconic native  sh from going extinct are those the court has mandated due to lawsuits by conservationists over the decades,” Garrity said in a statement.
A spokesperson with FWS said the agency wouldn’t comment on pending litigation, but biologists with the federal agency have defended the plan as real- istic given the challenges presented by
climate change, many of which will be di cult to mitigate.
A central sticking point in the FWS’ recovery plan is its departure from other recovery plans in that it does not rely on target numbers of adult bull trout as a barometer of success, raising concerns that the barometer for “recovery” is too broad.
Instead, the plan focuses on alleviat- ing speci c threats to the species’ habi- tat and genetic diversity, while accepting that as much as 25 percent of the trout populations will face extirpation in the face of climate change.
“This plan allows bull trout
populations to decline even further and doesn’t address the looming threat of climate change,” said Arlene Montgom- ery, program director for Friends of the Wild Swan. “Our detailed comments that included relevant science and threats facing bull trout were ignored and the Service is continuing on a path that will lead to less  sh than when they were listed. That’s not recovery.”
Garrity said the federal agency’s omis- sion of population criteria is among the plan’s most glaring de ciencies.
“They’re essentially rede ning recov- ery so they can list bull trout as recov- ered,” Garrity said. “They’ve lowered the bar so much with this plan that there is no way they can’t achieve recovery. They rede ned recovery to essentially mean extinction.”
The ultimate goal of the ESA is to remove a species from the list, but a recovery plan must  rst be in place to ensure that once the measure’s protec- tive umbrella is removed, management requirements are in place so that the species will not again become imperiled.
The proposed plan’s overall strategy calls for widespread population distribu- tion throughout six geographical areas in the Northwest, and would achieve that by minimizing threats from non-native  sh, such as invasive lake trout, improv- ing bull trout habitat and continuing to study the species in order to identify other stressors.
County Attorney Denies Initial Petition to Recall Libby County o cials said petition was not speci c enough, woman who  led it will have second chance
Lincoln County o cials said that a petition to recall Libby Mayor Doug Roll was not speci c enough and that the woman who  led it would have to try again.
Election Administrator Leigh Riggle- man said the petition  led on April 13 by Tammy Brown was reviewed by the county attorney, who determined that the accusations were too broad. The peti- tion application has since been returned to Brown.
In her petition, Brown stated that Roll violated his oath of o ce and the law because he has refused to schedule
meetings or address items brought up by the city council. Brown also alleged that Roll bypassed the council to appoint a new city attorney.
“Doug Roll has demonstrated his incompetence by continually failing to perform his duties, as spelled out in the city charter,” the petition reads.
Roll has denied that he violated the city charter and his oath of o ce.
If Brown decides to re- le her peti- tion and it is approved she would have to gather 329 signatures – representing 20 percent of Libby’s registered voters – within 90 days to force a recall election.
The petition for recall is just the latest drama on Libby’s city council in the last
few years.
For years, many of the issues have
stemmed from the dysfunctional rela- tionship between Roll and Councilor Allen Olsen. But recently, disagree- ments have developed between Roll and other councilors, speci cally Brent Teske, Dejon Raines and Brian Zimmer- man, all of whom have asked Roll to step down as mayor. In previous interviews with the Beacon, both Raines and Zim- merman criticized the mayor for how he’s conducted city business. Raines said Roll has canceled city council meetings even though the government board has important work to do, like con rming the mayor’s city attorney appointment and
 xing the  re department’s sagging roof. If the recall e ort were to move for- ward it would be the second recall e ort to target a mayor in Lincoln County in four years. In 2012, a Troy city councilor  led a recall petition against the late Donald Banning, alleging the mayor had repeatedly abused his power by approv- ing contracts and  ring city employees without council consent. Banning  led a restraining order against the petition in district court but a judge ruled the recall election would go forward. In May 2012, Banning was recalled by a vote of 190 for
removal and 123 against.

   6   7   8   9   10