Regulators, landowners form habitat conservation partnerships

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Biden administration and industry groups pledged Thursday to boost logging practices and research aimed at protecting endangered species on private forest lands.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and two forest products organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding promising to collaborate on projects that could boost struggling populations of pollinating insects, birds, fish and mammals.

“This underscores the importance of private forest owners contributing to wildlife and natural resource conservation,” said service director Martha Williams, describing the arrangement as a “model of voluntary cooperation.”

It was among several initiatives President Joe Biden announced this week to address wildlife habitat loss — a major cause of population decline, according to a 2019 United Nations report that said nearly 1 million plant and animal species worldwide are at risk of extinction.

The agreement between the government, the National Forest Owners Alliance and the National Air and Stream Improvement Council aims to stop a “historic pattern of costly litigation and counterproductive conflict” between the industry and regulators, said Eric Breitling, a spokesman for the alliance.

It comes after the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a rule in February that would encourage voluntary conservation projects on private land. Partly to protect owners if their actions kill or harm a small number of endangered species.

The memorandum formally recognizes the Wildlife Conservation Initiative, a partnership with 14 research projects underway in the US. They focus on species, including the redwood turtle in the Pacific Northwest, the western lake turtle in the Southwest, the wood turtle in the Midwest, and diversity. Oriental butterflies and migratory birds.

READ ALSO -  Powerball jackpot fan ticket sales record $1.6 billion

The primary goal is to cut and plant trees in a way that allows landowners to make money but avoid further harm to wildlife that could cause the agency to list them as threatened or endangered, said Dave Tenney, president of the Forest Alliance.

Its nearly 50 member companies own and manage more than 46 million hectares (18.6 million acres) of forest land.

One example of how partnerships can succeed, Tenney said, is the gopher tortoise. Last year, the Fish and Wildlife Service decided not to list the reptile’s populations in four southern states as endangered. The service cited conservation work that helped make the action unnecessary.

Forest Alliance landowners have invited the agency’s experts to study areas where the turtles live and recommend practices such as opening the canopy to allow sunlight to reach the ground and promote the growth of vegetation they need, Tenney said.

“A lot of times, the Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t know what’s going on on private land,” he said. “Just letting them in … is a big start in itself.”

Two environmental groups – the Center for Biological Diversity and Nokuse Education – said they would sue on Wednesday The government decided not to announce the turtle in the list.

They said turtle protection in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and eastern Alabama was inadequate. Tortoises have lost 97% of the longleaf pine savannas where they lived for millions of years in the South. They are listed as endangered in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and western Alabama.

READ ALSO -  North Dakota House Passes School Gender Pronoun Ban

“Without the Endangered Species Act’s protections for our gopher tortoises, urban sprawl will further drive them to extinction,” said attorney Alice Bennett, Florida director of the center.


Follow John Flesher on Twitter: @JohnFlesher


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

Follow WT LOCAL on Social Media for the Latest News and Updates.
Share this news on your Facebook,Twitter and Whatsapp.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter