State lawmakers urge feds to move on lynx recovery | SummitDaily.com
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State lawmakers urge feds to move on lynx recovery

Bob Berwyn
Summit Daily News

SUMMIT COUNTY ” With Colorado’s lynx re-introduction program showing early signs of suceess, state lawmakers want the federal government to stop dragging its feet and complete a recovery plan that would provide a road map for ultimately delisting the wild cat, listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

A joint resolution in the Colorado House and Senate urges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to “promptly adopt a formal recovery plan for the Canada lynx that clearly identifies recovery goals and the steps required to achieve recovery of this native Colorado cat.”

House Joint Resolution 06-1022 has broad co-sponsorship from across the state, but it’s not clear if the Legislature will get around to voting on the measure during the last few hectic days of the session.

“The Division of Wildlife has worked long and hard to effectively do the reintroduction program only to be thwarted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service … bureaucracy,” said State Rep. Gary Lindstrom of Breckenridge. “I am getting sick and tired of the anti-environmental attitude of the federal government. It is my understanding that the opponents (of the House resolution) now are the sheep growers. I think that their fears are not well founded and that they are being obstructionists. We need to move forward post haste,” Lindstrom said. “Even if the lynx is delisted there must be a recovery program before that happens. It appears that the federal government is not doing anything or enough to assist in the recovery program.”

Federal action on lynx recovery has been bogged down in a morass of adminstrative and legal proceedings, including a painfully slow effort by the U.S. Forest Service to develop a set of forest plan standards and guidelines for national forests in the Southern Rockies where lynx roam.

The agency has been working on those measures for about six years, with leadership of the project being handed around like a hot potato.

Most recently, the fish and wildlife service, responsible for managing endangered and threatened species, released ” under order of a federal judge ” a draft critical habitat plan that didn’t include Colorado and the rest of the Southern Rockies.

State lawmakers are not looking for a critical habitat designation in Colorado.

In fact, the hope is that a clearly defined recovery plan that acknowledges Colorado’s reintroduction program could lead to a de-listing, a move that would remove the potential for any draconian land use restrictions.

Conservation groups, on the other hand, say that protecting habitat is the key missing piece of the lynx recovery puzzle.

Protected habitat is needed to enable a connection among pods of lynx populations to create functional metapopulations and to protect against foreseeable threats like global climate change, highway expansions and development in lynx habitat, including ski area expansions, oil and gas drilling, as well as logging and mining, a coalition of conservation groups wrote in a formal comment letter on the draft federal habitat plan.

Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.


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