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Trump opens habitat for endangered owl to harvest timber

Environmentalists said that claim was not supported by the agency’s own evidence. In December, the Fish and Wildlife Service ruled that the northern spotted owl should in fact be reclassified, as endangered rather than threatened, but the agency said it would not take action to do so because that it had “higher priority actions”.

Now the administration is removing essential protection, say scientists.

The northern spotted owl lives in forests with a dense, multi-layered canopy and other characteristics that take 150 to 200 years to develop, the Fish and Wildlife Service said. They usually mate for life and reproduce relatively slowly. Threatened by logging and land conversion, they were protected in 1990 after a bitter political struggle, but their numbers have continued to decline by about 4 percent a year on average, according to the service.

Although the preserved habitat offers “some protection,” the Oregon service executive wrote on its website, “past trends suggest that much of the remaining unprotected habitat could be lost in 10 to 30 years. To make matters worse, the barred owl of the eastern United States presented a new challenge, entering its habitat and vying for the same resources. Forest fires aggravated by climate change are a growing threat.

The forestry industry claims the federal government is protecting millions of acres of forest that is not occupied by owls. In April, the American Forest Resource Council, a regional industry group that lobbies for logging on public lands, announced it had reached an agreement with the service that would launch a reassessment of the protected habitat of the owl. In August, after what the service called “a review of the best scientific and commercial information available,” it proposed to reduce the protected area by about 205,000 acres.

The forestry group applauded the much larger reduction announced on Wednesday that opens more than three million acres.

“This rule will better align critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl with actual habitat, federal laws, and modern forest science at a time when unprecedented and severe wildfires threaten both owls and people. from northern California to Washington state, ”Travis Joseph, president of the Forest Resources Council, said in a statement.

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Monarch butterflies will not be classified as endangered despite meeting criteria

The monarch butterfly is threatened with extinction, but will not come under federal protection because other species are a higher priority, federal officials said Tuesday.

Monarchs have long captured human hearts, floating through courtyards, parks and fields on wings that resemble miniature works of art. But their numbers have been decimated by weather events fueled by climate change, combined with widespread habitat loss in the United States.

“We conducted a thorough and thorough review using a rigorous and transparent scientific process and found that the monarch met the criteria for listing under the Endangered Species Act,” said Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in a statement. “However, before we can propose a listing, we need to focus our resources on our highest priority listing actions.”

As part of the decision, the status of the monarchs will be reviewed annually by the agency and conservation efforts will continue. In recent years, countless monarch enthusiasts have planted milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars can eat, to help maintain the species. The presence of milkweed has declined in monarch breeding grounds since farmers began using genetically modified crops to tolerate Roundup, a brand of weedkiller.

The United States is home to two populations of monarchs, one on either side of the Rocky Mountains. The eastern monarchs winter in Mexico and their western counterparts winter on the California coast. While both monarch populations are in decline, western monarchs are in free fall.

“We are facing a climate that is changing very rapidly,” said Chip Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch and professor emeritus at the University of Kansas. “The immediate response is two things. First, we are restoring a lot of habitats. And secondly, we are trying to convince our fellow citizens and in particular our politicians that we must do something about greenhouse gases.

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In a woman’s quest to preserve the endangered Southern Appalachians

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Mary Othella Burnette was born and raised in western North Carolina, in a small mountain community where a number of black families settled after the end of the Civil War. Slaves, newly freed from the local plantations, took root there, and Ms. Burnette is linked to many of the early settlers in what is known as the Southern Appalachians.

Now 89, and fearing the oral histories handed down by the original residents and her own family might be lost forever, she self-published a memoir in August. She started writing it in 2008, after attending a writing workshop for novice authors. There, a facilitator introduced the idea of ​​writing a letter to someone important in their life, someone who was no longer alive.

Ms. Burnette jumped at the idea. She could use it to explain why her cousin Elijah, known in her family as “Lige”, was honored in the title of her memoir, “Lige of the Black Walnut Tree”. He had passed away before Ms Burnette was born, but she could tell from the way her father spoke of him that he had been one of her favorite first cousins.

“Only Papa had mentioned Lige, and Papa had died 54 years before I started writing,” she said, “therefore the letter would serve a second purpose: I grew up listening to oral history and preserving the memories of older family members were important to us. I didn’t want Elijah’s name to be forgotten.

In the letter, she writes: “If only I had realized that I was living in the last days of the old black community and that I had kept a journal of what I experienced. If only you or my dad could have written a book for us. What a wonderful story we would have inherited.

Her memoir, she says, is a desperate effort to preserve that history and capture the typical Black Appalachian experience of the early 20th century.

“Little has been written about the black communities living in the southern Appalachians over the past 300 years,” said Ms. Burnette. And, she added, referring to Job 1:15 in the Bible, “I’m the only one left to tell you.”

In a high-profile interview, Ms Brunette spoke about the fading southern Appalachian Mountains, the racism she and her family have endured, and how her story fits into the current Black Lives Matter movement. Our conversation has been changed slightly.

PL: Why did you want to write this book?

MB: I’m 89 years old, turning 90 in March, and the last of my nuclear family and one of the oldest members of our community still alive. I wanted to write something about this old community because it was disappearing. I wanted to get something in writing. There were others who could have written something but they didn’t, and I felt I was the last one who could.

PL: Little has been written about the black communities living in the southern Appalachians. Tell me about what this community was like and what it looks like now.

MB: For me it’s a ghost town now. There are a lot of houses there, but the people, I don’t know. What happened was that the last two generations of freed slaves settled there just after 1865. They started to acquire small plots of land and build houses because there was no had no rental property, and if there had been, they did not have the property. the money anyway. They were alone with the clothes on their backs, right next to the plantations. So a few of those people were still alive when I was born. My grandmother was one of them; she delivered me. These people worked together to help each other survive.

I had a neighbor waiting for our screen door to slam in the morning after my mom went to work, and she would be outside to see that my parents were gone, but she was going to watch us during the day. . My mom never thought of giving her $ 1. She didn’t have $ 1 to give him. They were making $ 5 and $ 7 a week. Can you believe this? But it was a village where people looked after each other.

Today, I think I can count on the one hand the number of blacks who live on the main road. At one point, there were maybe 20 families on that road. Today there may be five.

PL: Why do you think we haven’t heard much about the black communities of the Southern Appalachians?

MB: Because of what I call prohibited literacy. Many of our people did not write anything because of slavery. After slavery, they struggled so much to survive and they hadn’t had the chance to learn to read or write very well. They didn’t have time to write anything.

And then my father’s generation comes with a little education. They would go into roughly the third year, and they would have to spend most of the year helping with the crops, collecting the crops, and preserving what they could. Now we could have started writing, but we didn’t.

We have been there for almost 300 years. When I say “we” I mean the blacks who came to this region as slaves in the 1700s.

PL: You have seen so much. What do you think of where we are right now, with the uprisings and the Black Lives Matter movement?

MB: When I look back on my life, I saw white people who looked at what was happening to us like it was normal. I am happy to see people of all races having the courage to stand up and say, “This is wrong.” I think it’s important, because it didn’t happen when I was a kid.

PL: What advice would you give to young people fighting for justice?

MB: I would say I’m proud of them and keep going. But we really have to dive into the story because what happened has an effect on what happens today, and you have to be informed when we want to do anything.

You must have general information. I would certainly applaud their efforts because it has not happened before in such large numbers, where people speak out about what has gone wrong and what has been wrong for a very long time.

PL: Who do you hope your book will reach?

MB: Hope this will go to colleges. I think it’s really necessary there. To shed light on what racism does and how we need to examine ourselves. In one of my very first stories, I wrote about the age of 3 and how the city built this lake in the park. My dad helped build it. But because I was black, I couldn’t play in the water. My family wouldn’t dare let me put my hands in the water. Can you imagine how ridiculous that is?

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Endangered turtle rescue effort becomes Thanksgiving odyssey

The rescue mission was meant to be straightforward: fly 30 endangered turtles to their new home in New Orleans from Cape Cod, Mass.

Instead, the volunteers encountered weather and mechanical difficulties that made the pace of the trip more in line with the speed of the turtles they were rescuing.

The turtles were Kemp’s rays and had been rescued from the freezing waters along Cape Cod, where hundreds of sea turtles beached each year “stunned by the cold,” the term used to describe turtles made hypothermic and lethargic because of low temperatures.

They were on their way to the Coastal Wildlife Network at the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans for further rehabilitation before their eventual release to the Gulf of Mexico.

On Wednesday morning, the plane left full of turtles housed in cardboard banana boxes covered with napkins, said Jessica Regnante, a volunteer at Turtles Fly Too, a non-profit organization that provides air transport for endangered species.

Ms Regnante’s husband, Robert Tingley, flew the plane as she monitored the temperature to make sure the turtles were at a comfortable 75-degree temperature.

The turtles were mostly calm except for one who kept poking her head out of a hole in the box near her seat, she said. She had been warned that turtles were biting, so she kept her fingers out of reach.

Then came strong headwinds; First around 60 miles per hour, then close to 100, and a line of storms that forced them to alter their outdoor flight plans on several occasions.

Still, the flight was smooth but slow, “like the speed of turtles,” Ms. Regnante said.

During a last-minute fuel shutdown in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a boulder in the taxiway was slammed into the propeller, causing severe damage to it, she said.

“It was just one thing after another,” she says. “I was just like, ‘Guys, this is gonna be okay.'”

Stranded at an airport with 30 turtles and a plane on the ground the night before Thanksgiving, the rescue team began frantically calling animal rescue organizations to find a temperature-controlled spot for the turtles.

“Being out of the water and being transported is a stressful situation for turtles that are already in pretty bad shape,” said Kate Sampson, coordinator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who helped with the mission.

In less than an hour, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga sent two heated vans for the turtles and drove them to the aquarium where they were evaluated by a vet and “put away for the night,” Ms. Sampson said. .

On Thanksgiving morning, Ms. Regnante and Mr. Tingley picked up the turtles from the aquarium in a van and drove them to a meeting point in Alabama. From there, the turtles were handed over to Audubon Coastal Wildlife Network staff members in New Orleans for the final leg of the trip.

“It was a tremendous rally of support,” Ms. Sampson said. “The people at Tennessee Aquarium were getting ready for turkey day, without thinking about it at all, and they stepped up to help us.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles are the rarest and most endangered of the seven species of sea turtles. Every year, hundreds of them are rescued from beaches along Cape Cod, said Connie Merigo, head of the rescue service at the New England Aquarium in Boston.

Turtles follow ocean currents and warm water and move north from their hatching sites along the Gulf of Mexico. Some do not register the drop in water and air temperatures and the shortening of the days until it is too late and they are trapped in the cold Atlantic, Ms. Merigo.

Volunteers from the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, run by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, walk the waterline at high tide to rescue blown turtles and bring them to various rehabilitation facilities, including the New England Aquarium , where they are evaluated and slowly reheated. .

Ms Merigo said some rescued turtles floated for weeks or months without food and had a body temperature of 30 or 40 degrees. That’s at least 20 degrees cooler than their optimum temperature. They are often emaciated and show signs of trauma, including broken fins or fractured shells.

Having survived their long journey, the rescued turtles settled into their new home at the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, where they will receive treatment until they are strong enough to be released, usually in one to three months, said Gabriella Harlamert, the institute’s marine mammal and sea turtle stranding and rehabilitation coordinator.

On Saturday, most of the rescued turtles were swimming in the institute’s 30,000-gallon pool and were fed fish, squid and shrimp, she said.