Sand Mt. - One for the Good Guys!

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Sand Mt. - One for the Good Guys!

Post by Dusty Rhodes »

Credit to Flatfender at the FOSM Message Board for this:



Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly won't be listed as endangered

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


CHRISTY LATTIN
CHRISTY LATTIN, clattin@lahontanvalleynews.com
May 2, 2007

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The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced today that the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly will not be listed as a threatened or endangered species after completing a 12-month review of the unique species.

"Based on the biological evidence we have and looking at the conservation measures being implemented by the Bureau of Land Management, I believe there's enough actions on the ground that the listing is not warranted," said Bob Williams, field supervisor for the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office.

The initial petition to list the species as threatened or endangered was filed in April 2004 by the Center for Biological Diversity, Xerces Society, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Nevada Outdoor Recreation Association.

According to information from the Fish & Wildlife Service, the blue butterfly is known to live only at Sand Mountain, a sand dune system about 25 miles east of Fallon. The butterfly depends upon its host plant, the Kearney buckwheat, which grows on about 1,000 acres within the Sand Mountain Recreation Area, managed by the BLM.

Dr. Dennis Murphy from the University of Nevada, Reno conducted a study of the butterfly and its habitat in 2006 from July 15 to Aug. 9. According to the notice published in the Federal Register, which quoted from the study, the scientists made several conclusions.

"First, there was a large number of Sand Mountain blue butterflies - "perhaps hundreds of thousands" - a number "substantially above a level that would indicate a need to carry out ... other actions to enhance population size above a critical minimum."

The notice in the Federal Register further states, "even if this number represents an upper population estimate, we believe that the very large number of butterflies observed during the recent survey clearly shows that the remaining Kearney buckwheat habitat is currently sufficient to support a viable population of the Sand Mountain blue butterfly."

Although the current butterfly population is sizable, the scientists warned that further loss of the buckwheat "will ultimately lead to the elimination of the butterfly."

Under direction of the Lahontan Valley Environmental Alliance, the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly Working Group was formed in August 2004 with the purpose of providing long term protection for the butterfly and its host plant. The working group involved various parties including BLM, city of Fallon, Churchill County, California Off-Road Vehicle Association, Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, Friends of Sand Mountain, the Sierra Club, Naval Air Station Fallon and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The working group produced a conservation plan and agreement which was approved by its signators in September 2006. The conservation plan outlined approved routes for off-highway vehicles which would prevent further degradation of the butterfly's habitat.

The BLM initiated mandatory route restrictions in March 2007 in order to protect the Kearney buckwheat. Don Hicks, Carson City BLM field office manager, said the BLM's primary focus this year will be to fence and sign the route.

"We have to implement the conservation strategy to make sure the species will continue," Hicks said. "The (working group) process was arduous at times, but people kept sight of the goal - how to make it work to permit off-road use and still preserve the butterfly."

Richard Hilton, president of the Friends of Sand Mountain, said some discussion on the final route map still needs to be held and that his group will be present when the BLM installs fencing and markers along the route.

"We worked with the proper authorities to come up with a workable solution," Hilton said. "Most people don't just go out willy nilly on the brush. Most people still staying on the trails."

Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford called the decision a positive for the community and felt all parties in the working group tried to do their part.

"We have a successful plan in place that BLM and Fish & Wildlife Service have worked hard with local and recreational groups and the (Fallon Paiute Shoshone) tribe," said County Manager Brad Goetsch, who also served as co-chair of the working group. "Its been judged to be a high quality and practical plan."

Goetsch felt the city could have felt a significant financial impact if the Fish & Wildlife Service had determined to list the species.

"It really is a substantial draw for tourism," he said.

Rick Gray, executive director of Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority, said a study conducted four years ago revealed a "rough estimate" of $7 million annual revenue to the city and county from Sand Mountain visitors.
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crash
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Post by crash »

So let me see if I read your post right.

There is NO evidence that the subject species is even threatened.

There is NO evidence that ANYTHING needs to be done.

Yet areas are STILL being closed off to off roaders that have previously been open for say SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME FOR OFF ROAD VEHICLES?????

And let's see, that "work group" consisted of who?

BLM, city of Fallon, Churchill County, California Off-Road Vehicle Association, Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, Friends of Sand Mountain, the Sierra Club, Naval Air Station Fallon and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Sounds like those asshats, once again, found a way to get what they wanted and yet make some of us feel like we won this battle. Unbelievable!!

BTW-What are the ACTUAL number of acres that will be essentially fenced off by this "agreement"? If it's anything along the lines of your other post, it is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!!!! :evil:

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Post by Dusty Rhodes »

The area's that were closed were under voluntary closure before. Since people didn't heed the voluntary part of it, they closed them permanently and will now enforce the closures. It doesn't seem to be as bad as I thought it was in my original post about closure's, though any closure at all is bad in my books.

Also from what I understand, they listed The City of Fallon on that list, but if I recall, and someone correct me if I am wrong, the City of Fallon never signed off on the conservation plan?

From what I can tell, this refusal to list the Blue Butterfly is a victory as if they had listed it, it could have been catostrophic for off roaders. Someone please correct me if that is a bad assumption.
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Post by Vincent J Brunasso »

From what I can tell, this refusal to list the Blue Butterfly is a victory as if they had listed it, it could have been catostrophic for off roaders. Someone please correct me if that is a bad assumption.
If the PMV at the ISDRA is any lesson, I'd say you are correct. I wish things had went this way BEFORE the PMV was listed.
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“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”
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Post by HSSC »

This will not stop the CBD from filing a lawsuit. :roll: We may have won this scuffle but the battle will rage on. This War has many fronts, with no end in site. To compromise, for us, means to lose something. Then , they, fire off another volly and the battle rages on.
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Post by Crowdog »

crash wrote:There is NO evidence that the subject species is even threatened.
Since when does that matter when it comes to the Endangered Species Act?!

Best Available Science is all the ESA requires.

So using the CBD's mode of operation:

1. The Sand Mountain blue butterfly is a subspecies of Euphilotes Pallenscens (which is a general species that is much more widely distributed). The SMB has a very slight color difference and a slightly different size genetalia. That is all it takes to create a new subspecies in the scientific community.

2. The Sand Mountain blue butterfly is unique to Sand Mountain and the habitat there is +/- 1,000 acres.

3. No one has found the SMB anywhere else in the whole world. Oh my, this is REALLY serious! Drastic measures must be taken to save this poor little insect.

4. Petition to list the SMB as endangered.

5. USFWS doesn't respond in time.

6. CBD threatens to sue USFWS over lack of action on the petition.

7. CBD sues the USFWS over lack of action.

8. USFWS produces findings.

Normally that is all it takes for the species to be listed. But let's look at a few other pieces to this particular recipe:

- Add a very enviro-friendly, OHV hating BLM plant ecologist that is in charge of species protection at Sand Mountain.

- Add the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe that gets special access to BLM because of what we did to them 150 years ago. The mountain is a "special" place to them and they want it to themselves two months a year.

- Stir in off-roaders that think this will never happen in Nevada.

- Add all of those off-roaders that spend more money on beer in one weekend than they would part to help fight the butterfly listing.

- Add in all of those off-roaders that take the day off to travel to Fallon for a BLM meeting on a Thursday to discuss butterfly conservation plans.

- Sprinkle in the handful of off-roaders that actually show up to a Friends of Sand Mountain meeting.

Mix well until smooth. Bake for three years at 350 degrees.

Take it out of the oven, and what do you get? A turd. That is right, a turd. What else did you actually expect?!

Oh, by the way, look back to #1 above. To create a new subspecies that can eventually get full protection under the ESA requires absolutely zip government oversight (if that matters). The scientific community gets to decide all be themselves. I wonder whose side most of these folks are on. :roll:

Get ready for the next subspecies of some poor little insect to be rolled out.

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Post by flyinbowtie »

FWIW...

I have been in this mess since the begining, and have been a Sand Mountain duner since 1980.
What Jon states is right, a very, very small group of people has been able to apply a small amount of braking force on the great wheel that is the push for closure that started turning in early 2001ish.
If Jon had not been present and taken the bit, the whole **** place would have a closed gate on the road at the Pony Express Station.
What isn't probably well understood is that FOSM has never been any stronger than about a dozen folks who have spent time, attended meetings, and ponied up their $ to work the system.

Crash, you have some good ideas, and you clearly have some heartfelt positions. Many have merit. Some don't. If Duners have learned anything since the great PMV closure battle began, it is that it takes huge amounts of money, and incredible investments of time to battle the CBD, PEER, Sierra Club, and other Eco-Socialist left-wing social engineers.

At Sand Mountain, the few of us who have seen the focus of these groups shift to our little corner of the duning world have spent countless hours simply trying to get to first base; which is convincing the duning masses that there was a problem headed our way. I would venture to say that less than 10% of the people who we have talked to even give a hoot, which is pretty foolish considering the amount of money they have invested in toys, the point of which is to play at the mountain.

I strongly agree that there needs to be a large, centralized, "dune-centric"
Organization that can oversee, manage, network, and assist the "Friends Groups that are out there fighting for our dunes. I am a member of every OHV group I can think of, but ain't nobody doin' that. CORVA tries, BRC helps, etc, but there is a hole, and you have identified it.

I also strongly agree that more people need to get off of their arses and get involved in the battle. The fact is, at Sand Mountain, only a small minority of the folks are going to believe there is a problem until the door is shut. I have been writing about this on Extreme Buggies for years, it is like talking to a tree stump in many cases.
The people who are agonizing over this crap, fighting BLM, the tribe, CBD, PEER, etc, would welcome the assistance and support of anybody with any skills, money and time to help share the load. There are already a hell of a lot of folks out there bitching (and there are going to be more) who don't take the time to get involved. If FOSM had the support and involvement of just 60% of the people that are paying the tax to use the mountain, we would be a force to be reckoned with.
We do need to use the courts, and find a way to be proactive.
Huge money is needed there.
The media isn't telling the whole story, and isn't telling the behind the scens stuff that goes on, and isn't (surprise surpise) entirely accurate.
Refusal to list is a victory, for all the reasons already listed.

But the biggest, long range victory we could ever have is to gather the masses and somehow convince people that "They" means THEM when it comes to taking on the responsibility for maintaining the braking pressure on the eco-socialists. Until people, and lots of them, start caring about what is going on beyond the curb in front of their homes, and begin putting their money and their time where their mouths are, we are all in trouble.
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