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Addendum to yesterday's press release added 9/23/04 by Walden's office, followed by the press release:

Hello Everyone,

Congressman Walden wanted me to forward along the following press release that was put out today by the Western Caucus regarding a U.S. Fish and Wildlife decision on the critical habitat designation for Bull Trout.  Greg worked closely with affected communities and individuals (thank you Jan Kerns, Baker County) to ensure that the USFWS acknowledged the great work already being done by locals in watersheds across the district and he also requested a complete a comprehensive economic analysis be completed to determine the economic impacts that a designation would bring to rural communities.

In responding to Greg’s concerns, USFWS stated that “in 30 years of implementing the ESA, the Service has found that the designation of statutory critical habitat provides little additional protection to most listed species, while consuming significant amounts of scarce conservation resources.”  The Service went on the say that “The present system for designating critical habitat has evolved since its original statutory prescription into a process that provides little real conservation benefit, is driven by litigation and the courts rather than biology, limits our (USFWS) ability to fully evaluate the science involved, consumes enormous resources, and imposes huge social and economic costs.”    

The USFWS has also agreed that a 5-year status review of the bull trout, as required under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act, was warranted.  The USFWS will suspend further work on the bull trout Recovery Plan for the Columbia River, Klamath River, and St. Mary-Belly River population segments, until the 5-year review has been completed.  The 5-year review is an internal USFWS process conducted to ensure that the listing of the classified species is still threatened or endangered.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 

September 22, 2004

 Western Caucus Members Applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Designation of Critical Habitat for Bull Trout

Washington, D.C. – Members of the Western Caucus today applauded the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate 1,748 miles of streams and 61,235 acres of lakes and reservoirs in the Columbia and Klamath River basins as critical habitat for the bull trout under the Endangered Species Act. 

This final designation, in response to a court order, provides credit for ongoing bull trout conservation and management efforts and cancels further consideration of the Service’s November 2000 proposal to designate as much as 18,450 miles of streams and 532,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs as bull trout critical habitat. The Service held nine public hearings, numerous public meetings, reviewed 549 written comments and obtained peer review from the American Fisheries Society.

Congressman Greg Walden (OR-02) responded to the decision saying, "As I heard from the communities in Oregon that would be most affected by the possible bull trout critical habitat designation, it became very clear to me that the proposed plan was inappropriately broad.  As it stood, the designation would have brought significant and unnecessary changes to water allocation and irrigation, limited a community's ability to undertake hazardous fuels reduction projects, led to a decrease in recreational opportunities, and constrained the ability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fully evaluate science involved in decision making.  Given the vast mileage of streams and acreage of lakes and marshes this critical habitat places in the Klamath River Basin, we ought to be reminded of the crisis that unfolded in 2001.  When the esteemed National Academy of Sciences completed their peer review of the decisions in the Klamath Basin, they found that the actions taken three years ago might actually have had detrimental effects on species.  We can have successful recovery of endangered species that takes into account the livelihood of a community and local economy.”

"I'm glad to see a critical habitat designation based on actual conditions on the ground, and reflecting those areas where species like bull trout actually live. For too long these designations have been about how many roadblocks could be put up to access and responsible use rather than what's reasonable and necessary to help the species," Congressman Otter (ID-01), Vice-Chairman of the Western Caucus said. "It's good to see a growing recognition that not all solutions, or even good ideas, come from the banks of the Potomac. Most often we find them a lot closer to home."

Chris Cannon (UT-03), Chairman of the Western Caucus, said, “This designation demonstrates that science-based cooperative efforts are effective.  Habitat and species can be recovered through cooperative measures.  It is comforting to see that the on the ground science has prevailed in this case.  I applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service for a job well done.”

The Western Caucus is a group of 60 members of Congress committed to protecting the interests and ideals of the West.  The mission of the Western Caucus is to focus on improving the quality of life in rural areas through policies that promote limited government, individual liberty, economic opportunity and personal responsibility.






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