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Sportsman for Wildlife News report about Enviro Litigation


jeffreyd

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OUR MISSION: To make Arizona sportsmen an effective force in determining political, legislative, educational and administrative issues that promote wildlife, wildlife habitat, and continuation of our hunting and fishing traditions.

Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federaton and Other Environmental Activist Groups Reap Millions of Tax Dollars from Law Suits!! What are they Doing for Conservation???

Part 1: Impact of Litigation Beneficial to Enviro-Litigants - not Wildlife

A March 4, 2010 article by Richard Pollack, editor for Pajamas Media and the Washington bureau Chief of PJTV, shed some light on legal activities of environmental activist groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and others. (Click here for copy of entire article.)

According to the article," The activist groups have generated huge revenue streams via the obscure Equal Access to Justice Act. Congressional sources claim the groups are billing for "cookie cutter" lawsuits - they file the same petitions to multiple agencies on procedural grounds and under the Act, they file for attorney fees even if they do not win the case." These groups are not your normal not-for-profit organizations as we think of them. The Sierra Club alone reported its total worth as $56.6 million in 2007 according to Pollack. He further reported that 2007 IRS records showed the top ten environmental organization presidents receive as much as a half million dollars a year in annual compensation.

On January 15, 2010, Western Legacy Alliance (WLA) asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the President for a formal audit of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) based upon initial findings of a private audit conducted by Karen Budd-Falen Law Offices on behalf of WLA.

According to the WLA website, the Budd-Falen report revealed that 1,500 cases were filed by environmental groups over the past ten years, nearly $35 million in payouts were made to 13 environmental groups (click here for report), and more than $4.7 billion in taxpayer money was paid to environmental law firms between 2003 and 2007 representing an average of $940 million a year compared to $922 million the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service spent directly on the 986 endangered and threatened species in one year. Almost $1 Billion a year in tax payer dollars are being milked from the treasury, more than is actually spent on conserving endangered species.

The Richard Pollack article lists a sampling of Lawsuits filed between 2000 and 2009 identified by WLA and Budd-Falen as follows:

Center for Biological Diversity (CDB) filed 409 lawsuits

National Wildlife Federation filed 427 lawsuits

Sierra Club filed 983 lawsuits

Western Watersheds Project filed 91 lawsuits

WildEarth Guardians (formerly known as Forest Guardians) filed 180 lawsuits

Wilderness Society filed 149 lawsuits

Congress has finally taken notice of the misuse of taxpayer dollars and, thanks to Representative Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, legislation (H.R.4717-Open EAJA Act of 2010) has been introduced to get to the bottom of the excessive payouts resulting from the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). To date twenty-five members of Congress have signed on to co-sponsor the bill. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking the bill has a chance to pass with the current administration and a democrat-controlled congress. The Enviro-Litigants will use every tool they have to stop this bill from becoming law. If enacted the bill will require annual reports and transparency in lawsuits filed using the EAJA. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee and has since been further referred to the Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy. In other words it was buried as it is highly unlikely the subcommittee will even calendar the bill.

Do Environmental lawsuits benefit all wildlife or do they just benefit the Ideological beliefs of Enviro-Litigants??

Sportsmen have traditionally been recognized as the "First Conservationists" and have invested heavily for decades, both financially and through volunteer activities, to ensure that wildlife is conserved now and into the future. In Arizona, sportsmen fund approximately 72% of the Arizona Game & Fish Department budget and raise millions of dollars for the direct benefit of wildlife. Arizona sportsmen also contribute thousands of volunteer hours annually on work projects for the benefit of wildlife. The funds and volunteer hours contributed by the sportsmen's community not only benefits game species, it also benefits non-game species including those that are threatened or endangered. The contribution that sportsmen make is well documented.

Activist Environmental groups do make certain contributions. But are the contributions outweighed by the detractions and roadblocks created by the endless filing of lawsuits with little demonstrable benefit to wildlife, except for an occasional species that few know exists? Is their endless pursuit of more wilderness and other designations that place restrictions on the use of our public lands really about saving the land or is it about denying access to an ever-increasing population of individuals who want to enjoy its beauty. These are questions that demand an answer.

An article in the December 21, 2009 issue of High Country News gives us insight into how these Enviro-Litigants think, their dislike for mixed use of public lands (including hunting, ranching, logging and other activities) and their use of litigation to shift the power to benefit their ideological beliefs. The article is an interview with Kierland Suckling, one of the founders of the Center for Biological Diversity.

While Enviro-Litigants profess to use science as the underpinning to further their ideological objectives, the article suggests otherwise. When asked if they (enviro-activists) were hindered by not having science degrees this was Mr. Suckling's response. "It was a key to our success. I think the professionalization of the environmental movement has injured it greatly. These kids get degrees in environmental conservation and wildlife management and come looking for jobs in the environmental movement. They've bought into resource management values and multiple use by the time they graduate. I'm more interested in hiring philosophers, linguists and poets. The core talent of a successful environmental activist is not science and law. Its campaigning instinct. That's not only not taught in the universities, it's discouraged." (To view the article in its entirety click here.)

They use the legal system to shift the pyridine from government agencies like the Arizona Game and Fish Department, who by all accounts has received accolades for their management of Arizona's wildlife resources. When asked what role lawsuits play in their strategy to list endangered species part of Mr. Suckling's response was "...by obtaining an injuction to shut down logging or prevent the filling of a dam, the power shifts to our hands. The forest Service needs our agreement to get back to work, and we are in the position of being able to powerfully negotiate the terms of releasing the injunction. "

What is the result of the mountains of lawsuits filed annually by activist environmental groups? We know from the Western Legacy Alliance and Budd-Falen research that there has been a huge dollar cost that is paid for by the taxpayer (that is you and me). What has been the hidden cost to agencies in responding to these lawsuits, whether it be the Arizona Game & Fish Department, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management? No doubt it is substantial. Does the benefit outweigh the cost? Only if you are one of the Enviro-Litigants!

Agencies, already operating with diminished or otherwise limited revenue streams, are required to divert precious resources that could be utilized to enhance our public lands and the wildlife therein only to deal with the flood of complaints, many of which never go to final judgment because the agencies capitulate regardless of the merits of the case. Another all- too-often-unnoticed detrimental side effect is the "fear" factor. These agencies, more often than not, roll over on demands not based on science or sound management decisions but fear. Mr. Suckling stated as much in the interview.

At a time when resources are scarce, what has been the cost to reintroduce one single species because it was known to previously inhabit an area a hundred years ago? What has been the cost to other species that are short changed by a re-introduction? The cost has been significant. Why should the conservation groups spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build healthy game herds only to have them used for food to feed the wolves, for example? If the wolves eat all of the elk and deer and they are on the verge of extinction, will groups like the Center for Biological Diversity file a lawsuit to save the endangered deer and elk and then claim the credit for restoring them? This is precisely what they did with the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep. It is not about conservation, it is about money.

The Center for Biological Diversity website gives the impression that they were responsible for saving the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, bringing them back from the brink of extinction. What they don't tell you is that the near extinction of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep was primarily due to mountain lion predation, which went uncontrolled because Enviro-Litigants were able to get an initiative passed in California to ban mountain lion hunting. Prop 117 in California is another example of improperly trying to manage wildlife at the ballot box using emotion to sway the public.

What we have here is a vicious cycle of Enviro-Litigants suing or using the ballot box to accomplish their ideological agenda only to then get the opportunity to sue again to undue the damage caused by the first action. According to Arizona Game & Fish, the 2007 recovery plan to save the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep population from extinction called for an expenditure of $21.7 million over 10 years and an additional $73.3 million to save the Peninsular Sheep in California

Sportsmen for Wildlife, an organization in Utah, recently reported the following information regarding the impact reintroduction of wolves has had on other species. The following is representative of the impact wolves have had in Idaho and Wyoming.

Idaho's Lolo Elk Herd declined from approximately 9,000 in 1995 to fewer than 2,000 in 2010

The Jackson Wyoming Moose population declined from 1,200 in 1995 to a low of 117 in 2010

The damage to other wildlife species is not the only cost, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state Agencies have literally spent millions of dollars toward the reintroduction of wolves, though the actual cost is ever elusive. According to a recent press release from "Big Game Forever" the federal government is currently spending $3.7 million dollars annually to remove problem wolves that kill domestic livestock in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. This cost is in addition to $100 million in damage to the economies of states where wolves are found due to excessive predation on big game according to Ryan Benson, the National Director for Big Game Forever.

And though the mountain lion is not an endangered species, the same organizations that crusade to save the wolf are the ones that crusade to save the mountain lion or to stop a much-needed water catchment from being repaired or constructed. The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is a good example. The Refuge, established in 1939, was intended for the conservation and development of natural wildlife resources and primarily for the protection and conservation of desert bighorn sheep. The enactment of the Arizona Desert Wilderness Act of 1990 resulted in 550,000 acres of the refuge being designated as wilderness.

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge - Wilderness Watch , Arizona Wilderness Coalition, Sierra Club of Arizona, Western Watersheds Project and Grand Canyon Wildlands Council filed a suit against U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service In June 2007 to stop the construction of water catchments and to remove tanks needed for wildlife during drought periods because of Wilderness designation on portions of the Refuge.

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge - threatened lawsuit against USFWS for failure to complete an environmental analysis (EA) before lethally removing two mountain lions. Just one mountain lion (KMO4) was eating a sheep every 10.5 days. From 2000 to 2006 the bighorn sheep on the Kofa declined from a high of 812 to a low of 390 sheep, coinciding with periods of drought and an increase in known predation by mountain lions, which are in no way endangered, nor have they historically ranged on the Kofa. The Arizona Game & Fish Department now has to operate under USFWS ruling which specifies that an offending mountain lion that kills two sheep within a six month period can be removed if the sheep population count is below 600, but if it is above 800 no action can be taken.

Enviro-Litigants are active in Arizona as well, we can no longer just hope they will go away.

Re-introduction of the Mexican Gray Wolf is a prime example. After being designated as an endangered species in 1978 for the conterminous United States, gray wolf populations currently exist in the northern Rocky Mountains, western Great Lakes and Southwest.

The Center for Biological Diversity claims credit for the initial re-introduction of the Mexican gray wolf starting with a lawsuit in 1990.

After nearly a decade of controversy and public discourse and a Federal mandate from the Endangered Species Act of 1973, a Federal decision was published in January 1998 to release the Mexican Gray Wolf into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) which consists of the entire Apache and Gila National Forests in east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico. The final rule adopted by U. S. Fish and Wildlife called for the BRWRA wolf population to be classified a non-essential experimental population under section (10-j) of the Endangered Species Act.

In March 1998 eleven captive-reared Mexican wolves were released. The Plan called for release of 14 family groups to be released over a period of 5 years with the goal of reaching a population of 100 wild wolves. Because captive wolves were not able to survive on their own, they relied on humans to feed them with road kill and other food sources. It was not until 2002, that the first wild-born litter occurred from a wild-born parent. After 12 years, at last count, there were only 42 wolves in the BRWRA. Program costs to date are estimated to be in excess of $20 Million and counting, $5.4 Million of which came from the Arizona Game & Fish Department. That's about $500,000 a wolf.

Today, most wildlife conservation groups and stakeholders involved in the wolf re-introduction experiment view the Arizona re-introduction effort as a failed program. At what point do you say, "The cost outweighs the benefit". In today's fragile economy, how can we continue to dump millions of dollars into a failed program for the sake of one species? Yet, the Enviro-Litigants continue to pursue their end goal of wolf reintroduction for the sake of wolves, while ignoring the impact the wolves are or will have on other wildlife species and domestic animals and the economic and social costs attributed thereto. The litigious nature of these groups is well documented on the wolf issue across the country and in Arizona. Following is a list, though likely not complete, of the trail of legal actions taken by the Center for Biological Diversity.

Mexican Gray Wolf:

1990 Court case led to the eventual reintroduction of the Mexican Gray Wolf

2009 Lawsuit for release of depredation information

2009 Petitioned to list Mexican Gray Wolf as endangered subspecies or distinct population segment - without final adjudication, U. S. Fish and Wildlife in August of this year agreed to evaluate the Mexican Gray Wolf's qualification as a separate listing and potential for listing as an endangered species separate from other wolves. (Simultaneously, a federal court reinstated wolf protections in Montana and Idaho, preventing them from being hunted; even though the Interior Department had delisted the wolves in Montana and Idaho discerning that a viable population existed and was in need of management)

July 20, 2010 Petition filed with Interior Secretary and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting that wolf populations be established in areas which have suitable habitat in the Pacific Northwest, California, Great Basin, Southern Rocky Mountains, Great Plains and New England

Jaguar

Campaigned to have the jaguar listed as an endangered species (Jaguar was listed in 1997)

2008 Filed notice of intent to sue and later did so over recovery plan determination (obtained court ruling in favor of recovery plan and critical habitat from U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2009)

September 2009 Filed lawsuit to enjoin the Az Game & Fish Department from carrying out any activities that could potentially result in taking of a jaguar (case dismissed July 2010)

August 2010 Filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue USFWS for issuing an amended permit to Az. Game & Fish Department

Filed comments proposing 50 million acres of critical habitat for the Jaguar (no final determination made to date)

Sportsmen must awaken to what is happening around them. We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines and ignore the impact on our wildlife and on the future of our hunting and fishing Heritage due to the radical Enviro-Litigants. This is much, much bigger than what one may think. We (all of us) better get organized!

This is the first part in a 4-part series. The next Sportsmen's Alert will focus on wilderness Designations and the role that they play in the Enviro-Litigants Plan.

Alan Hamberlin

President and Chairman of the Board for Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • LakeofthewoodsMN
      On the south end...   A great week of fishing with walleyes and saugers caught in good numbers.   The go-to presentation, again, was a jig and frozen emerald shiner.  Emerald shiners are a staple in LOW and walleyes love them.  Other minnows worked also, but emerald shiners are a favorite of anglers for good reason.   The Lighthouse Gap area, Morris Point Gap and just in front of Pine Island held nice fish in 17 - 21' of water.  Various schools of walleyes and saugers across the south shore.     A quarter ounce jig in gold, glow white, pink, orange, chartreuse, or a combo of these colors tipped with a minnow worked well again.   Some big pike and jumbo perch being caught by walleye anglers. On the Rainy River...  Some nice walleyes were caught on the river this weekend, although most anglers normally head to the lake.  12 - 15' of water is holding some nice fish.   Sturgeon fishing on the Rainy River is closed until the keep season starts up again July 1st. Up at the NW Angle...  Some nice walleyes being caught along with a mixed bag.  12 - 25 feet of water.  Points, neck down areas and bays with warming water were holding good fish this week.    The go-to presentation was a jig and minnow as on the south shore.  A mixed bag as is common around the Angle.  
    • leech~~
      Nice work!   Here's two words you hardly ever hear anyone say anymore.  "grateful and humbled"   
    • Brianf.
      RLG, thanks for the shout-out!     Jeff and I are still trying to wrap our heads around what happened this past weekend.  We are humbled and full of gratitude  for having won 'The Classic' for a second time.     We practiced through all the rain on Thurs and the wind on Friday and found six different spots holding big fish.  Fishing was good on both days with several 'overs' in our catch...but would it hold up for another day?   We didn't know.     On tourney day, we made a long run to our first spot where I lucked out on a 26.5"er on my second cast.  Jeff followed up with a thick 27" er a few minutes later, which turned out to be the big fish for the event at 7.26lbs.  We finished out our limit and weighed-in at 10:30 am for the welfare of the fish in our livewell.    There were some big weights in this event which would have won in most other years, but - for whatever reason - this was our day.  Everything just went our way.  Again, we are just super grateful and humbled by this success.  We also want to congratulate all the other anglers who did well and give a big 'thank you' to the tournament organizers who put on such a great event!  
    • SkunkedAgain
      I had a good start to the season on opener. Fishing was slow but consistent. I had four eaters in the box by lunch dragging perch raps. Crappies were biting. I haven't been up since so don't know how things have changed since then, but I'm sure the walleye continue to migrate out into the main basins.
    • redlabguy
      Let’s start this by congratulating Brianf and son for winning their second City Autoglass Walleye Classic last weekend. These guys know how to fish.  We just got to the lake for the season. Chores are almost done and I’m ready to fish.  red(new dog is more yellow)labguy
    • Jetsky
      I tried starting a 2024 Lake Vermilion Fishing Report topic but it doesn't show up on this board.   Maybe somebody else knows how to do it?
    • Mike89
      then use the BB gun after catching them!!!    and then enjoy rabbit dinner for revenge!!!   
    • leech~~
      Yep crazy. 🤪 I played goalie in HS and my two grandsons play hockey now.  
    • gimruis
      Hockey gear in general is very expensive.  I was in a Pure Hockey last month to get my skates sharpened and while they were doing it I looked around at gear.  A new pair of CCM/Bauer customized skates can easily top 1000 bucks.  Then you need everything else.  It would be several thousand before you had everything.  And then your kid grows like a weed so you need to buy bigger gear.   Then there's goalie gear.  That's enough to buy a small boat.   Nothing cheap about that sport by any means.
    • leech~~
      That's a good idea Mike.  But, my sweet wife who's never killed anything in her life, wants them all dead and their skulls on poles! 👹  🤣
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