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Norton Announces $70 Million Giveaway

Ju;y 17. 2003  Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced July 11th, that $70 million of your tax dollars are being handed out to 29 states and non-government organizations to buy more land in the name of conservation.  The program is funded through the “Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund,” authorized by Section 6, of the ESA.  Here are a few obscene examples:  $1.7 mil. to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Nature Conservancy to acquire portions of the Kyles Ford mussel shoal along the Clinch River;  $6.25 mil. to California and its partners to acquire and protect interconnected habitat to support the Western Riverside Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan;  $2,156,675 to California to buy parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties for the Delhi Sands flower-loving fly;  $2 mil. to Georgia to help project partners acquire permanent conservation easements to benefit the longleaf pine and wiregrass.  Wiregrass?  And in Texas, $4,993,794 will allow partners of the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan to buy 700 more acres to protect the black-capped vireo and yellow-cheeked warbler.  The Nature Conservancy is one of those partners.  And then there’s this one - A $206,054 grant to buy 120 acres at Mt. Joy Church Pond in Augusta County, VA, as a state natural area preserve to protect, are you ready, the largest population of the threatened Virginia sneezeweed.  And if you think the Invasive Species Act isn’t already underway, state preserves are protected in perpetuity and managed to restore the native species and natural communities.

Grants To Protect Endangered Species- Doc 2513

Secretary Norton Announces 70 Million In Grants- Doc 2514

California’s Multiple Species Conservation Plan

Bill Horn, Chairman of the San Diego Board of Supervisors, is highly critical of the city of San Diego for adopting the Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP), without giving taxpayers a say in the matter.  The plan will entail buying 172,000 acres for protection of endangered species, known and unknown, at a cost of $640 million.  Mr. Horn points out that 75.8 percent of the county is already classified as open space and 58 percent is government owned.  Although MSCP was promoted as a public park, much of it will only be open seasonally, if at all.  The San Diego Taxpayers’ Association is also very critical of the City, saying that eventually the plan could exceed $1 billion.  The feds promised the City that the new plan would increase local land use planning, protect endangered species, and allow development, but suddenly they (the feds) discovered a new endangered butterfly that will have to be studied before any new development can occur.  Horn says MSCP is a disincentive for landowners to preserve endangered species on their property.  He is calling for a plan to protect property rights that gives positive incentives for species preservation

Stealing Of Your Property - Doc 2515


Judge’s Missouri River Order for the Birds

Last Saturday, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the flow of the Missouri River to protect nesting areas of the piping plover and the least tern.  Her order conflicts with last year’s Nebraska District Court’s ruling ordering the Corps to maintain enough flow to allow barge traffic, power generation and other needs.  The U.S. Justice Department has asked Judge Kessler to stay her injunction since the Corps cannot comply with both rulings.  Environmentalists, who brought the suit, claim that the Missouri River is kept artificially high to benefit the barge industry that hauls containers of grain and other products downstream to consumers.  Judge Kessler believes the environmentalists will win because in 2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife ordered the Corps to reduce the Missouri’s flow for the two birds and the pallid sturgeon.  Kessler admits that her ruling will cause financial hardship for the barge companies, negatively impact water quality, and increase power costs for consumers, but “[T]here is no dollar value that can be placed on the extinction of an animal species – the loss is to our planet, our children and future generations,” she wrote.

Missouri River Ruling Could Hinder Water Quality - Doc 2516

Nature Conservancy Continues to Buy Up Texas

There isn’t much public land in Texas, but the Nature Conservancy intends to change that fact.  TNC has contracted to buy 87,760 acres (137 square miles) of West Texas land near the headwaters of the Devil’s River to “protect it” from future development and re-establish abundant stocks of some sort of minnow, said their spokesman.  The land belongs to lawyer Harold Nix, who collected huge attorney’s fees in the state’s tobacco lawsuit.  TNC’s national board authorized a $23 million loan to secure the deal, but TNC spokesman Niki McDaniel said they plan to sell most of the property to people who will agree to easements restricting development.  TNC also owns two other tracts on the Devil’s River totaling 40,000 acres downstream and manages the 19,850 acre Devils’ River State Natural Area.  With the new addition, they will control 25 of the river’s 60 miles.  Other Conservancy schemes in Texas include 32,000 acres in the Davis Mountains and 30,428 acres in the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan where they are in cahoots with the City of Austin and Travis County.  Carolyn Vogel, land trust coordinator for Texas Parks and Wildlife praised the Conservancy’s purchase saying; “Parks and Wildlife alone can’t accomplish (purchase) all of this.”

88,000 Acres Near Del Rio Targeted - Doc 2517






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