County seeks de-listing of woodland caribou - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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County seeks de-listing of woodland caribou

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Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — Bonner County is contracting with the Pacific Legal Foundation to petition the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to remove the southern Selkirk Mountain woodland caribou from the federal endangered species list.

County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to contribute up to $10,000 toward the effort.

“Getting into contractual agreements with a not-to-exceed amount always makes the most sense,” said Commissioner Lewie Rich.

A memorandum of understanding approved by the board also allows the public to contribute financially to the de-listing move.

“We’re going to seek out donors,” Commissioner Mike Nielsen said after the board approved the expenditure.

Contributions gathered from the public can only be spent on the de-listing move.

The nonprofit Pacific Legal Foundation is regarded as one of the oldest conservative/libertarian public interest law firms in the nation.

“They’re the most nationally respected free-market law firms in the country,” said Scott Bauer, the commission’s civil counsel.

The foundation is already representing a Priest Lake couple who are dueling with the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. Supreme Court over a wetland designation.

Commissioners have aggressively challenged Fish & Wildlife’s plan to designate 375,500 acres in the Panhandle and eastern Washington as critical habitat for woodland caribou. They contend the caribou population is too small to justify the designation and the impact on the economy would be too great.

The board’s stance has been cheered by business owners at Priest Lake who contend caribou considerations have already restricted snowmobile riding on national forest land and hurt tourism. They fear the habitat designation will further restrict snowmobiling and virtually every other forest activity.

Fish & Wildlife officials assert that they are unable predict what forest uses would be impacted in deference to caribou enhanced protections.

Environmental groups such as the Idaho Conservation League have defended the habitat designation and maintain that logging, motorized recreation and other forest uses can continue despite the designation.

Fish & Wildlife was sued by the Selkirk Conservation Alliance and other groups to compel the agency to designate critical habitat.

When the designation was announced last year, county commissioners invoked a federal rule requiring the agency to coordinate with local officials on the designation.

But there unease whether coordination will enable the county to influence the designation. Fish & Wildlife officials told commissioners at a meeting last month that federal rules prohibit them from accepting the county remarks on the issue because they are being made outside of the regimented public comment process.

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  • LAMBP posted at 7:25 pm on Fri, Mar 16, 2012.

    LAMBP Posts: 1

    I wish the lawyers and polititions were as rare as the caribou....
    I personaly preferr the caribou

  • reddawn posted at 4:43 pm on Fri, Mar 16, 2012.

    reddawn Posts: 1698

    I truely do not beleive that spending our hard earned money to opose protection of our few wild Caribou who we use to see, I mean use to see. We use to boat down the lake with friends to see them on the lake. Have dinner, fill up our tank ,and take out of state folks to see the beauty of our lakes . We have not seen them in years.It sounds like the cart has been put before the horse on assuming this idea of protecting our wild life affects our economics.I would rather see the county put money into our tourist trade with snow sking ,hiking,boating,promotion of our county,camping to help our pocket books. This will create jobs.These animals are in danger! Where are they ?

  • Cornel posted at 12:39 pm on Fri, Mar 16, 2012.

    Cornel Posts: 24

    There are no opposing attorney's fees for a simple petition to delist. The actual resolution is a "not to exceed $10,000" and actual costs are $2,950 with likely all covered by private donations. Our pockets remain empty of anything such as suggested. The legal fees are from a request/demand from the Clerk and the Treasurer and we remain committed to trying to solve the issues by communication and persuasion.

  • leechstomper posted at 6:55 am on Thu, Mar 15, 2012.

    leechstomper Posts: 1437

    it is about time that local elected officials are doing something pro-active to protect / encourage local economic developement against the insanity.

  • P O posted at 5:05 pm on Wed, Mar 14, 2012.

    P O Posts: 1

    It's our 10,000 they put up but, they are going to allow us to contribute more? All so they can line their own pockets. Sound funny to anybody else? We are already paying for their legal fees to fight each other.