New Report Highlights 10 Wildlife Conservation Priorities for the Trump Administration

December 21, 2016

Among list of imperiled species are Wild Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon, threatened by four lower Snake River dams, climate change

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The report, “removing the Walls to Recovery: Top 10 Species Priorities for a New Administration <http://removingthewallstorecovery.org/> ,” highlights some of the most significant threats to vanishing wildlife such as wild salmon, jaguars and elephants, and identifies important actions the next administration could take to stop their decline and begin to rebuild these populations.

The report includes the imperiled wild Snake River spring/summer Chinook, threatened by four aging and outdated dams on the lower Snake River.

“We nominated Snake River chinook for this report because with climate change, these four money-losing dams become deadlier each summer, when reservoir water temperatures become lethally hot, causing fish kills” said Save Our Wild Salmon Inland Northwest Director Sam Mace.  “But if we free the Snake River of these dams, wild salmon will once again access thousands of miles of pristine, high-elevation habitat that can provide an ark for salmon in a warming world.”

Snake River Chinook salmon, are among the longest and highest-migrating salmon on the planet – often swimming 1,000 miles upstream and climbing more than 6,000 feet in elevation to reach their spawning grounds. More than 130 other species depend upon salmon, including orcas, bears and eagles.

“Since Northwest rivers began to flow, a population of orcas known as the Southern Residents have relied on Columbia basin salmon to sustain them.  Spring chinook that spawn in the Snake River basin are especially critical for survival of this unique and now endangered orca community.  Unfortunately, the lower Snake River dams have decimated this critical food source.  The impact these dams have on this precious, but dwindling, population of orcas, must be addressed.” said Howard Garrett, Board President of Orca Network.

Some of the species in the report, such as the Joshua tree and Elkhorn coral are foundational species, which play a critical role as building blocks for their ecosystems, but are threatened by global climate change.

Other critically important species in the report are keystone species, such as Hawaii’s yellow-faced bee, the jaguar, and the Snake River salmon. All keystone species have a disproportionately large impact on other species and ecosystems, relative to their abundance. For instance, Hawaii’s yellow-faced bee is a pollinator impacted by habitat loss.

The jaguar of the southwest United States is a keystone predator. It is particularly threatened by habitat fragmentation caused, in part, due to impenetrable immigration barriers along the U.S. – Mexican border. The report urges Mr. Trump to abandon plans to further fortify the southern border, and to make existing barriers more wildlife-friendly.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list the greater sage grouse—an umbrella species—as endangered in 2014, citing an unprecedented region-wide habitat conservation effort, tied to state and federal conservation plans. However, several appropriations riders offered in Congress in 2016 would block implementation of these conservation plans, as well as any future Endangered Species Act protections for the imperiled bird. Meanwhile, grouse numbers have declined by 90 percent from historic levels. Protecting umbrella species like sage grouse conserves habitats on which many other species rely.

“Our native fish, plants and wildlife are critically valuable and part of the legacy we leave for future generations of Americans,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “We hope the next administration takes seriously its responsibility to protect endangered species and habitat. The fate of species is in their hands. Their actions could dictate whether species such as the vaquita, the red wolf, and others, become extinct in the wild.”

The remaining species featured in the Endangered Species Coalition’s report include the African elephant, Bald cypress tree, the wolf, and thevaquita – a small endangered Mexican porpoise.

Endangered Species Coalition member groups nominated wildlife species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations, and decided which species should be included in the final report. The full report, along with links to photos and additional species information can be viewed and downloaded <http://removingthewallstorecovery.org/> from the website, http://removingthewallstorecovery.org<http://removingthewallstorecovery.org> .

The Endangered Species Coalition produces a “Top 10” report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years’ reports<http://www.endangered.org/campaigns/annual-top-ten-report> are also available on the Coalition’s website.

This report is a re-post from Sam Mace, Inland NW Director, Save Our Wild Salmon sam@wildsalmon.org


Tell State Lawmakers: Cancel the Elliot State Forest Sale

December 6, 2016

By Mike Allen

In one week the State Land Board will vote on whether to sell the oldest state forest in Oregon. The Elliott State Forest near Coos bay is home to several threatened or endangered species including Coho salmon, Pacific lamprey, spotted owl, and the vanishing marbeled murrelet. The murrelet nests high in large trees, and its decline is associated with old forest logging.

The State of Oregon has been frittering away the Elliott for years, selling pieces of it off to timber interests who have gone on to cut off public access and log some massive old trees. Just ten years ago it was 10,000 acres larger. Last year the Land Board decided to put the remaining 83,000 acres up for sale. The asking price of $220.8 million drew exactly one bid.

marbled-murrelet

The Terms of the Elliott Sale Shortchange Oregonian’s Future

Although the deal requires that the purchaser set aside 25% of the land for conservation, it does not specify which part of the land must be set aside. Nearly half of the Elliott is forest nearly 150 years old, with many older trees mixed in. Older trees, which are more economically valuable, could be harvested and younger stands allowed to age.

Only 50% of the land is required to be kept open to the public, and access could involve fees and other restrictions.

The harvest would only be required to produce forty new jobs over the next ten years.

Oregon Could do Better with the Elliott

Meanwhile, if no further harvests were to occur in the Elliott, it would be capable of storing about two thirds of the total carbon output of the state of Oregon, according to a 2010 analysis by ecotrust. This is just one of the many benefits with indirect but real economic impact that isn’t fully appreciated by the state’s analysis.

The Elliott is rugged terrain, with limited access. It has no trails and no official campgrounds. But for the intrepid and adventurous it holds big rewards: massive old growth trees, pristine creeks teaming with fish, deer and elk and the rarest of Western Oregon species. This is our last chance: if the Elliott is sold we will never get it back, and it will never be the same. Call Governor Brown, Secretary Atkins, and Treasurer Wheeler and tell them to save the save the Elliot, a priceless resource for all Oregonians.

Take Action to Save the Elliot State Forest:

Gov. Kate Brown – (503) 378-4582
Ted Wheeler – (503) 378-4329
Jeanne Atkins – (503) 986-1523

The Sierra Club Oregon Chapter will participate in a rally at the Keizer Civic Center at 9 am on December 13th to let lawmakers know how Oregonians feel about losing their wilderness heritage to private interests.  Details HERE!

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UPDATE #3: Portland Moving Forward Against New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

November 16, 2016

teds-imageSometimes it takes a long time for things to happen quickly — in this case, good things.  Portland City Council is finally poised to approve unprecedented zoning restrictions on new fossil fuel infrastructure (FFI) for export or storage, before year’s end.  This process began in 2015, culminating last November with a pair of unprecedented binding policy resolutions, opposing both crude by rail and new FFI.  Over the past year, the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, the Planning & Sustainability Commission, and now the Council itself have worked to craft zoning ordinances to implement the resolutions.

At this writing, the likely results (scheduled for a final vote in early December) look pretty good — in no small part because of energetic leadership from a grassroots movement and broad environmental coalition.  Stay tuned!

— Ted Gleichman, Policy Advisor, Beyond Gas & Oil Team


Open and Accountable Elections Portland

November 1, 2016

The Problem

Many communities face barriers to their voices being heard in our democracy.  One in three Portlanders are people of color, and yet we have only had two people of color ever serve on our City Council.  The majority of our population is female and we have had just seven women on the City Council.  And sixty percent of our city’s population lives east of 47th Ave, but only two commissioners have come from these neighborhoods

One major reason for this is the high costs of running for office.  Candidates are forced to spend time raising money from a small group of donors.  In the 2012 elections, sixty percent of all money raised came from just a few hundred donors giving over $1000 each.  And they gave three times as much as the six thousand small donors giving less than $250[1].  Candidates today need networks of wealthy donors to run for office.  That prevents everyday people from getting elected and representing their own communities.

The Solution

We need Open and Accountable Elections.  Under this reform, if a candidate agrees to only take small donations from individuals, their small donations are matched and amplified.  This reform ensures that every Portlander–regardless of their background—has a set at the table and a voice in our democracy

Small donor matching has been successful all across our country.  New York City has had it for over thirty years, and Maine, Connecticut, Seattle, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, and Montgomery County Maryland have seen this reform work.  Portland could too.

The Impact

Small donor matching changes how candidates campaign.  Because donations from ordinary people are amplified, candidates have more incentive to campaign in all neighborhoods.  That means candidates spend more time interacting with renters, students, working families, people of color, and Portlanders of every background.

Small donor matching also allows more people to run for office.  Big money acts as a barrier to candidates from low-income communities.  But if we do not need networks of wealthy donors to run for office, people of all backgrounds can participate in our elections.  The people with the most talent—not just the best connections–should be able to serve our city in public office.

Open and Accountable Elections is how we engage more people in our elections, and how we make sure that every person has a voice in our democracy.

Our elections are dominated by big donors.  But we can restore balance to our democracy.  If we match small contributions from ordinary Portlanders, every person can have a voice in our community.

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City Hall, Portland, OR

How Open and Accountable Elections Works

Our democracy can be put back in balance

  • Candidates for mayor, commissioner, or auditor must agree to not take any donation over $250 per election, and to only take donations from individuals.
  • Donations under $50 are matched six-to-one by the city, as long as the donors live in Portland, are over eighteen years old, and can give under federal and state law
  • Spending caps keep the costs down. Mayoral candidates cannot spend more than $380k in the primary and $570k in a general election.  Commissioner or auditor candidates cannot spend more than $180k in a primary election and $270k in a general election.

Our democracy can be responsible

  • Candidates must prove they have community support to qualify for the program. Mayoral candidates must raise $5000 from 500 Portlanders.  Commission or auditor candidates must raise $2500 from 250 Portlanders
  • Throughout the program, all candidates must disclose their contributions and their expenses more frequently than they do now
  • Candidates cannot use public funds to travel out of state, to throw expensive parties, or give the funds to another candidate. They cannot hire their family members, and they cannot go into debt.
  • Candidates must provide receipts to see a donation matched
  • Regulators have ten days to verify each donation
  • The verification process is transparent, fair, and open for the public to review

Our democracy can be a budget priority

  • The program is capped at 0.2% of the general fund, or $1 million a year
  • Public funds are protected, because mayoral candidates cannot receive more than $304,000 for a primary election and $456,000 for a general election in matching funds. Commission candidates or auditor candidates are capped at $144,000 in matching funds for a primary election, and $216,000 for a general election
  • There is no tax increase planned for this program

Our democracy can be fair

  • Violators and law-breakers can be fined up to $10,000
  • Independent expenditures and SuperPACs must be more transparent, and must disclose their donations and expenses on a faster timeline than they do now
  • An oversight commission will evaluate the program and can continually make recommendations to adjust for new dynamics

Open and Accountable Elections can make democracy work for all of us.  Join the many community-based advocates and support this reform for our city.

For more information, visit to www.AVoiceForAllPortland.org

Or contact Daniel Lewkow, Political Director for Common Cause Oregon at 503-283-1877 at Dlewkow@commoncause.org

[1] “In Portland, Elections 600 Big Donors Tip the Scales” The Sightline Institute.  May 27, 2016.  http://www.sightline.org/2016/05/27/in-portland-elections-600-big-donors-tip-the-campaign-scales/

 


Call for Nomination Petitions

October 18, 2016

Sierra Club Oregon Chapter Executive Committee welcomes nominations by petition!

Each year a portion of the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter’s elected at-large Executive Committee (ExCom) reaches the end of their terms. Some decide not to run again, others do. The Chapter uses democracy to hold itself accountable to its membership, so we need good candidates to best represent our members’ interests.

The ExCom sets the Chapter’s budget and strategic direction, is deeply involved in the Chapter’s conservation and political work, hires the state director, fundraises, chooses a delegate to the Council of Club Leaders, and approves litigation and electoral endorsements.

To accomplish all of this, the ExCom meets quarterly at different locations around the state to better facilitate involvement of our Chapter and Group leaders across Oregon. There are opportunities to participate remotely in these meetings and there is periodic e-mail and phone correspondence between meetings. ExCom members sit on or chair subcommittees to further contribute to the Chapter’s work and governance. The ExCom also participates in a planning an annual retreat and additional important events throughout the year.

This year, our Nominations Committee has identified five candidates to run for four vacancies on the ExCom. We value the Oregon Chapter membership’s involvement in this process and welcome additional nominees by petition in accordance with our bylaws.

After receiving additional nominations by petition, we — the Nominations Committee — will finalize the candidate slate for this year’s election ballot, which will go out to members in November. Chapter members interested in getting on the ballot by petition must submit a written petition with the names, member numbers, and signatures of at least 1%, or 200, of the Chapter’s 20,000 members in good standing to the Nominations Committee within two weeks of this notice. The Nominations Committee will accept petition nominations until end-of-day November 1, 2016.

Candidates then get space on the Chapter website to advocate for their election in a brief candidate statement.

The four-week election period will commence later in November and close in December.

The four candidates receiving the most votes will start their two-year terms in January 2017.

Have ideas on who would be a great Executive Committee member? Interested in petitioning for nomination as a candidate in this year’s Oregon Chapter Executive Committee election? Send completed petitions or other inquiries to Nominations Committee Chair, Drew Kerr at kerr.drew@gmail.com. Please send nomination petitions no later than November 1, 2016.

Thank you!

– The Nominations Committee

 


UPDATE #2: Portland Fossil Fuel Policy Zoning Heads Back to City Council

October 13, 2016

By Ted Gleichman, policy advisor, Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Team

A governmental journey of a thousand miles begins with scaling multiple bureaucratic mountains – a step at a time.  Portland’s path to Keep It In the Ground – working to ban new fossil fuel storage and export infrastructure – got major trailblazing from the Planning & Sustainability Commission (PSC) this week.  We are now on track for groundbreaking new zoning code amendments.

So please Save the Dates: the mayor has scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, November 10, at 2 p.m., with the City Council votes planned for Thursday, November 17.  As always, please wear red.

The high-level backstory, critically important for carrying momentum through to the City Council, was this: in split votes, the PSC basically rejected false equivalency.  Governmental agencies – like the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (BPS) – have long felt obligated to balance stakeholders, theoretically treating everyone as equal in a Civics 101 sense.

Of course, some animals were always more equal than others: typically, on zoning, it was developers and business special interests.  But the classic theory that everyone has a valid tale to tell no longer works on energy and sustainability issues, because of the rapidly-expanding climate crisis.

BPS has done some terrific work on this, but it is difficult for an agency to recognize that the fossil fuel industries cannot be allowed to be the deciders any longer.  Thankfully, an educated and courageous majority on the Planning & Sustainability Commission generally rejected the weakest parts of the newest BPS recommendations.  Notably, the PSC unanimously refused to carve out special exemptions from the most important infrastructure limits for Northwest Natural.   Overall, the PSC will be giving the City Council a pretty good road map for this effort at a climate landmark.

There are still some stumble-spots on the trail, of course, and we’ll be working with eco-coalition partners* to identify to the City Council how to smooth those out.  We will give you the full detailed wonk-post in the near future.

In the meantime, if you run into the mayor or a city commissioner at, say, a political event, or the grocery store, be sure to mention that:

 Just like false equivalency has been a core fallacy in our nation’s presidential race**, so too it is a dangerous trap on the path to solving the climate crisis.

The City Council’s core responsibility is to defend the commitments in their November 2015 binding policy resolution to ban new fossil fuel storage and export infrastructure.  Let’s make that happen!

* Columbia Riverkeeper, Audubon of Portland, 350PDX, Center for Sustainable Economy, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and many others.

** Sierra Club has endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Rally sends clear message to State Land Board: “Keep the Elliott Public”

October 13, 2016
On October 11th, nearly 125 Oregonians from across the state gathered on the lawn of the State Land Board building in Salem to send a loud, colorful, and clear message to the State Land Board: the Elliott State Forest needs to be protected and it needs to be kept public. Governor Kate Brown, Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler are in the midst of a process that could see the Elliott sold off, most likely to a timber company with its sites set on logging some of the last remnant old growth forest in Oregon’s coast range.
Over 100 Oregonians braved the cold and made their way from all over the state. Photo by Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands)

Over 100 Oregonians braved the cold and made their way from all over the state. Photo by Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands)

It was an excellent turnout with a broad cross section of Oregonians that included native Americans, Coos County residents, hunters, anglers, campers, educators, and kids who are growing up with access to the forest.  One of the most pressing and common concerns is the loss of access to the forest if it is privatized. It is unclear exactly how much and how often the forest would be made open to locals and visitors if it was sold. This is just one of the sale “sideboards” that is inadequate or vague. Protection for aquatic habitat would be reduced by the implementation of weak stream buffers from logging and it appears that much of the old growth would be on the chopping block.
Bob Sallinger of Portland Audubon riles up the crowd (photo by Josh Laughlin)

Bob Sallinger of Portland Audubon riles up the crowd (photo by Josh Laughlin)

38 Oregonians testified before the Land Board, and all of the speakers, except one, provided excellent and powerful testimony on the importance of keeping the Elliott in the public trust. One comment that stuck out was by Fregus McLean.  The economic study commissioned by the state land board to determine the “market value” of the Elliott failed to account for carbon sequestration benefits. Mr. McLean, who is running for Oregon House District 7, provided the economic benefit of saving the Elliott for carbon credits.  His figures indicated that carbon credits could be worth as much as $1.25 billion which is six times greater than the “market value” estimate by LandVest Consulting, the State Land Board’s consultant. It is also worth noting there may be a potential conflict of interest by LandVest that should be investigated.
coho

Speaking up for all the salmon who couldn’t make the trip to Salem (photo by Josh Laughlin)

The economic value of the Elliott far exceeds the value of timber if you account for carbon sequestration and sale of credits plus recreation, habitat preservation, coho salmon fishery, and many other attributes. This is on top of the hugely important ecological and climate values that the Elliott represents. The Oregon coast range is dominated by private timber holdings—lands that have largely reduced to monoculture tree plantations with bare hillsides and a steady stream of toxic herbicides being sprayed from above. Oregon’s three largest state forests, the Tillamook, Clatsop, and Elliott are some of the last refuges for threatened coho salmon, endangered marbled murrelets, threatened northern spotted owls, and an abundance of other fish, wildlife, and plants. These forests are also a massive carbon sink that has the potential to slow and mitigate climate change.

All this could be lost if Governor Brown and Treasurer Wheeler don’t step up with a real, innovative, and collaborative solution. It would be a low point in Governor Brown’s nascent governorship. For Wheeler, who begins his first term as Mayor of Portland in January, selling the Elliott would run counter to the progressive policies he has promised. Hopefully, our elected leaders heard what they needed to.  Lon Otterby, Vice-Chair of the Sierra Club Many Rivers Group and long-time forest advocate said, “in all my session with the State Land Board this was the most exciting and effective event I have participated on.” Let’s hope Lon is right!
Sierra Club staff with allies from Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild (photo by Josh Laughlin)

Sierra Club staff with allies from Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild (photo by Josh Laughlin)

Written with significant contributions from Howard Saxon and Lon Otterby of the Many Rivers Group. To get involved in the Sierra Club’s effort to protect the Elliott, email Chris Smith (chris.smith@sierraclub.org).