Environment

Louisiana black bear could move off threatened-species list

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Federal and Louisiana officials say it's time to get the animal that inspired teddy bears off the list of protected species.

The Louisiana black bear population, once down to fewer than 100, has recovered, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is making a formal proposal to remove the bear from the list of threatened species, Deputy Director Steve Guertin said Wednesday.

Scientists link dolphin deaths in Gulf to 2010 BP spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In a new study, a team of scientists says there's a definite link between the massive BP oil spill in 2010 and a record number of dolphin deaths along the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The scientists on Wednesday said large numbers of dead bottlenose dolphins found along shores since the spill suffered from lung and adrenal lesions caused by swimming in oil-contaminated seas.

California farmers propose voluntary cuts

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta who have California's oldest water rights are proposing to voluntarily cut their use by 25 percent to avoid the possibility of even harsher restrictions by the state later this summer as the record drought continues.

Under the deal expected to be presented to state officials Wednesday, farmers would either take less river water for irrigation or leave a quarter of their crops unplanted. If the state accepts the deal, Delta water managers say it may become a model for farmers throughout California, who also are facing curtailments.

Feds release fire plan to protect struggling sage grouse

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has released a plan to protect the habitat of a struggling bird species from being destroyed by wildfire.

The new firefighting strategy comes as Western states work to avoid the sage grouse's classification as a threatened or endangered species. Experts say the restrictions that come with protecting the wide-ranging birds could damage the economies of the 11 states where they are found.

To fight bee decline, Obama proposes more land to feed bees

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration hopes to save the bees by feeding them better.

A new federal plan aims to reverse America's declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations by making millions of acres of federal land more bee-friendly, spending millions of dollars more on research and considering the use of fewer pesticides.

Jewell announces Interior firefighting plan to help sage grouse

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal wildfire strategy released Tuesday aims to protect the West's sagebrush country that is home to a struggling bird species whose potential listing as a threatened or endangered species already has delayed energy projects and oil and gas deals.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was in Boise to announce the plan making greater sage grouse habitat a priority for fire prevention and response, focusing mainly on the Great Basin region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California.

Advocacy group: Wind turbine rules needed to protect birds

PORT AUSTIN, Mich. (AP) — The sky above a tabletop-flat expanse of eastern Michigan farmland near Lake Huron is a well-traveled pathway for migratory birds journeying between summer nesting areas in Canada's boreal forests and wintering grounds to the south. Thanks to reliably brisk winds, the ground below is dotted with hundreds of electricity-generating turbines.

Federal guidelines from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urge wind energy developers to locate turbines with special care in places such as the "Thumb" region of Michigan's mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula — or avoid them altogether, to prevent fatal collisions between birds and the towers' whirring blades. But an advocacy group says the government's voluntary approach is allowing too many wind farms to be built or planned for construction in important nesting areas and flight paths across large sections of the nation.

Ted Turner ranch in New Mexico caught in wolf debate

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Media mogul Ted Turner set out years ago to establish a fund to bolster the dwindling populations of everything from falcons and frogs to Mexican gray wolves, using the nearly 2 million acres he owns in a dozen western states as home base for the projects.

Now, one of his New Mexico ranches is caught in a dispute between the state and federal wildlife officials over the management of the endangered wolves.

Feds project Lake Mead below drought trigger point in 2017

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Federal water managers have released a report projecting that Lake Mead's water levels will fall below a point in January 2017 that would force supply cuts to Arizona and Nevada.

The effects could be serious. Arizona's allocation of Colorado River water could be cut 11.4 percent, or by an amount normally used by more than 600,000 homes. Nevada's share could be reduced 4.3 percent. Think 26,000 homes.

California concerns grow over oilfield operations near water

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California regulators on Monday expanded their list of thousands of state-permitted oil and gas wells where below-ground injections may be contaminating drinking-water reserves.

State water officials already have acknowledged that improperly permitted oilfield operations have contaminated underground aquifers that are federally protected because they hold current or potential sources of drinking water.

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