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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2012

    Florida Panther Getting Bad Deal But Others Are Not

    The Senate recently passed a vote to allow our public lands to be sold for industry use, endangered creatures or not, our health at risk or not. So look for big changes in our wildlife numbers. How can people eliminate species for profits? Sickening...

    Below is the Florida panther's saga which includes reducing their numbers for fracking and residencies for humans.....they also want to delist the manatee.........

    Stop The Panthers for Petroleum Program

    The comment period ends April 25.

    Right now the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is considering a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) submitted by land development and Big Oil corporations, as well as a Florida Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Commissioner that would allow for the killing, trapping, harassing and pursuit of the imperiled cats. With only 100 to 180 Florida Panthers left in the world, this could be our last chance to save them from extinction. Tell FWS to stop the Panthers for Petroleum program.

    Federal officials want to hear from the public about whether to permit a plan to allow oil drilling, mining and development in Florida's panther habitat — and to allow the killing of some panthers — in exchange for a promise to preserve some of that land.

    The officials are not only asking for comments on the proposal, but they're also holding public hearings, including one Tuesday night in Naples.

    Among the landowners seeking a federal permit is Immokalee rancher Liesa Priddy, whom Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2012.

    Priddy's JB Ranch has lost at least 10 calves to hungry panthers, according to a University of Florida study, with each panther kill costing her $1,000.

    Major landowners working with Priddy in pursuing the permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service include two sugar companies, Alico and King Ranch; the Half Circle L Ranch; Pacific Tomato Growers; English Brothers; and the Barron Collier Partnership and Collier Enterprises.

    The proposal, known as the Eastern Collier Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, will set the rules for development on 177,000 acres in Collier County. The acreage stretches from the Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest on its northern end to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and Big Cypress National Preserve to the south.

    Barron Collier Partnership and Collier Enterprises have been working for more than a decade on creating a new city — initially called Big Cypress, now nameless — that would put 10,000 residential homes on 4,000 acres of prime panther habitat in that area. Their website says the first homes should be available in 2018.

    If approved, the permit would create what is known as a Habitat Conservation Plan, allowing development and other human activities to occur on part of it while preserving the rest to make up for the damage done.

    Some undeveloped private land would be put under a conservation easement, in effect blocking any development from occurring there. That's why some environmental groups support it.

    If the plan is approved, it would give a green light to all of those plans at once, rather than making the landowners go through separate permitting for each project. That's one reason some environmental groups oppose it.

    Approval by the Fish and Wildlife Service would also give a green light to what's known as "incidental take" of endangered species in that area. The list of animals affected would include not only panthers but scrub jays, red-cockaded woodpeckers and Everglades snail kites. Under the Endangered Species Act, "take" means "to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect" a certain number of those animals.

    State officials estimate the current panther population is 100 to 180, far better than the 20 to 30 that remained in the mid 1990s. But as the population has expanded, the habitat has shrunk, gobbled up by new towns, new stores and even two new colleges.

    A scientific study by top panther experts, published last fall, calls for protecting what's left.

    "Because there is less panther habitat remaining than previously thought, we recommend that all remaining breeding habitat in south Florida should be maintained," concluded the authors of the study, "Landscape Analysis of Adult Panther Habitat."

    Taxpayers helped Priddy and the other landowners pay for creating the Habitat Conservation Plan. In 2012, the Fish and Wildlife Service awarded a grant of nearly $150,000 to aid in "concluding the planning efforts" for it.

    Feedback on the plan comes after wildlife officials announced two Florida panthers died over the weekend, according to CBS Miami. A male panther, about 6 months old, was hit by a vehicle in Collier County. The body of a another male panther, about 5 years old, was discovered along Interstate 75 in Lee County. It was also struck by a vehicle.

    Sixteen panthers have been found dead so far in 2016, all but two killed by vehicles.

    There are only 180 Florida panthers left, and drivers are killing dozens of them each year

    By Christopher Ingraham July 31, 2015

    On Thursday, a Florida panther was struck and killed by a car in Collier County, Fla. The state's motorists have killed 17 of the big cats so far this year. Given that the best estimates put the remaining wild panther population somewhere between 100 and 180 animals, Florida drivers have wiped out roughly 10 percent of the panther population in just seven months.

    Last year, Florida drivers killed an unprecedented 24 panthers, according to statistics maintained by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Collisions with automobiles are the number 1 cause of panther mortality, responsible for roughly two-thirds of all panther deaths each year. And those numbers are rising.

    But the Conservation Commission isn't terribly concerned about these numbers. It is considering a proposal, put forth by a commission member who owns a cattle ranch in the middle of panther country, to drastically cut back on the protections panthers enjoy. "Panther populations are straining and currently exceed the tolerance of landowners, residents and recreationists in the region," the memo reads. It suggests reconsidering the panther's "endangered" status under the federal Endangered Species Act.

    Under the law, there need to be at least three healthy panther populations of 240 individuals each for the government to reconsider the panther's conservation status. With only one current population of 100 to 180 cats, the state is a long way from achieving this goal. The difficulty of setting up two additional panther populations appears to be the primary reason why the Conservation Commission wants to throw in the towel.

    "The current recovery criteria are aspirational rather than practical in nature," the Commission writes. "Under this federal recovery plan, Florida will never be able to accomplish the goals necessary to recover panther populations to a point where the subspecies can be delisted." The proposal calls for the state of Florida to stop dedicating staff and funding to the federal conservation plan.

    Public backlash against the proposal has been vehement, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The proposal's claim that panther populations have "exceeded carrying capacity" for their range has been ridiculed by scientists. The Times quotes panther biologist Darryl Land as saying "there is no science supporting the statement about 'exceeding carrying capacity.'"

    The rancher who drafted the proposal, Liesa Priddy, was appointed to the Conservation Commission by Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2012. She says her ranch lost 10 calves to panthers over a period of several years, with each calf worth about $1,000. But she insists there's no conflict of interest in her plan to reconsider panther protections. "I don't see anything in this policy that's going to benefit me personally," she told the Times. (see link on the $$$ just made to sell off her land for FRACKING - our public lands across the country will follow suite, delist endangered creatures for the PROFIT OF BIG GAS AND OIL and endangerment of our health)

    There are at least twice as many cattle -- 400 of them -- on Priddy's ranch as there are panthers in the entire state of Florida. The state is already working on a plan to compensate ranchers for the costs of maintaining prime panther habitat. It would pay ranchers a yearly stipend based on the amount of acreage they own and the land management practices they implement.

    But Priddy and the Conservation Commission are proposing that the state abandon the federal conservation strategy before the compensation plan can be fully tested. Some commission members are even suggesting that the current panther population is too high, and may need to be cut. "We are not talking about having a hunt,” Commission Director Nick Wiley told the Wall Street Journal. But “we might have to euthanize an animal from time to time.”

    There's no question that restoring the Florida panther population to a healthy level is a significant challenge. But with the population on the knife edge of survival, and dozens of animals getting killed by motorists annually, it seems like an odd time to propose scaling back protections. Doing so could give Florida the dubious distinction of being one of the few states to kill off its official state animal.

    State pays $7.75 million in conservation easements to two ranchers, including wildlife commissioner

    - Liesa Priddy looks out over her Cracker cattle on her family's land, JB Ranch in Immokalee in March 2012. The ranch has been operating since the 1940's when Priddy's grandparents started it. Priddy owns a total of 9300 acres of land in Eastern Collier county that her and her ranch use for cattle, agriculture, and other farming ventures.

    Posted: Sept. 29, 2015

    By Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News

    The Florida Cabinet on Tuesday granted conservation easements for two cattle ranches, including Collier’s JB Ranch, that protects the land from development, despite opposition from Gov. Rick Scott who raised concerns about cost.

    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Liesa Priddy, who owns the JB Ranch, sold development rights to the state on 1,617 acres of its 9,303-acre spread for $3.75 million. The land was touted as a habitat for panthers, bears and plenty of protected birds, and it was closed to other protected areas. The deal also permitted drilling for oil, gas and “all other hydrocarbons” under the property.

    “So long as such as such activities are in accordance with the requirements of the Collier County Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code,” the Tuesday cabinet meeting agenda states.
    The conservation easement allows the state to protect land while allowing property owners to use it, and the amount the state pays for the land is lower than the appraised value.

    There was no discussion of the drilling rights, and the deal received unanimous approval from the cabinet. But not for a similar deal for the 1,372-acre Kilbee Ranch in Seminole County, which was approved despite dissent from Scott, who believed its cost was too high.

    The Kilbee Ranch deal included purchasing 1,286 acres at a cost of $4 million, which Scott said was too high for standards promised by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection earlier in the cabinet meeting.

    “If we just heard DEP tell us that they wouldn’t go beyond a certain amount, why would we approve it here?” Scott said. Kilbee Ranch owner Diane Gaff said she was pleased the cabinet approved the purchase but she was shocked by Scott’s opposition.

    “We could have made more money if we just sold it to a private developer,” Gaff said. “I was really surprised.”

    After the meeting, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose agency brokered both deals, said Scott’s vote sent a negative message to other ranchers.

    “While we all want to make the best deal that we can for the state, it is unrealistic to think you can find people who are willing to sell their land for less than the lowest appraised value,” Putnam said. “There’s already a sense out there, and we’ve had this conversation before, that unless you’re in a distressed position then there may not be an opportunity for you to negotiate with the state.”

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    More on Senate vote...passed, but needs final approval.......

    Senate Votes To Help States Sell Off Public Lands

    A toadstool rock formation in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

    by Claire Moser - Guest Contributor Mar 26, 2015 4:56 pm

    The new chair of the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee secured a vote Thursday afternoon in the U.S. Senate on a controversial proposal to sell off America’s national forests and other public lands.

    U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) amendment, which passed by a vote of 51 to 49, is now part of the Senate’s nonbinding budget resolution. The proposal would support and fund state efforts — which many argue are unconstitutional — to seize and sell America’s public lands. These include all national forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, historic sites, and national monuments.

    Murkowski’s amendment, which would need further legislation to become law, follows a similar proposal from House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rob Bishop (R-UT) to spend $50 million of taxpayer dollars to fund the sale or transfer of U.S. public lands to states.

    The land grab proposals in Congress this year appear to echo the calls of outlaw rancher Cliven Bundy, best known for his armed standoff with federal officials last year, who has infamously refused to recognize the authority of the federal government, including over public lands.

    Murkowski’s proposal to sell off public lands, however, is meeting stiff opposition from other western senators. On a conference call yesterday, Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) said that they are determined to turn back legislative attacks on the outdoors. Bennet called efforts to sell off lands to reduce the federal deficit “an assault on our public lands.”

    Senator Heinrich also introduced an amendment Wednesday which would block any effort to sell off public lands to reduce the federal deficit. Heinrich said that “selling off America’s treasured lands to the highest bidder would result in a proliferation of locked gates and no-trespassing signs in places that have been open to the public and used for generations.”

    Public opinion research has found that a majority of Westerners oppose land grab efforts and believe that transferring public lands to state control will result in reduced access for recreation; higher taxes; increased drilling, mining and logging; and a high risk that treasured public lands will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

    Over the past few months, sportsmen’s groups have also been battling state efforts to seize and sell off public lands by rallying in state capitols across the West. Land Tawney, Executive Director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, thanked Senator Heinrich for introducing his amendment and fighting for public lands.

    “American hunters and anglers have consistently stood up in support of U.S. public lands since Theodore Roosevelt set them aside for all Americans more than a century ago,” Tawney said. “Today, Congress has responded.”

    Claire Moser is the Research and Advocacy Associate with the Public Lands Project at the Center for
    This post has been updated to reflect the result of the vote and to reflect the fact that the proposal is nonbinding.

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