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America Outdoors E-Bulletin
November 11, 2005

Lynx Critical Habitat Proposed in Maine, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota and Washington; Hearings Set Park Service Releases Final Grand Canyon River Management Plan
600 Industry Leaders to Convene at Confluence

Lynx Critical Habitat Proposed in Maine, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota and Washington;
Hearings Set
  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently announced the proposed designation of critical habitat for the contiguous United States distinct population segment of the Canada lynx pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. Approximately 26,935 square miles are identified as proposed critical habitat in four units in the States of Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, and Washington. Final designation may result in a variety of public use restrictions on affected lands.

Unit 1 is located in northern Maine in portions of Aroostook, Franklin, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Somerset Counties. Unit 2 is located in northeastern Minnesota in portions of Cook, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis Counties. Unit 3 is located in northwestern Montana and a small portion of northeastern Idaho in portions of Boundary County in Idaho and Flathead, Glacier, Granite, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Pondera, Powell and Teton Counties in Montana. Unit 4 is located in north-central Washington in portions of Chelan and Okanogan Counties.

Some lands in these areas are already committed to lynx conservation and not slated for "critical habitat" status. For example, the proposal does not include lands within Lynx Analysis Units in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, because they do not meet the definition of critical habitat pursuant to section 3(5)(A) of the ESA as a consequence of the Superior National Forest having amended its Forest Plan to adopt the Lynx Conservation Assessment and Strategy. These lands are not included in the estimated square miles of the proposed designation.

In addition, USFWS is not proposing to designate critical habitat on the Federal lands within seven National Forests in Idaho, Montana, and Washington that are covered by the May 2005 Conservation Agreement, and therefore do not meet the definition of critical habitat.

These lands, however, are included in the estimated square miles of the proposed designation owing to difficulties in obtaining accurate estimates of the area of Federal land within each national forest boundary in a timely manner. This will be corrected in the final designation.

The USFWS will collect comments from all interested parties until February 7, 2006. Public hearings and informational sessions will be held on the following dates:

December 7, 2005, Minnesota

December 14, 2005, Maine

January 10, 2006, Montana

January 18, 2006, Washington
600 Industry Leaders to Convene at Confluence
  Attendance at Confluence should be the best in the past five years with registrations already surpassing registration goals. An exciting new agenda and a recovering industry are among the reasons for the strong showing. Total attendance, including vendor representatives, will surpass 600. Over 400 people are expected to attend the Night of the Caballeros Party, a great celebration and reunion of industry leaders.

Several programs have been added to the Confluence Agenda.
  • A special meeting for new members and first-time attendees is planned for Tuesday evening, 6:30 PM in the Gold Room.
  • The Experience Economy. Michael Terry, Ph D has been added to the opening general session on Wednesday, November 30th.
  • Visa/MasterCard Processing Forum: How to Avoid Extra Charges, Charge-backs and other Costs, with Diane Jablonski, ABN AMRO Merchant Services, is scheduled for Friday afternoon, December 2nd.
  • A few seats remain for the optional seminar on Revenue and Profit Maximization scheduled for Saturday, December 3rd. See the program descriptions for more information.
Register online and check out the agenda and program briefs. Click here to register online. Southwest flies into Reno 800-435-9792. Other airline fares may be accessed through www.sidestep.com. For hotel reservations call the Silver Legacy at 800-687-8733 code AMERI for the $59 rate.
Park Service Releases Final Grand Canyon River Management Plan
  The final environmental impact statement (FEIS) to revise the Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) for Grand Canyon National Park was released yesterday. The National Park Service (NPS) prepared the FEIS for the CRMP under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The Hualapai Tribe was a cooperating agency in the preparation of the EIS.

"We think it's a workable plan," said Mark Grisham, Executive Director of the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association, "We would have done some things differently, but recognize that the Park had a tough balancing act."

Private and commercial split allocations will be retained with private use gaining an almost equal number of user days.

There will be significant changes to commercial operations. Included among those
  • Commercial use is spread out into the shoulder seasons with some launches in June and July moved to April and September.
  • Party size was cut from a maximum of 36 passengers to a maximum of 28 passengers.
  • 46 motorized launches were cut. The ratio of commercial motorized use to oar use changed from the current 3 to 1 (motorized to oar) to 2 to 1.
While the plan is complete, a lot of mopping up remains. Outfitters and Grand Canyon National Park will now scramble to implement a launch schedule for next year, which will have to be completed by early January. Several observers, including the Park Service, expect litigation. Some environmental groups want greater limits on the number of people and others want to eliminate motorized use altogether.

Publication of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register on November 10, 2005 initiates a 30-day no-action period. Although the NPS is not accepting public comment on the FEIS, the document is available for public review. Following the 30-day no-action period, a Record of Decision (ROD) will be prepared that documents the NPS decision and rationale for that decision. The ROD will be released to the public and a summary will be published in the Federal Register.

A complete copy of the FEIS can be downloaded at www.nps.gov/grca/crmp. A CD with the complete document is also available by sending an email to grca_crmp@nps.gov or writing to CRMP Team at P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon AZ 86023.
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