In Carson: Sand Mountain blue butterfly won’t be listed as endangered
May 3, 2007
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that the Sand Mountain blue butterfly will not be listed as a threatened or endangered species after completing a 12-month review of the unique species.
“Based on the biological evidence we have and looking at the conservation measures being implemented by the Bureau of Land Management, I believe there’s enough actions on the ground that the listing is not warranted,” said Bob Williams, field supervisor for the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office.
The initial petition to list the species as threatened or endangered was filed in April 2004 by the Center for Biological Diversity, Xerces Society, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Nevada Outdoor Recreation Association.
According to information from the Fish & Wildlife Service, the blue butterfly is known to live only at Sand Mountain, a sand dune system about 90 miles east of Carson City. The butterfly depends upon its host plant, the Kearney buckwheat, which grows on about 1,000 acres within the Sand Mountain Recreation Area, managed by the BLM.
Dr. Dennis Murphy from the University of Nevada, Reno conducted a study of the butterfly and its habitat in 2006 from July 15 to Aug. 9. According to the notice published in the Federal Register, which quoted from the study, the scientists made several conclusions.
“First, there was a large number of Sand Mountain blue butterflies ” ‘perhaps hundreds of thousands’ ” a number “substantially above a level that would indicate a need to carry out … other actions to enhance population size above a critical minimum.”
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The notice in the Federal Register further states, “even if this number represents an upper population estimate, we believe that the very large number of butterflies observed during the recent survey clearly shows that the remaining Kearney buckwheat habitat is currently sufficient to support a viable population of the Sand Mountain blue butterfly.”
Although the current butterfly population is sizable, the scientists warned that further loss of the buckwheat “will ultimately lead to the elimination of the butterfly.”
Conservationists, who had sought to have the butterfly listed under the Endangered Species Act, branded the decision the latest attempt by the Bush administration to undercut environmental protections. They say butterfly numbers have steadily decreased, and its habitat is rapidly vanishing.
“We have a finding based on a conservation plan that is politically, rather than science-based,” said Karen Schambach of the public employees group. She said the agency was more concerned with promoting off-road recreation than ensuring the viability of the butterfly.
Under direction of the Lahontan Valley Environmental Alliance, the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly Working Group was formed in August 2004 with the purpose of providing long-term protection for the butterfly and its host plant. The working group involved various parties including BLM, city of Fallon, Churchill County, California Off-Road Vehicle Association, Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, Friends of Sand Mountain, the Sierra Club, Naval Air Station Fallon and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
One of the four top candidates for Lyon County manager has withdrawn his name.
Another has been suspended by his city’s board of commissioners but will continue the interview process for the Lyon County position.
William Jon Caime, county administrator in Hart County, Ga., told county officials he was withdrawing his name from consideration and would not be at today’s interviews.
“It was his choice. We were disappointed because we thought he was an excellent candidate,” said Steve Englert, Lyon County human resources director.
Caime said in a voicemail he was withdrawing his name because he didn’t feel a move was in his best interests.
He will be replaced on the interview schedule with Jim Park, town manager of Gardnerville.
Park is a past senior management analyst of the parks and recreation department in Clark County, and has served as an irrigation systems technician also for Clark.
Meanwhile, Ronald W. Stock, city manager of Leesburg, Fla., has been suspended without pay by the board of that city’s commissioners. The vote was 3-2.
Stock was suspended on April 23 amid accusations of mismanagement of the city’s finances. The commission was poised to fire him, but he requested a hearing, as is his right according to the city charter. The hearing is scheduled for May 21.
Stock showed up for work the next day, but was asked to leave by Jay Evans, the city’s interim manager.
In his application to the Lyon County commissioners, Stock blamed politics for his dispute with his city commissioners.
On Wednesday, Stock revised a severance package request of $26,000 donated to his pension and six months severance pay in a lump sum.
He backed away from the pension request and told the city commissioners he would take the six months’ severance pay over time.
He also wants the city to pay his legal fees, estimated at $5,000 to $7,500.
The contract calls for six months’ pay and vacation compensation if he is fired. Stock is seeking the package in exchange for resigning voluntarily, effective May 31.
The six months’ severance would amount to about $64,000. Stock’s salary was $129,000 a year.
At previous meetings, Leesburg residents supported Stock, carrying “Keep Ron” signs. A petition drive to keep him was also under way, according to local media.
Stock has also interviewed for a position in Farmington, N.M.
Four candidates will be interviewed beginning at 1:30 p.m. today by Lyon County commissioners.