Political appointees move to undermine lynx recovery in Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information contact:

Jacob Smith, Center for Native Ecosystems 303.546.0214
Rob Edward, Sinapu, 303.477.8655 ext 2#
Sloan Shoemaker, Wilderness Workshop, 970.618.6022
Rocky Smith, Colorado Wild, 303.839.5900

Glenwood Springs, Colorado – The public comment period ends today on a Bush Administration proposal to gut lynx protections on Colorado’s White River National Forest. Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture David Tenny, a political appointee hired by the Bush Administration, ordered the Forest Service to eliminate rules that protect lynx and lynx habitat despite growing numbers of lynx on the forest.

“Deputy Undersecretary Tenny’s order makes clear that the Bush Administration puts snowmobiles, the ski industry and logging companies ahead of sound land stewardship,” said Jacob Smith, executive director of Center for Native Ecosystems.

A coalition of regional and national conservation groups sent extensive comments (copy available upon request) to officials of the White River National Forest regarding the December 2, 2004 order. Charging that the order puts politics over science, the groups urged the agency to subject the order to a thorough public comment and environmental review process. “This unscientific and blatantly illegal move jeopardizes Colorado’s lynx population – animals the taxpayers have spent millions recovering,” said Sloan Shoemaker, executive director of the Wilderness Workshop. “This deal is bad for Colorado’s wildlife and bad for those that value our high quality of life.”

“This is the Bush Administration’s latest volley in the ‘No Lynx Left Alive Initiative’,” said Rob Edward, director of the carnivore restoration program for Sinapu, arguing that Deputy Undersecretary Tenny’s order is part of a larger Bush agenda to roll-back environmental protections. Edward underscored the fact that the order went as far as truncating the public review process mandated for such important policy changes. “The Administration’s order is devoid of science and common-sense. Perhaps that explains why they’ve put it on the fast track – to avoid scrutiny. The lynx can’t speak for themselves in this matter, and the Bush Administration seems to think that nobody else should speak for them either.”

“Colorado has worked hard to recover the lynx, and gutting lynx protection like this is a huge step backward,” said Rocky Smith, Program Director of Colorado Wild’s Forest Watch Campaign.

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