The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

June 9, 2006

From Gerald Jones. Apparently 3000 of a species is considered okay. It 
wouldn't fill a small town.

I hate this fucking country. - Alan

Subject: Manatees lose "endangered" status in FLA

Posted on Thu, Jun. 08, 2006

   WILDLIFE   Manatees lose their status as 'endangered' in state   The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to reclassify the sea cow as a 'threatened' species. Activists call the move by the state a `recipe for extinction.'   BY CURTIS MORGAN
   CUTE AND HARMLESS: Manatees play in the waters of Homosassa Springs, a favorite seasonal hangout for the aquatic mammals, in 2003.
  More photos

    The manatee, long the poster mammal of the environmental movement in Florida, lost its endangered status from the state on Wednesday.
  The controversial move was the latest and biggest political win for boating and building interests, which five years ago launched a campaign against a growing array of restrictions intended to protect the lumbering sea cows.
  Whether dropping down a notch to ''threatened'' on Florida's list of imperiled species will cost the manatee more of its state protections remains to be seen. The mammal still is covered under the federal Endangered Species Act, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also is in the process of reevaluating that designation.
  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the downlisting in a 7-0 vote, citing population estimates that have more than doubled in the past two decades to roughly 3,000 animals.
  The commission also insisted that removing the manatee's endangered tag wouldn't roll back regulations and might actually enhance them once a management plan is approved next year, a step that will formally change the manatee's status on the list.
  ''The categories indicate a level of threat and not a level of protection,'' said Ken Haddad, the commission's executive director, referring to the state's three-tier classification system -- endangered, threatened and special concern.
  Environmentalists rejected the assurances, saying the change had little to do with the prospects for Florida's manatees and everything to do with a change in the rules when the commission adopted a heavily disputed listing policy last year that they say sets the bar for ''endangered'' status too high.
  In a packed and emotional meeting in West Palm Beach, activists pleaded to maintain the endangered label and told the commissioners they were sending a wrong and potentially damaging message that manatees were doing fine.
  The agency's own biological assessment predicts no possibility of extinction over the next century, but a coin-flip chance the population could drop by 30 percent over the next 45 years. It also details a long list of threats -- increased deaths from boat strikes, red tide, habitat loss and the potential shutdown of coastal power plants that provide the thin-skinned mammals with warm refuges during the winter.
  ''This is a recipe for the extinction of manatees,'' said Drew Martin, a member of the Loxahatchee chapter of the Sierra Club.
  Commissioners also voted to remove the bald eagle from the state's list, where it had been classified as ''threatened.'' They based their decision on surveys that show a dramatic rebound in nesting from 88 nests in 1973 to about 1,400 last year and a 300 percent increase in population to more than 3,300 birds.
  They elevated two other species to ''threatened'' -- the Panama City crayfish and the gopher tortoise, a species whose population has dropped by at least half, a decline partially attributable to a state permitting procedure that allowed developers to bury them alive in the burrows they dig in dry hammocks, coastal dunes and pine scrub. Wildlife managers did not offer a pledge sought by activists to immediately stop the gruesome practice, which has killed about 74,000 tortoises since 1991. But they said they were working on plans to eliminate it and make relocating the reptiles easier.
  Management plans, which will spell out the protective measures, are expected for all four species sometime next year.
  The manatee was the focus of the most intense debate, with some four dozen manatee advocates outnumbering representatives of the marine and boating industry about 4-1.
  The appeals were often emotional. A few activists wept at the podium. One activist crushed a small china pitcher under her shoe to illustrate what happens to the brittle bones of manatees when struck by boats.
  Environmentalists said their issue wasn't with the science or numbers, but with the nomenclature.
  When the state adapted international standards for its listing, it made one critical change, tinkering with category labels. The international ''endangered'' became the state's new ``threatened.''
  To qualify as ''endangered,'' a species in Florida must face an 80 percent change of declining over 10 years or three generations, live in less than 40 square miles or have fewer than 250 adults.
  That is so severe, activists said, that by the time a species was labeled endangered, it will difficult and expensive to protect, if it can be protected at all.
  Haddad and commissioners rejected that argument. While they were troubled by the ''polarized'' view of the move, they said environmentalists were making too much of a word change and should trust that the state will protect its iconic species.
  The state had already imposed a network of slow-speed zones and other protective measures and spent years working on its listing standards and manatee studies.
  ''Threatened'' by the state definition still means at a ''very high risk of extinction,'' said Commissioner Brian Yanbonski.
  'If somebody heard the term `threatened,' in my mind, that doesn't mean happy campers,'' he said. ``This is not a popularity contest. The listing process is science-based.''
  Michael Kennedy, past chairman of the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, said boaters and fishermen didn't want to see the manatees disappear either; they just wanted reasonable access to waters.
  ''The level of environmental concern is so much higher than it was 20 years ago that we all should be proud of where we are,'' he said. ``This is a success story.''

Short Graphism

Infinitely thin projective slice of difficult equation. The compression
comes to grips with it. There may be shadows of the future, I don't know.
The coordinates are always variable. When the space moves, the spectators
become ill. Don't they?

Elsewhere, the real renders. Here it has already given up.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2006 18:30:11 -0700 (PDT)
From: Save the Manatee Club <>
Reply-To: Save the Manatee Club
To: Alan Sondheim <>
Subject: Protest Manatee Downlisting!



Hi Alan,

Despite a huge public outcry, on June 7, the Florida Fish &
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) voted unanimously to
downlist manatees from Endangered to Threatened status.

This action has little to do with how manatees are actually
faring in the wild and everything to do with pressure from
developers, the marine industries, and go-fast boaters. The
FWC has projected that the manatee population could plummet
to half its numbers within the foreseeable future. Now,
boat speed zones can be rolled back, and marina and coastal
development can move forward at an even faster pace. More
and more boats will gain access to Florida's already
overcrowded and dangerous waterways, and there will be
more pollution from stormwater runoff.

Although the FWC is vehemently denying that the manatee's
Threatened status will result in less protection, this is
emphatically untrue, and a marine industry representative
speaking at the FWC meeting was already asking for the boat
speed zones to be reviewed for weakening protections.

Save the Manatee Club, along with 16 other organizations,
has filed a legal petition asking the FWC to fix its
imperiled species classification system.


-Please help protect manatees by sending a quick and easy
online letter to FWC's executive director, Ken Haddad, the
FWC commissioners, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The e-mail
protests the manatee's reclassification and asks the FWC to
accept our legal petition to fix its imperiled species
classification system. You can also get more background
information on this issue. Just click on the link below:

-Please make a donation now. You will be helping us do whatever
it takes to defend manatees from a self-serving politically
driven process that not only devalues these beloved animals,
but also puts all of Florida's imperiled wildlife at greater risk.

-Please forward this e-mail to as many people as you can.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Save the Manatee Club is a nonprofit organization founded in 1981
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