Saturday, November 6, 2010

$7M set for border habitat work

Federal money for jaguars and bats - or people?

That's the question ranching advocates raised after the federal government announced details for spending nearly $7 million to restore borderlands damaged by construction of the border fence.

From environmentalists and a public preserve manager came this answer: The feds have spent billions on border fences real and virtual, and it's about time to spend tens of millions protecting animals and plants.

In the next few years, authorities will spend the money to develop jaguar management plans, scan remote camera photos for the cats, close dirt roads and restore wetlands along the border. They'll reseed worn soils, monitor fish populations, build a fish barrier, count bat roosts and study bat movements, and plant agaves.

These actions are in the first leg of a $52 million federal program designed to compensate for damage to endangered species habitat on public lands by the border fence and other security measures.

Land managers and environmentalists called the money a good start, but some borderlands ranchers and their spokesmen in the Arizona Cattlemen's Association were less receptive. The association issued a news release titled "Jaguar Receives Green Card," saying the money should protect people first...

[Full Article]