State Water Board to Discuss Grazing Water Quality at July 18 Hearing
The State Water Resources Control Board announced last week via email that it will host an informational hearing during its July 18 Board meeting to provide an “update on regulatory and non-regulatory actions taken by the [State and regional] Water Boards with regards to grazing.”
According to the email, the informational hearing is responsive to a request received from “interested parties” at the Board’s November 15, 2022 meeting. At the informational hearing, Water Board “Staff will provide an overview of permit development activities by the Regional Boards, efforts by State Water Board staff to update the 1995 Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan, and an overview of a study prepared by US EPA contractors that characterizes the general regulatory approach of the Water Boards on grazing and compares the actions taken by the nine Regional Boards on grazing. No action will be taken by the Board at the meeting.”
CCA will participate in the July 18 hearing to emphasize ranchers’ good stewardship of the state’s water resources. CCA members are highly encouraged to participate in the hearing to highlight their on-ranch efforts to safeguard and improve water quality. Legislative Bulletin will share more details about the hearing as they are made available; for more information, or to share your water quality story with CCA staff, contact Kirk Wilbur in the CCA office.
USFWS Proposes Rolling Back ESA Reforms
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Thursday published a Proposed Rule which would roll back a variety of Endangered Species Act reforms issued in 2019 under the Trump Administration. In brief, the Proposed Rule would reimpose the “blanket 4(d)” rule, by which all ESA endangered species protections are automatically extended to species merely listed as threatened; would permit the USFWS to disregard economic impacts of its decisions on small businesses and rural communities; and would revise the agency’s process for designating as critical habitat lands not currently occupied by the threatened or endangered species for which such habitat is being designated.
The USFWS signaled its intent to rescind and replace the Trump-era regulations more than two years ago. Last year the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the 2019 rules after a federal court in the Northern District of California initially ordered that the regulations be overturned.
CCA and our national partners at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council engaged in support of the 2019 rulemaking that established the ESA reforms now under reconsideration. We will again weigh in to oppose rescinding these reforms ahead of the August 21 public comment deadline.
Fish & Game Commission Advances Greater Sage Grouse to CESA Candidacy
The California Fish & Game Commission voted earlier this month to accept a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity seeking to list Greater Sage Grouse as a threatened or endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Acceptance of the petition means that Greater Sage Grouse is now a “candidate species” which is fully protected under the provisions of CESA throughout its period of candidacy. Next, the Department of Fish & Wildlife will undertake a twelve-month status evaluation of Greater Sage Grouse in California before the Commission determines whether to list the species under CESA next year.
CCA will continue to oppose the proposed listing. Today is also the deadline to comment on a recently-reopened 2013 Proposed Rule to list the Bi-state distinct population of sage grouse under the federal ESA; CCA is already on the administrative record in opposition to that proposed rulemaking. For additional information, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.
BLM Extends Time to Comment on “Conservation and Landscape Health” Rule
The Bureau of Land Management has announced that it will extend by 15 days the comment period for the agency’s Proposed Rule regarding “Conservation and Landscape Health.” The announcement sets a new comment deadline of July 5 for feedback on the Proposed Rule. CCA opposes the Proposed Rule because provisions relating to conservation leasing and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern could have negative impacts on grazing authorizations. CCA has joined our national partner, the Public Lands Council, in calling for the Proposed Rule to be rescinded or for the comment period to be extended another 90 days, and we will submit substantive comments opposing the Proposed Rule ahead of next Wednesday’s deadline. For additional information, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.
California Department of Fish & Wildlife Issues New Beaver Depredation Policy
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) earlier this month released a new Beaver Depredation Policy. Where a property-owner requests a take permit for problem beavers, the policy highlights that “take” under California law “means to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill,” signaling the Department’s intention to promote non-lethal means of take. The policy also suggests that CDFW will condition take authorization on property-owners implementing non-lethal “corrective actions” to deter further beaver damage. For additional details on the policy, see the June 12 edition of Legislative Bulletin or CDFW’s beaver webpage.
New Episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast
A new episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast is out now! Tune into this episode to hear from Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agiriculture Karen Ross as she shares the strategic objectives of Ag Vision, a plan developed by CDFA for the next decade. To listen to the episode click here.