Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Legislative Leadership Conference 2010

Jake Putnam photo

Farm Bureau Joins State in ESA Listing Fight

Boise--Idaho Farm Bureau president Frank Priestley presented Idaho Governor C.L. Butch Otter a $5-thousand dollar check to help the state pay legal fees in slickspot peppergrass listing lawsuit with the federal government.

Priestley presented Governor Otter the check during its annual Legislative Leadership Conference at the Boise Red Lion Downtowner this morning.

“We support the State’s efforts in challenging this lawsuit. In these dire economic times our farm and ranch families need to be allowed to make a living,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists wrote in the ESA listing document that the habitat continues to get worse across Idaho. Biologists added in the report that wildfire and cheat grass continue to threaten the species across the Snake River plain. Governor Otter told Farm Bureau members that the listing could impact Idaho ranchers for generations.

"On November 16th I filed a suit,” Otter said, “to challenge Interior Secretary Salazar under the Administrative Procedures act in an attempt to signal my fellow governors that if we don't draw the line here, we never will.”

Otter says the Murphy Complex fire did more to kill off slickspot peppergrass than a hundred years of grazing adding that fire helped trigger the endangered species listing.

The plant ranges from 4 to 12 inches in height, and has many tiny, white flowers that resemble the garden flower sweet alyssum. Slickspot peppergrass typically grows in small areas within larger sagebrush habitat. The plant is found only in southwest Idaho and includes Ada, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee and Payette Counties. In order to conserve the plant and to preclude the need for a federal listing, a number of private, state and federal entities developed a Candidate Conservation Agreement for the plant.

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