Green Watch – February 2001

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Green Watch for February 2001 TimberLine

• Environmentalists launched an attack against Gale Norton, President Bush’s nominee to replace Bruce Babbitt as interior secretary. They plan to spend up to $1 million in an advertising blitz to defeat her nomination, labeling Norton an “anti-environmental extremist.”

Norton, who has been a strong advocate and supporter of property rights and states rights, is former attorney general of Colorado. She also served as a solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior during the administration of former president Ronald Reagan.

• Environmentalists will have to adjust to their loss of influence in the White House.

Prior to the inauguration, advisers to then-President-elect Bush took time to meet with Chamber of Commerce officials. The agenda was new environmental policies the group would like the new administration to pursue.

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The next day, leaders of two dozen environmental groups held a meeting of their own, discussing their concerns for a future without Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

The meetings illustrated a turn-about. Before Clinton’s two inaugurations, the environmentalists — championed by Gore — met on the inside, and business leaders were on the outside, worried about the next four years.

Now, environmental leaders are bracing for tough fights while business leaders are optimistic.

• Federal officials have designated stretches of western Alaska coastline and waters as protected zones for two species of sea ducks. The waterfowl are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified about 39,000 square miles as critical habitat for the spectacled eider, and 2,830 square miles as critical habitat for the Steller’s eider. The vast majority of the land already is owned and managed by the federal government.

The critical habitat designation means that government actions must not further harm the species.

• International Paper and the Nature Conservancy announced an agreement to conserve Adirondack Park in New York. International Paper will sell 26,500 acres of land for $10.5 million to the group’s Adirondack chapter and the Adirondack Land Trust.

In coming months, the Nature Conservancy will work with New York officials in a planning process and seek to convey carefully designed tracts for inclusion in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Significant portions of the lands are to remain available as private commercial working forests, subject to conservation easements.