Lawmakers, Chamber of Commerce Want Public Input Heard Over Bladderpod Protection
Washington state legislators and the Pasco Chamber of Commerce have weighed in on the controversial "bladderpod" plant controversy in Franklin County.
In a polite, but strongly-worded letter, they requested the U.S. Forest Service seek out public comment before designating 2,800+ acres of the White Bluffs area as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA).
The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, acting on behalf of the Department of Interior, announced in late April they were setting aside the acreage on the Pasco side of the Columbia River to protect a species of sagebrush known as the bladderpod. Environmental groups had sued the government over its failure to protect the plant, and this was part of the settlement.
However, the Fish and Wildlife Service did not notify numerous Franklin County farmers that 419 acres of their farmland would be included and would essentially be taken away. Below is the letter sent to Douglas Zimmer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dated May 9, 2013:
It has come to our attention about the US Fish and Wildlife’s intent to list the White Bluffs Bladderpod on the endangered species list. We would like for US Fish & Wildlife Service to allow for public comment before this action is taken.
Landowners were not contacted regarding this proposed listing of bladderpod for endangered status.
NEPA requires that any federal agency planning any action that would impact any county, must notify and engage in negotiations with local officials and our Natural Resources Advisory Committee. This was violated under 16 U.S.C. Section 1533 (b)(A)(ii) requiring that in not less than ninety (90) days before the effective date of regulation, the Fish and Wildlife Service is required to give actual notice to local governments of its intent to propose a subspecies for listing or change or propose critical habitat. This was not done for either the May 15th, 2012 listing of the White Bluffs Bladderpod as ‘threatened’, or the April 23, 2013 listing as ‘endangered’.
In summary, the Pasco Chamber of Commerce is requesting the US Fish and Wildlife to provide more transparency and provide public comment on this proposed action.
CC: Senator Patty Murray
Senator Maria Cantwell
Congressman Doc Hastings