Thursday, January 20, 2011

Five Species to Join New Jersey's Endangered List

New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection plans to add five new species to the state's Endangered Species List.

The DEP proposal, which will be presented to the Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee today, would also reclassify eight other endangered species on the list so that they will only be considered endangered during certain times of the year.

Under the proposed changes, there will also be fewer categories for classifying species that do not rise to the level of endangered or threatened. Current classifications, such as "declining," "increasing" and "stable," would be eliminated and replaced by fewer categories such as "special concern," officials said....

The five species proposed for the list include three birds — the black rail, the golden-winged warbler and red knot — as well as the gray petaltail dragonfly. Also newly included on the list is the tiny Indiana bat, which has been on the federal endangered list since 1973.

The eight birds which are going to be reclassified, include the bald eagle, which has rebounded in recent years. Under the new plan, it would only be considered endangered during its breeding season from January to August. The rest of the year it would be classified as "threatened."
Unfortunately the DEP is also using the opportunity to reduce habitat protections.
The proposed changes would also reduce the need for protected habitat in New Jersey by about 31,000 acres — over 48 square miles — which could then be opened to economic development, the plan concludes.

"The net result of the proposed listing and de-listing is an overall reduction in lands protected as endangered and threatened species habitat," according to the plan. "The indirect effect is a potential for increased economic growth due to the net decrease in area determined to be potential threatened species habitat and thus restricted under other regulations."