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PNS Daily News - July 2, 20150 


We’re covering stories from coast to coast, including; the U.S. Supreme Court delays a Texas law that would have closed many of the state’s clinics that perform abortions, and the EPA says it will ban a pesticide which has been linked to ADHD, reduced IQ and other health conditions; and a report on the climate-driven rise in ticks and mosquitoes, which also raises the threat of potentially deadly insect-borne illnesses like Lyme Disease and the West Nile virus.

MT Grasslands 'Vanishing Act' Noted in 'State of the Birds' Report

May 4, 2011

HELENA, Mont. - Ferruginous hawks, greater sage grouse and long-billed curlews aren't as common as they once were in eastern Montana, according to a new federal report which lists vanishing grasslands throughout the Dakotas as a reason for the change.

A lawsuit recently filed by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) claims that federal laws to protect grasslands are not being enforced, and that farmers are being encouraged to plow grasslands under in order to plant corn for ethanol production. Julie Sibbing, NWF's director of agriculture programs, makes her organization's stance clear:

"Let's produce corn on the best acreage out there, which is what's already in production. Let's leave the rest for nature."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "2011 State of the Birds" report notes that very little grassland is public land, so protecting it is a challenge. Sibbing says Montana's prairie is home to a vast array of wildlife besides birds - from bison and elk to prairie dogs - and the area also provides important grazing lands for livestock.

"These are working lands. They should remain working lands. That's not a problem. We can still support cattle grazing. We can still support the biodiversity that rely on grasslands."

Native grasslands once spread from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains through the Midwest, Sibbing says.

The "2011 State of the Birds" report is at stateofthebirds.org. Details of the NWF lawsuit are online at tinyurl.com/3tz4v9c.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT