FWS: ten years left for American red knot

Last month the USFWS released in advance its massive obituary for one of the most-studied birds in the world: Status of the Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa) in the Western Hemisphere

Warning! This is a 287-page pdf. That is not as offputting as it might seem, since much is supporting material, 18 pages of citations for instance, and 25 pages of habitat maps. It is also lavishly illustrated.

For the impatient reader, the actual status of the bird is baldly stated in the first paragraph of the Executive Summary:

The population of the rufa subspecies of the red knot Calidris canutus, which breeds in the central Canadian arctic and mainly winters in Tierra del Fuego, has declined dramatically over the past twenty years. Previously estimated at 100,000-150,000 . . . .

. . . . Counts show that the main Tierra del Fuego wintering population dropped from 67,546 in 1985 to 51,255 in 2000, 29,271 in 2002, 31,568 in 2004, but only 17,653 in 2005 and 17,211 in 2006.

In other words, with allowances for imperfections of methodology, in 2000 the bird’s numbers had declined to one third of historically normal levels, and by 2006 to something like one ninth of those levels. 89% wiped out. That is why most conservation groups predict it really has five years left or less. What is remarkable is that the FWs has finally recognized the severity of the situation. Not that they plan to do anything about it, mind you.

Red knots are among the great migrators, and the rufa subspecies undertakes each year the longest trip of the bunch, as can be seen in this simplified representation of the migration of the the six currently recognized subspecies, where the circles represent relative numbers:

They make the long trip in stages, most famously stopping off at Delaware Bay to double their weight on the feast of horseshoe crab eggs before proceeding north to breed. Or at least they used to.

It is notable that a document devoted to finding the reasons for the red knot’s decline has variously worded reiterations of the following statement scattered all throughout its text:

The main identified threat to the rufa population is the reduced availability of horseshoe crabs eggs in Delaware Bay arising from elevated harvest of adult crabs for bait in the conch and eel fishing industries.

The report does examine, exhaustively, dozens of other contributing factors.

Some are obvious and well-documented, such as oil spills and habitat destruction and disturbance at various locations. As the numbers continue to plummet, and conditions to deteriorate in even one of the locales critical to the bird, solitary incidents become more significant. In April, 1300 red knots were found dead in Uruguay, the presumed victims of a lethal algal bloom. That is roughly six percent of the population, gone in one event spanning at most a few days.

This is not a good time to be dependent on the health of several widely dispersed habitats.

Others are less clear, such as the probable increase in predation by raptors following the elimination of DDT and the subsequent rise in raptor numbers. Still and all,

If it is proved that there are factors that lead knots to arrive late in Delaware Bay and/or in poor condition, this does not diminish the importance of the Delaware Bay food resource. If anything, it is increased because it is of critical importance in enabling the birds to recover quickly and reach the breeding grounds on time and in good reproductive condition.

Then perhaps we should start with Delaware Bay? There isn’t space enough to go into the sorry history of interstate squabbling. When one state tried to impose restrictions on crabbing, fishermen would simply land on another shore.

Perhaps the federal government could do something? Perhaps it could take the bird under the protection of the ESA?

They simply refuse. At one point, believe it or not, they used an uptick in numbers for one season as sufficient evidence to deny the bird was in any trouble. (A favored trick pulled out for use in the case of coho salmon and many others: Ignore twenty years of observation and use one statistical outlier to justify the position you have already arrived at through political calculation.) Here is Jamie Rappaport Clark, former Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, on that decision:

No biologist worth their degree would suggest a species is on the path to recovery based on one year’s population count.
It is monumentally irresponsible to use data from one field season to suggest the bird is secure. Their decision is a political one, pure and simple.
The Bush administration’s actions make one wonder just how close to extinction an animal must be before it will act. This species is literally disappearing before our eyes and still the Bush administration refuses to take any steps to save it.

The excuse now? Pick one: several are on offer on a rotating basis. Some time is even spent in the new status report enumerating the reasons, like the incredible passage below which concludes with the observation that other species are in greater need, and there aren’t the resources to do anything anyway. Read this:

1. Inadequacies of the Federal and Regional Regulatory System

The existing regulatory system creates a number of problems for the conservation of red knots stopping over in Delaware Bay in that different agencies have jurisdiction over the protection of horseshoe crabs (and their eggs) on the one hand and red knots on the other. The birds are under the legal jurisdiction of the USFWS, and the horseshoe crabs are under the legal jurisdiction of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) which has the authority to set quotas for adoption by the states. The ASMFC is overseen by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) which has ultimate responsibility for the management and conservation of living marine resources. Presently NMFS has limited it involvement to participating in the ASMFC subcommittees and has not taken any regulatory action to protect crabs or birds. Individual states have authority to implement more restrictive harvest regulations than those set by the ASMFC and have done so on numerous occasions.

The ASMFC has promulgated a horseshoe crab management plan to conserve the horseshoe crab resource based on the current commercial uses of the crab for bait and for the biomedical industry, and the competing needs of migratory shorebirds and the federally-listed, (threatened) loggerhead turtle. The protection of the adult horseshoe crab population as food source for the loggerhead turtle is specifically identified in the plan with the recognition that the plan should be coordinated with the federal agencies having jurisdiction over the turtle population. Migratory shorebirds, and specifically the red knot, and their reliance on horseshoe crab eggs are also identified and discussed in the management plan. The plan specifically protects the food resource of the loggerhead turtle pursuant to Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA; the food resource of the red knot is not similarly protected. Although the ASMFC does not have direct legal jurisdiction to protect the food resource for the red knot, it has taken steps to improve horseshoe crab egg availability including decreasing harvest quotas, more efficient use of crabs as bait and facilitating a horseshoe crab sanctuary at the mouth of Delaware Bay.

In contrast the USFWS does have authority to protect the birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (40 Stat. 755; 16 U.S.C. 703-712) (MBTA) which provides that no migratory bird can be taken, killed or possessed unless in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty. The MBTA is the only current federal protection provided for the red knot. The MBTA prohibits “take” of any migratory bird, which is defined as: “to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect.” However, other than for nesting sites, which are not located in the United States, the MBTA provides no authority for protection of habitat or food resources. Human disturbance is cited as one of the major threats to red knots throughout it migratory range within the United States. Therefore, the MBTA provides inadequate protection to the red knot in that it does not afford red knots protection from human disturbance on migratory and wintering areas or ensure protection of food resources.

Under the Endangered Species Act 1973, a species may be designated as threatened or endangered. However, this may be precluded through lack of resources if there are species of higher conservation priority. Therefore species whose listing is warranted may receive none of the benefits of listing including those involving little or no cost. This is a shortcoming that needs to be addressed.

Where to begin? For starters, the “higher priority” argument. For one thing, doesn’t a population crash of 90% suggest urgent priority? For another, what exactly are these higher priority species? What exactly has been done for them in the last seven years?

It is necessary to mention here that while there is certainly a point in delineating the bureaucratic labyrinth as it effects red knots, crabs, turtles, etc., it is also true that the FWS loves nothing more than spending time in its published assessments, especially habitat designations, bitching about the very things it is supposed to do instead of doing them. It’s hard work.

What are we to make of a government agency that thinks part of its job is publishing elaborate excuses as to why it done hasn’t its job?

I think many people believe the FWS should act as an advocate for fish and wildlife interests, not make excuses for itself and publish eulogies and post-mortems.

While we’re on the subject, is it really good enough to release a 287-page pdf? Why is it left to BirdLife and other advocacy groups to put the information out to the public in understandable form? Why is that not part of the function of the FWS?

USFWS Red Knot page

Requiescat in Pace

Midnight Cowboying

I am not sure if the late night slot has been taken yet, but that’s where I do my best work. Since I really think all the people involved in politics are complete and utter assholes, I think it’s best if I stick with meta and late night conservations had in shady catinas or smokey French coffee houses.

So if the late night slot is still open, I’d like to have it Monday – Thursday (I am extremely unreliable on the weekends, life and all.) I plan to post some meta fictionalized reality surrealism piece that might or might not have a point.

Working title: Midnight Cowboying with Pinche Tejano

Let me know.

Is the Pony/Pie/Hide rating system too cutsie?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Thoughts on the Site

First, for me anything Buhdy does is great so take these comments as they are meant – with a grain of salt. As some reading may know my professional background is creating media so I may be a bit more critical and I hope ‘THE CREATOR’ not take it personally. Here goes:

Mission: What is the intended goal of DOCUDHARMA
The name is GREAT. To me it implies “documenting life in its many aspects”. That’s a guess. I think it need a TAGLINE

The Design: My guess is the circles at the top represent different catagories. Yes? What are they? I think this aspect needs some real hard thinking as it will define the culture of this site. I have some ideas if you want them.

Use of Video: With a name like this it is a must have. Here is my bio I can’t seem to publish

I’m known at DKOS as NOTIMPORTANT. I chose that name 5 years ago because in my career I was a “behind the scenes” person – and effective as well. 1.5 years ago I was in a near fatal car crash. I am ok, but it caused an early retirement, which is also ok. Recently I decided it was time for a new name that reflects how happy I am to be alive and thriving. Lastly, my professional expertise was in creating “branded content”. In the 80’s it was cable channels. In the 90’s it was Internet Portals and content. Now I am working on my own project which I hope to bring to this site and other – the ability to diary and comment encorporating user generated video. That will have the effect of blogs such as Docudharma less reliant on the shifting sands of corporately owned entities like YouTube. Really lastly, my ultimate goal is to work with people like Budhy to put some of this content on the digital tiers of cable systems.

So you see I am already working on this and would like community input on new ways of incorporating video.

lASTLY. and this is for everyone here, Buhdy already knows this. I think Buhdy rocks and this site could be a “changling” for the blogging world. And yes, I think the small group here is up for it. When I say changling I am talking about being the first blog to create a new dynamic in blogging that it changes all that comes after it.

To me, this site should document in words, in pictures, in music and sound and video all that is communicated by its users. Its a tall order but this is afterall, what Buhdya started isn’t it?

Hey Everybody!

Glad to see things are cooking here at Docudharma!  I apologize that I have been AWOL and probably will be for another few days.  My mother passed away Friday night.  The funeral is on Wednesday.  I’m doing fine, all things considered and will be back before you know it.  I’ll look forward to hooking back up with you then.

In the mean time, here are some thoughts from one of my heroes.


“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. . . .”

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776


“it is the great parent of science & of virtue: and that a nation will be great in both, always in proportion as it is free.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Willard, March 24, 1789

“our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Thomas Jefferson to Dr. James Currie, January 28, 1786

“nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”

Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, June 11, 1807

“I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.”

Thomas Jefferson to William Plumer, July 21, 1816

“bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. education & free discussion are the antidotes of both.”

Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, August 1, 1816

“Every generation needs a new revolution.”

Thomas Jefferson

And a couple of thoughts from another of my heroes.

“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.”

~ Ernesto


Ciao!  Hasta luego muchachos!


If I was running this conspiracy…

You know, the worst part of the Bush-Cheney cabal is how poorly it is ran. It use take years to sheer away layers of the hidden hand onion till you got to the teary filled truth. But with Bush Redux, it takes about five minutes. This is no way to run a conspiracy. If this really was an agenda for a permanent majority of capitalist plutocrats, then this is what would happen.

First off, you have to knee-cap all the ones who brought you, which has been done with Rove and Gonzo, and countless other Bush Administration officials. Now they are in the fourth quarter, they need someone with pure balls to take this game into a never-ending overtime. Enter Michael Chertoff, who even looks like an agent of Satan.

For this to really go gang-busters, here is the sequence of events that needs to happen for this to be a proper conspiracy:

1) Bush must appoint Michael Chertoff the Attorney General on a recess appointment.

2) Michael Chertoff will not resign as Director of Homeland of Security, but will now have a dual role of AG and leader of Homeland Security, let’s call him the General Attorney of the Homeland Directives (GAHD), just for shits and giggles.

3) Any attempt to see the decision making behind this will be stonewalled behind Executive Privilege, which now comes not only with backing of the AG, but also the Homeland Security!

4) Any attempts to now sue the Bush Administration will also be seen as jeopardizing Homeland Security, again backed by the GAHD.

5) Any attempts to bring a Bush Administration official before Congress will also be seen as jeopardizing Homeland Security, thanks to GAHD.

6) GAHD can also interrupt parts of the Constitution for the security of the homeland, say the 22nd Amendment.

7) Any attempt to look into what appears to be mass election fraud in 2008 will also have to be taken up with GAHD.

After that, it’s all gravy, and the country will have to bow down before GAHD.

Of course, this will never happen, because these guys have no idea how to run a proper conspiracy to overthrown the rule of law in the USA. Because if they did, Bush would appoint Chertoff in a Recess appointment, and get the ball rolling.

But if he does, watch for fireworks, especially when Chertoff announces his new dual role until a proper replacement can be found for Homeland Security. And like Cheney looking for a Vice-President, Chertoff will call his own number, and that will be the number of GAHD.

Sunday night meta

Here’s some more stuff to work on and think about…

Blog Roll
I think we should have a section for the editors blog roll (just for sites where someone is either a host or front pager), and then all the rest of the sites we want to link – with sub-sections, or not.  It would be nice if people can put a comment below with the Name and URL of their external sites.  Tell me if you want the link to have your name (e.g. Turkana), the blog name (Great Rift Valley), or both (Great Rift Valley/ Turkana).
Then I can do quick copy/paste from here. 

Add your suggestions for the general blogroll & additional subheadings.  I’m not going to put a limit on the blog roll until I see how far down the page it scrolls.

Other content for side bloxes –
We have the ability to add more bloxes in the right columns.  Look at this site: 
New Nebraska
They have links to politicians, media contacts and stuff like that.  If anyone has ideas for what to put in our boxes (I’m thinking Impeach and/or Anti-War links) post them here. 

Tasks in progress/pending
buhdy – FAQ and grand opening post
OPOL – banner and ? 
ek hornbeck – colors and HTML tweaks
OTB – GoogleAds and others, footer and side bar content

More random notes:

ek, I saw your HTML guide in the draft essay page. Looks terrific!  I ♥ superscript
AND I’m very happy to see that the [] brackets work for URL links!  I was bummed when they took that capability off DKos.

I’m going to be out of town Weds. – Sun at Burning Man (staying at Treehouse Camp)!  There is a ton of prep work to be done so I’ve been running errands and packing all weekend.  Same thing tomorrow and Tuesday – but I’m trying to check in every few hours or so.  It is so hard not to want to sit down and hang out here.  I’m obsessed with this blog already. 

OK  – that’s all I can think of for now. I’ll check back in a couple hours…

Katrina: Two Years Later

This week marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, an anniversary we’d be wise to commemorate.  If history is all about lessons learned, then the complete breakdown of local, state, and federal government – the complete inability of the world’s wealthiest nation to rescue its own citizens in a disaster that had been well anticipated – should provide us with the best possible classroom for future change.

Two years later, has anything substantial changed?  Or are we back to where we started, with nothing but a wrecked coast and a few thousand displaced lives to show for it?

First, let’s remember where we’re coming from:

There are so many people online whose lives were touched by Katrina, and it’s worth checking them out.  Last year at dailykos, wmtriallawyer started a Katrina blog project that allowed a lot of people to discuss the ways they were affected.  There’s also no shortage of survivor stories here, as well as general commentary and a useful timeline of events.

Some of these diaries are among the best you’ll ever read on that site, especially two by a user who was there throughout the storm, luckydog: They Are Not Coming and Beenie Drowned in Her House.

I was away at grad school when Katrina hit land, and all in all I was extremely fortunate.  There was plenty of loss of property, and so many memories that can never be regained, but no close relatives or friends died.

Two years later:

– My parents and all three of my surviving grandparents have relocated out of state.  Other family members have relocated within the state, and only three or four have rebuilt in the same place;
– Not one of my friends has moved back into the same house; only a small handful are even staying in the city;
– My brother was bounced from college to college, his departments closed, and his records lost or misplaced.

As I said, we were extremely extremely lucky.  Two of my grandparents didn’t want to evacuate: had we let them decide, they’d have joined the list of dead when the floodwaters topped their roof in Chalmette.

Multiply this kind of disorientation by thousands, throw in plenty of lost friends and family members, and it should be no surprise that, while there has been improvement all along the Gulf Coast, the situation is still much slower and in more need of attention than you’d expect given the rare news coverage. 

A handful of dailykos diarists have refused to let this story sink.  Ana Maria writes constantly about the state of the Coast and the twisted politics of FEMA. Transplanted Texan has published a bunch of diaries here, and also blogs about Katrina recovery at his own siteNightprowlkitty bangs the NOLA drum regularly.  Crashing Vor has followed the broken bureaucracy as it’s found time to screw over local homeowners who want to rebuild.  And there is no shortage of bloggers from the Gulf Coast who write regularly about their experiences there.

Yearlykos had an interesting but poorly-attended panel on assessing the situation post-K, particularly in New Orleans.  The themes were what you’d expect: twisted politics, fraud, race and class.  Plus ça change

So this week, please take some time to remember that there are places down South that would still appreciate the extra attention.  We have a Federal Government that screwed up royally and still hasn’t found time to fix its broken arms.  We have state and local governments that proved (and continue to prove) themselves incompetent, and they could use the extra push to do the right thing – fixing levees, cleaning out corruption, and taking control of the goddamned situation.

Pay extra attention to Katrina diaries you may see this week, and check out some of the local blogs, or even nola.com. Or find a way to support a blogger who’s running for office there

Things ARE getting better.  But that’s a relative statement, and you can still drive through abandoned, untouched chunks of St. Bernard Parish and wonder that this sort of thing happens in this country. 

(Crossposted with minor edits at dailykos.)

Carry on my wayward sonnets + Launch Date

Howdy Y’all!

Between spotty access and Real (ha!) World commitments I will may not be around NEARLY as much as I would like until I get to Todos Santos and get my satellite rehooked.

My departure has been moved back a bit, as well. It looks like the soonest we will be able to launch is around the sixth of Sept.

But it looks like you are all having fun and lord knows you don’t need me to amuse you, so as the title says, carry on!

I am working on the FAQ and moderation thing and since the consensus seemed to be ….who cares/do what you want, you are on the right track I will just go for it and folks an mount their concerns after and we will address them as we progress.

I hereby authorize all concerned to start dropping hints and rumors and rumors of the existence and imminent launch of a new and exciting site.

WITHOUT giving out the URL on penalty of highly inappropriate and prolonged tickling.

Other than that….this thread will be a good place for folks to post suggestions of what the site still needs before we open. I still haven’t heard from OPOL re graphics so we can fine tune our look. I will mail him now and put the screws to him!

So…what is still wrong with the site and what else do we need to address before launch?

Reworked poem (thanks cronie!)

i would leave …today
and walk straight through tomorrow
if only i knew
that i’d find

i remember thinking…
as we watched the
fire flies fading
like falling embers into the night
i should kiss you
in this smoldering light

in the morning…
memory brings the garden into bloom
i still smell days, just before rain
and hear the thud and splat
of water, gathering in the bird bath
and making mud of our path

the afternoon and the sun
fall through the bedroom window
all warm and yellow,
with a warmed breeze blowing over us
… those few perfect moments of rest
when there is no need for it…

these things, and a hundred more
make me pull open the door
and walk away from today
through tomorrow
and further

to find you…………………


now what a place… Cronie gave me a few ideas and i’d been mauling this piece because there was something not right… it sounded okay out loud, but didn’t read the same

for me… it’s exciting to have the balls to just hit the post on this thing and then to work it to a point that even i like it

I need help.

I am spending far too much time at the train wreck that is this site.

It’s like rubbernecking an accident.

It brings the ill-mannered adolescent in me to the surface.

Go below the surface.

Might this be a good thing?

Have I finally found a place where I can vent my antisocial tendencies?

Yes, I am behaving disgracefully there.

Except to the extent that I am trying to get one user in particular to come to terms with the fact that she is in love with me.

I realize it’s her problem and not mine, but I feel compelled, somehow, to assist.

Anyway, I may have to block that site from my computer, because I fear it is unhealthy.

And I already smoke a pack a day,

and drink 72 to 80 ounces of beer in that same time period.
I think that’s unhealthy enough.
Don’t you?

Is the Pony/Pie/Hide rating system too cutsie?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Here’s what I don’t get

That is a line I constantly have to squelch. Most recently it threatens to erupt in a diary I may or may not finish about a little beef I have with the US Fish & Wildlife Service as exemplified in a recent report of theirs.

But it happens all the time. Pretty much nonstop. Think Andy Rooney on 60 minutes. Some things just incredibly irritating, and some I really don’t understand at all.

Maybe a regular feature? I feel this way at least once a week about something or other. Surely others do as well.

And here’s another thing: maybe a “new resources column” about the new or newly discovered. Like empivot.com, the new green youtube-type clearinghouse.

Maybe best left to be irregular columns. I kind of like the idea of a branded feature that has no schedule.

Do you get it?

Interrobang ?!?…….

Load more