The polar bear is deemed a threatened species in Alaska. The Fish & Wildlife Service lists eight Alaska species as threatened or endangered. Photo: USFWSThe Trump administration has agreed to rewrite rules that would have made it easier for the government to designate areas as “critical habitat” for endangered species.Listen nowThe move is another step toward eroding the Obama administration’s environmental legacy. It comes after Alaska joined other states in a lawsuit challenging habitat rules for the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The states claim a 2016 update to the rules goes far beyond the Endangered Species Act.Maria Bahr is an assistant attorney general for the state.“Alaska hasn’t had any critical habitat designations based on the 2016 rules,” Bahr said. “However, we would be concerned about designations of critical habitat being over-broad for those designations currently being considered or those that would be prospectively considered.”Once an area is declared “critical habitat,” federal agencies have to consult with each other more before they can permit or fund projects there. The 2016 rules allowed agencies to deem an area “critical” even if a species was not using it. The lawsuit claimed the new regulations are so vague that a desert might be considered critical habitat for fish.Alaska and 19 other states dropped their legal challenge after the Trump administration agreed to reconsider the rules.The Center for Biological Diversity says the rules provided strong, reasonable protection and claims the Trump administration has shown “hostility” toward endangered species.
Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman Choice Hotels Australasia has begun 2015 by announcing five new hotels this month, adding to its expanding portfolio of properties across the country. The new properties are located across Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, and start another expected strong year of growth for Choice Hotels in Australia across all five brands.Choice’s chief executive officer Trent Fraser, said he was proud to announce the addition of five new properties and looks forward to the franchisor’s strong growth and expansion in 2015. “Choice Hotels is dedicated to continually growing our portfolio and we always enjoy working with our new franchisees to ensure they provide high quality accommodation and experiences for their guests,” Mr Fraser said. Situated in tropical north Queensland, the new 4.5 STAR Clarion Hotel Townsville offers the ultimate in comfort and class, right in the heart of the CBD and a stone’s throw away from the beaches.Offering the largest rooms in Miles, the 4 STAR Comfort Inn Swagsman in outback Queensland is close to popular attractions such as the Miles Historic Village and Bunya Mountains National Park.Choice Hotels also welcomes the new Comfort Inn Towradgi Beach, located in the small beach-side suburb of Towradgi, New South Wales.Further expanding its Victorian offering, Choice Hotels’ two new additions include Melbourne-based suburban property the Quality Inn and Suites Knox and the Comfort Inn Drouin, located in the heart of Victoria.Choice Hotels Australasia has more than 270 hotels across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, with an excess of 11,000 rooms.