Press Releases

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) signed a bipartisan letter urging U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Dan Ash to issue a special rule concurrently with any threatened listing of the northern long-eared bat, in order to provide flexible and practical solutions for affected industries. 

FWS is considering adding the northern long-eared bat to the endangered species list due to the white-nose syndrome fungal disease. Adding the bat to the endangered species list could eliminate forest harvesting in Arkansas from April through September to protect the bat’s habitat. 

Forestry is an important industry in Arkansas accounting for more than 27 thousand jobs with an economic impact of more than $2.6 billion. 

“In January 2014, the USFWS released Northern Long-eared Bat Interim Conference and Planning Guidance designed to answer questions it received from various federal agencies on how best to reduce harmful impacts to the bat and its habitat through certain conservation measures and activities. Since the release of this guidance, we have heard numerous concerns about the potential negative impacts these recommendations would have on forest economies if implemented, including the prohibition on harvesting timber from April 1 to September 30 each year,” the senators wrote. 

The letter was also signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar D-MN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Dan Coats (R-IN), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Al Franken (D-MN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and John Thune (R-SD). 

The following is the letter in its entirety: 

We write to express our concern about the impact of white-nose syndrome on the northern long-eared bat (NLEB) and the potential listing of the bat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

With white-nose syndrome (WNS) occurring in only 17 of the 39 states that constitute the NLEB’s range, the U.S. forest products industry, along with other stakeholders, have called into question actions taken and proposals offered thus far by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve the bat. If during the final review process the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) determines it necessary to list the northern long-eared bat as threatened, we urge you to issue a rule under Section 4(d) of the ESA concurrently in order to allow normal forest management practices and minimize economic impacts in our states. 

In January 2014, the USFWS released Northern Long-eared Bat Interim Conference and Planning Guidance designed to answer questions it received from various federal agencies on how best to reduce harmful impacts to the bat and its habitat through certain conservation measures and activities. Since the release of this guidance, we have heard numerous concerns about the potential negative impacts these recommendations would have on forest economies if implemented, including the prohibition on harvesting timber from April 1 to September 30 each year.  

The challenges that affected industries in our states would face should a threatened listing be issued could be minimized through practical and flexible solutions provided in a special rule under Section 4(d) of the ESA. By issuing a special 4(d) rule concurrently with a threatened listing, the USFWS could reduce harm to bat populations, while at the same time allowing certain typical forest and land management activities to continue.  Additionally, we urge you to revise the Interim Conference and Planning Guidance to reflect the conservation benefits from normal forest management activities to northern long-eared bats concurrent with your listing decision.  

By working together we can ensure the health of our forests, and maintain forest communities and local economies, while preserving the northern long-eared bat for generations to come. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.