Politics & Government

The Buzz: Inyo towhee no longer ‘threatened,’ but still a rare bird

An unassuming bird that has rebounded in California’s remote Inyo County is giving both conservatives and environmentalists something to crow about.

The Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation gets to claim victory with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new proposal to remove the Inyo California towhee from federal protection. The conservative group had sued to force action.

But in a rare win-win for the embattled Endangered Species Act, environmentalists are also pleased with the proposal. The revival of the California towhee subspecies, they say, shows the 1973 law can still work.

The Fish and Wildlife Service published the formal proposal Monday to remove the Inyo towhee from the list of “threatened” species.

The estimated population of the grayish-brown bird, found in the Argus mountains of the Mojave Desert, has grown seven times since it gained federal protection in 1987, officials say.

The move puts the Inyo towhee in rare company. Only 30 other species, including the bald eagle, have been delisted from the Endangered Species Act because their populations have recovered.

Michael Doyle

AT THE CAPITOL

Today, an Assembly Insurance Committee hearing reminds us that California, like the federal health insurance website, struggles to surmount computer glitches. Gov. Jerry Brown has flagged “multiple screw-ups” behind the recent snafu in processing unemployment insurance payments. Expected to testify: Employment Development Department officials, executives from contractor Deloitte Consulting, labor representatives and legal advocates. The hearing starts at 11 a.m. in the Capitol’s room 437.

Jeremy B. White

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