Report: To revive sage grouse will cost millions
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — A federal agency says rebuilding a sage grouse population found only in Colorado and Utah could take more than 50 years and cost nearly $561 million.
The Daily Sentinel reported Saturday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft recovery plan for the Gunnison sage grouse, which is listed as a threatened species.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife estimates the bird’s population at more than 3,000, primarily in Colorado’s Gunnison Basin.
Officials say the bird is found only in eight western Colorado counties and one eastern Utah county.
Planned recovery actions include invasive weed treatment and improved livestock grazing practices.
The largest proposed expense is nearly $309 million to acquire conservation easements or purchase private lands.
The plan was developed by federal, state and nongovernment organizations with local input.
All evacuations lifted for Southern California wildfire
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities lifted all evacuation orders as firefighters made progress Sunday on a large blaze that sent thousands fleeing homes and farms northwest of Los Angeles.
Crews working in steep terrain were tamping down hotspots and keeping an eye on lingering gusts in mountain areas that could carry embers, said Ventura County Fire Capt. Steve Kaufmann.
“I’d say we’re cautiously optimistic,” Kaufmann said, citing calmer winds overall and rising humidity levels.
Firefighters have contained 50% of the blaze, which has burned nearly 15 square miles of dry brush and timber. Three buildings were destroyed.
More than 11,000 people evacuated after the flames spread Oct. 31 during dry winds that fanned fires across the state this fall.
In his first recent comments on the California fires, President Donald Trump threatened to cut U.S. aid funding to the state.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has done a “terrible job of forest management,” Trump tweeted. When fires rage, the governor comes to the federal government for help. “No more,” the president tweeted.
Newsom replied with a tweet of his own: “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”
California has increased fire prevention investments and fuel management projects in recent years while federal funding has shrunk, the governor’s office said in a statement.
McDonald’s CEO pushed out after violating policy
NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald’s chief executive officer has been pushed out of the company after violating company policy by engaging in a consensual relationship with an employee, the corporation said Sunday.
The fast food giant said former president and CEO Steve Easterbrook demonstrated poor judgment, and that McDonald’s forbids managers from having romantic relationships with direct or indirect subordinates.
In an email to employees, Easterbrook acknowledged he had a relationship with an employee and said it was a mistake.
“Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on,” Easterbrook said in the email.
McDonald’s board of directors voted on Easterbrook’s departure Friday after conducting a thorough review. Details of Easterbrook’s separation package will be released Monday in a federal filing, according to a company spokesman. He will also be leaving the company’s board. Easterbrook was CEO since 2015.
McDonald’s would not provide details about the employee with whom Easterbrook was involved, and an attorney for Easterbrook declined to answer questions.
The board of directors named Chris Kempczinski, who recently served as president of McDonald’s USA, as its new president and CEO.
Whistleblower willing to take written questions
WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawyer for the whistleblower who raised alarms about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine said Sunday his client is willing to answer written questions submitted by House Republicans.
The surprise offer, made to Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, would allow Republicans to ask questions of the whistleblower, who spurred the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, without having to go through the committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Attorney Mark Zaid tweeted that the whistleblower would answer questions directly from Republican members “in writing, under oath & penalty of perjury,” part of a bid to stem escalating efforts by Trump and his GOP allies to unmask the person’s identity. Only queries seeking the person’s identity won’t be answered, he said.
“Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job nor is impeachment an objective. That is not our role,” Zaid tweeted. “So we have offered to @DevinNunes.”
“We will ensure timely answers,” he said.
Nunes’ office did not have immediate comment. Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and member of the House Judiciary Committee who has been highly critical of the impeachment process, said in a statement that written answers wouldn’t be sufficient to probe and cross-examine the whistleblower.
“You don’t get to ignite an impeachment effort and never account for your actions and role in orchestrating it,” Jordan said. “We have serious questions about this individual’s political bias and partisan motivations and it seems Mark Zaid and Adam Schiff are attempting to hide these facts from public scrutiny. Last week’s testimony raised even more concerns about the anonymous whistleblower and our need to hear from them, in person.”
The offer comes as Trump has repeatedly demanded the release of the whistleblower’s identity, tweeting Sunday that the person “must come forward.” The whistleblower raised concerns about Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he pressed Zelenskiy to investigate Trump’s political rivals. That call became the catalyst for the impeachment inquiry.