Arizona Daily Sun, March 28, 2009
Tamarisk plan draws lawsuit
Two environmental groups are suing two federal agencies for using tamarisk-eating beetles to fight the invasive plant in s
outhern Utah and northern Arizona.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Maricopa Audubon Society are suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, saying the beetle could ruin new habitat for an endangered bird, the southwestern willow flycatcher.
The beetles defoliate and kill the invasive trees now common along the Colorado River, and have moved from the Virgin River in southern Utah into northern Arizona and, soon, the Colorado River, the groups say.
The beetles were not supposed to be used within 200 miles of the birds' habitat, the groups say.
In 1992, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service for protection for the flycatcher, and the species was federally listed as endangered in 1995. About 1,300 known pairs of the birds exist.
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