For Immediate Release, December 9, 2008
Contact: Jay Lininger, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 853-9929, firstname.lastname@example.org
Center for Biological Diversity Warns Bush Administration of Threats to
Desert Tortoise and California Condor on Public Land
Management Plans for National Monuments Near Grand Canyon
Fail to Protect Endangered Species
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity today notified the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service of its intent to file a lawsuit against the agencies for their failure to protect the desert tortoise and the California condor, as well as other species, in crafting their management plans for huge tracts of public land near the Grand Canyon.
The management plans created by the federal agencies govern most activities in the Arizona Strip – the largely public land in northwestern Arizona bordered by the Grand Canyon to the south. The land includes portions of two popular national monuments: Grand Canyon-Parashant and Vermilion Cliffs. The agencies’ plans authorize a number of activities, including roads and off-road vehicle use; livestock grazing; construction of power lines; oil and gas exploration and drilling; and uranium mining, all of which will result in harm to the desert tortoise and condor in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
The plans also fail to require use of non-lead ammunition by hunters on public land managed by the Bureau. The use of lead ammunition has been clearly demonstrated to cause lead poisoning of the condor, and was recently banned by the State of California.
“The Park Service and the Bureau had an opportunity to protect these two iconic species — the California condor and the desert tortoise — as well as others, but instead chose a path of least resistance,” said Jay Lininger, an ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity in Flagstaff. “There are a couple of problems with their approach: the law doesn’t support it, and the science doesn’t support it, therefore we’re not going to allow it to move forward.”
At issue in the agencies’ management plans is their reliance on a biological opinion prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that signed off on numerous impacts to endangered species while ignoring others. The biological opinion, and the BLM and Park Service’s reliance on it, both violate the Endangered Species Act.
“It’s our hope that the agencies take this notice letter seriously and go back to the drawing board and produce new plans that we can all be proud of,” Lininger said. “If they don’t, we’ll fight for protection of these special places and wildlife that depend on them.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with 200,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.