For Immediate Release, June 17, 2008
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Rob Mrowka, Center for Biological Diversity, (702) 249-5821
Study Finds Hundreds of Nevada Species Unprotected by Reserves or Laws
LAS VEGAS, Nev.— A study conducted by Center for Biological Diversity scientists Noah Greenwald and Curt Bradley, published this month in the international journal Biodiversity and Conservation, found that a majority of Nevada’s 384 imperiled species are not protected by reserves or laws such as the Endangered Species Act.
“Literally hundreds of species are slipping through the cracks in Nevada,” said Noah Greenwald. “Rampant urban sprawl, water withdrawal, climate change, and other threats place these species in severe danger of extinction.”
The study mapped all of Nevada’s protected reserves, which included wilderness areas, national parks, national wildlife refuges, Nature Conservancy preserves and other similarly protected areas, and cover 14 percent of the state. These reserves were then compared with location data obtained from the Nevada Natural Heritage Program on the 384 imperiled species. For species determined to have few occurrences in reserves, the study then determined if they were receiving alternate protection under the Endangered Species Act or state conservation plans. Overall , the study found that 212 (55 percent) of the 384 species had fewer than 25 percent of occurrences in reserves and of these, only 9 percent are currently receiving alternate protection under the Endangered Species Act or voluntary conservation plans. This is the first study to measure the effectiveness of Nevada’s reserves for protecting imperiled species.
“This study shows that Nevada needs more protected reserves,” said Rob Mrowka, Nevada conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Even with reserves, however, many of these species will still need protection under the Endangered Species Act.”
To identify areas that would be good candidates for protection, the study identified places that harbored concentrations, or “hotspots,” of imperiled species, which included 19 areas. Many of these 19 hotspots, such as Sand Mountain, the Ruby Mountains, and portions of the Spring Mountains, are today unprotected.
“Ensuring protection of these 19 places would go a long way towards ensuring that the Sand Mountain blue butterfly, relict leopard frog and hundreds of other Nevada species are not driven to extinction,” said Greenwald.
Although increasing reserves is critical to protecting Nevada’s biodiversity, the study found it may not be enough because a number of threats, such as climate change and water withdrawal, transcend reserve boundaries. For this reason, the study concluded that many if not most of the 384 species will need protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Study available upon request.