For Immediate Release: May 19, 2006
SIERRA CLUB AND CENTER MOVE TO PROTECT
Palm Springs, Calif. – Today the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Secretary of Interior to list the imperiled Palm Springs pocket mouse as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
This fascinating species, native to the Coachella Valley and a few other nearby areas in Southern California, has lost most of its native habitat already and is one of the 27 species that would be afforded some protection under the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). The deadline for approval of the plan is June 1. However, to move forward, the habitat plan needs approval by all the cities in the Coachella Valley, and in recent weeks some jurisdictions have expressed opposition to the plan. The Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity warn that if the plan fails to proceed and fully protect species, the pocket mouse and many other species will need the immediate protection of the Endangered Species Act.
"Loss of the Palm Springs pocket mouse is symbolic of the loss of quality of life in the Coachella Valley," said Daniel R. Patterson, Desert Ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity in Joshua Tree. “The MSHCP would help the mouse, but Endangered Species Act protection would provide the best focus, resources and legal protection to ensure its survival and recovery in the wild.”
Historically, the Palm Springs pocket mouse occurred throughout the Coachella Valley. Currently its habitat is restricted to fragmented, undeveloped land on valley floor of the lower Sonoran Desert, from the San Gorgonio Pass area east along the Little San Bernardino Mountains and east along the Peninsular Range, extending south into the San Felipe Narrows. The Coachella Valley and San Gorgonio Pass area contain the major portion of the species’ range, including the western, northern and eastern limits of its range, which also extends along the eastern edge of the Peninsular Ranges to Borrego Valley.
The principle threats to the Palm Springs pocket mouse and cause of its present imperiled state is habitat destruction, degradation and fragmentation due to agriculture, urban sprawl, energy projects, off-road vehicles, and weeds in and around the Coachella Valley, as well as the downdraft of the Mission Springs aquifer.
Other threats include ground disturbance and vegetation removal from grading, ripping and other activities; harm from construction of roads, railroads, airports and other structures; illegal trash dumping; domestic animal predators; road kill; inadequate legal protections; and significantly elevated extinction risks common to greatly reduced populations.
The Palm Springs pocket mouse is one of seven subspecies of Perognathus longimembris, the "silky pocket mice" or "little pocket mice" occurring in Southern California.
Please contact Daniel Patterson for a copy of the petition or a photograph of the Palm Springs pocket mouse.