Subject: SW BIODIVERSITY ALERT
******* SOUTHWEST BIODIVERSITY ALERT #117 ***********
* 2/17/98 *
* SOUTHWEST CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY *
1. PETITION FILED TO LIST WEST'S ONLY CUCKOO AS ENDANGERED SPECIES
2. PETITION FILED TO LIST NEW MEXICO'S STATE FISH- THE RIO GRANDE
CUTTHROAT TROUT- AS ENDANGERED SPECIES
3. GILA DIKE PROJECT BEAT BACK AGAIN- HOPEFULLY FOR GOOD
4. CA MARINE BASE TO BE SUED FOR ENDANGERING FLYCATCHER, OTHER SPECIES
5. EDITORIAL: IMPEACH BABBITT, ENFORCE ESA
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PETITION FILED TO LIST WEST'S ONLY CUCKOO AS ENDANGERED SPECIES
On February 2, 1998, the Southwest Center and a coalition of 23 groups
(including ONRC, the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, ONDA, SUWA, EPIC, and
the Sierra Nevada Alliance) petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to
list the Yellow-billed cuckoo as an endangered species in the Western U.S.
Formerly widespread in riparian forests from British Columbia to New Mexico,
the cuckoo has been extirpated form B.C., Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada,
Utah and northern California.
The Yellow-billed cuckoo is highly dependent upon dense riparian forests. It
has been driven to near extinction in the West by cattle grazing, dam
building, agribusiness, and urban sprawl. Critical remaining areas include
the Feather, Yuba and Sacramento rivers in CA, the San Pedro, Verde and
Colorado River in AZ, and the Gila, San Francisco, and Rio Grande rivers in
PETITION FILED TO LIST NEW MEXICO'S STATE FISH- THE RIO GRANDE CUTTHROAT
TROUT- AS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES
On February 5, 1998, the Southwest Center, Southwest Trout, Carson Forest
Watch, the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, and Ancient Forest Rescue,
petitioned to list the Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout as an endangered species.
The New Mexico state fish formerly occured throughout the higher elevations
of the Rio Grande river basin from southern New Mexico(and possibly Texas)
to southern Colorado. It has disappeared from 95% of its range, however,
because of overgrazing, logging, water diversions, and competition/
hybridization with introduced game trout.
Protection for the cuckoo and trout will increase pressure to remove cattle
from western streams. They will join a suite of riparian/aquatic obligates
the Southwest Center has fought to list as endangered in the past three
years, including the Southwestern willow flycatcher, loach minnow, spikedace,
Sonoran tiger salamander, Huachuca water umbel, and Canelo Hills ladies'
tresses. The Center recently filed suit to stop grazing on 92 grazing
allotments in the Gila River basin to protect these and other species.
GILA DIKE PROJECT BEAT BACK AGAIN- HOPEFULLY FOR GOOD
The Gila National Forest has agreed to relocate a poorly planned section
of roadway along the Gila River rather than continue to pursue the
construction of two 400 foot long dikes in the Gila River near the Gila
Cliff Dwellings National Monument.
The Southwest Center fought back the proposal in 1996, but the Forest came
back with this year because of the impending "threat" of El Nino.
Construction of the dikes would have devastated an already declining
population of loach minnow and spikedace, as well as critical habitat for
the Southwestern willow flycatcher. In response to a Center petition in
1994, the Fish and Wildlife Service found that uplisting of these fish to
endangered was warranted due to continuing population declines, but
precluded by higher listing priorities. We are currently suing to
establish critical habitat for the two fish.
CA MARINE BASE TO BE SUED FOR ENDANGERING FLYCATCHER, OTHER SPECIES
The Center has officially informed Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base on
the Santa Margarita River in southern California, that it will sue if the
Marines do not formally consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
over impacts to the Southwestern willow flycatcher, arroyo toad,
California gnatcatcher, San Diego fairy shrimp, Pacific pocket mouse, and
Steven's kangaroo rat.
The base plans to build a massive levee and airport runway in the Santa
Margarita River floodplain but have not recieved an incidental take permit
from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
EDITORIAL: IMPEACH BABBITT, ENFORCE ESA
The following editorial by author Susan Zakin appeared in the Arizona Daily
Star on 2/6/98 and in newpapers throughout the West. It raises the specter
of running Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt out of office for systematically
undermining the Endangered Species Act. The full version of the editorial
is available by email:
Refusing to Enforce Endangered Species Act is Scandalous
By Susan Zakin
"People calling for impeachment are on the right track, but they should hire
a special prosecutor to investigate Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, not
Bill Clinton, says Jasper Carlton of the Colorado-based Biodiversity Legal
"Across the country, the administration is trying to resolve endangered
species conflicts by making compromises that are not only of questionable
legality, but also don't work. Relying on compromises, including deals with
developers and timber corporations known as habitat conservation plans,
often results in the significant loss of habitat with little assurance that
species will be saved..."
"The latest battleground is the city of Tucson, where two of the last 12
known cactus ferruginous pygmy owls in Arizona have been sighted. On one
side is the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity, a low-budget but
nationally prominent group with an impressive 80 percent record of courtroom
victories on endangered species. On the other are massed the combined forces
of the Clinton administration."
"Alarmed by the Southwest Center's success, which shut down all large-scale
commercial logging in national forests in Arizona and New Mexico for 26 out
of the last 34 months, Interior Secretary Babbitt in October called a
meeting of representatives from every federal agency operating in the
southwest to launch the Southwest Initiative, the latest in a line of
"Collaboration was certainly the answer for Chandis-Sherman, a real estate
developer in Southern California who is connected to the Chandler family who
owns The Los Angeles Times. Chandis-Sherman owns beach-front land on Dana
Point that is estimated to be worth as much as $1 million an acre. The
developer is being allowed to move endangered Pacific pocket mice found on
its property to a temporary 22-acre refuge until federal biologists can find
someplace else to put them. If the plan fails, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service can buy the land from the developer at the amount the land would be
worth with no endangered species living on it."
"This approach was also used to eliminate conflict over the red-cockaded
woodpecker, an endangered species in the southeast. One male woodpecker was
moved three times, but it kept coming back to the same tree. Finally,
federal officials just gave the OK to cut down the tree, one of a number of
decisions that led Jerome Jackson, the leader of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker
Recovery Team, to fire off a memo excoriating habitat conservation plans for
their ``serious scientific weaknesses.''
"In the Southwest, Babbitt didn't seem to care that he had an alternative,
since most endangered species conflicts take place on federal land. It's an
old-fashioned idea that has been all but abandoned by the Clinton
administration. It's called enforcing the law. Without enforcement of
endangered species protection on federally managed lands, how can anyone
hope for a reasonable outcome on private land in the valleys of the Sonoran
Desert, where pygmy owls live?"
"The Southwest Center of Biological Diversity's victories have given Babbitt
a chance to act like a real politician. He can throw up his hands and say,
``The environmentalists made me do it."...
"Of course, Babbitt may be waiting for the populations of California pocket
mice or red-cockaded woodpeckers to drop so low that he can reintroduce
them. With appropriate television fanfare."
Kieran Suckling firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director 520.623.5252 phone
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity 520.623.9797 fax
http://www.sw-center.org pob 710, tucson, az 85702-710