Subject: FW: SOUTHWEST BIODIVERSITY ALERT #170

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        SOUTHWEST CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
                 http://www.sw-center.org
        #170                               2-7-98
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o SUIT PROMPTS LISTING OF MINNOW AS THREATENED SPECIES
  2nd suit planned to protect habitat

o FOUR NATIONAL FORESTS BAN OFF ROAD VEHICLES, WATER
  DIVERSIONS, GOLD PANNING TO PROTECT IMPERILED WILDLIFE

o OIL AND GAS SALE THREATENS COOK INLET WHALES AND WILDLIFE

o GRAZING DECISION HIDES IMPACTS TO SPECIES AND WATERSHEDS

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SUIT PROMPTS LISTING OF MINNOW AS THREATENED SPECIES
On 2-1-99, as ordered by a federal judge, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service issued a final rule listing the Sacramento
Splittail as a threatened species under the Endangered
Species Act. The order and ruling were prompted by a
6-1-98 lawsuit by the Southwest Center and the Sierra
Club.

Historically found in large segments of the Sacramento,
San Joaquin, Feather and American Rivers, the splittail
has been extirpated from the vast majority of its range.
Today it is largely restricted to the San Francisco Bay
Delta, Suisun Bay, Suisun Marsh and Napa Marsh.

Though the primary threat to the splittail is habitat loss,
the Fish & Wildlife Service refused to designated
officially protected "critical habitat." The Southwest
Center, therefore, has formally notified the Service
that it will file a 2nd suit to ensure habitat protection.

The Southwest Center was represented by Neil Levine
and Jay Tutchton of EarthLaw.
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FOUR NATIONAL FORESTS BAN OFF ROAD VEHICLES, WATER
DIVERSIONS, GOLD PANNING TO PROTECT IMPERILED WILDLIFE
In response to a 6-18-98 lawsuit by the Southwest Center,
four southern California National Forests have begun
instituting long delayed management reforms to protect
declining species and habitats. On 1-25-98, the Angeles
National Forest closed off nearly five square miles of
forest, including a campground and about 17 miles of
off-road vehicle trails upstream from Littlerock Reservoir
to help ensure the survival of the arroyo toad. The 3,000
acres will remain closed until 2003 while biologists
examine the area for the precise locations of toad
populations and other endangered species.

The Los Padres National Forest shut down several access
sites to the Sespe Wilderness near Ojai, and gold panning
in Piru Creek to protect the arroyo toad and the steelhead
trout. On 1-11-99, the San Bernadino National Forest
ordered a halt to water diversions from Fish Hatchery
Spring to protect the Unarmored three-spined stickleback
(a minnow). The spring is the  main water source to Shay
Pond which supports the only remaining stickleback
population in existence.

The Center is represented by Jay Tutchton of EarthLaw
(Denver) and Brendan Cummings (Berkeley)
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OIL AND GAS SALE THREATENS COOK INLET WHALES AND WILDLIFE
Further endangering the already declining Cooke Inlet beluga
whale, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources has approved
the sale of oil and gas reserves on 4.2 million acres of public
and private lands and waters in the Cook Inlet Basin in Alaska.
Though the sale bans most surface development within a half-
mile of major rivers, and within 500 feet of fish-bearing rivers
and lakes, it will increase water pollution threats within the
Inlet.
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GRAZING DECISION HIDES IMPACTS TO SPECIES AND WATERSHEDS
On 2-3-98, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife released a biological
opinion on the impacts of cattle grazing on 962 grazing
allotments on National Forests throughout Arizona and New
Mexico. The opinion, which was spurred by lawsuits by the
Southwest Center and Forest Guardians, declares that recent
changes to grazing management on 940 allotments will ensure
threatened and endangered species will not be harmed in the
next three years. Twenty-two allotments were determined to
harm endangered fish, birds, and plants. One allotment on
the Gila National Forest was judged to be likely to jeopardize
the continued existence of the loach minnow and spikedace.

Because the scientific data overwhelmingly demonstrates that
many species will decline as 10 year grazing leases allow the
Southwest's watersheds to unravel, the Forest Service insisted
the Fish & Wildlife Service only consider the effects of
grazing during an arbitrary three year period. The Southwest
Center and Forest Guardians intend to re-activate their
current lawsuits to force a full analysis of the long-term
effects of overgrazing.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Kierán Suckling                               ksuckling@sw-center.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