Subject: FW: BIODIVERSITY ALERT #199

************* CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY *************
                 http://www.sw-center.org
                    ALERT #199 8-18-99

CENTER WINS DETAILED REVIEW OF DEVELOPMENT IMPACTS ON
  BIGHORN

JUDGE STRIKES BLOW AGAINST MINING GIANT IN CENTER SUIT

THREE TIMBER SALES NEAR GRAND CANYON APPEALED

BLM PLAN AMENDMENT PROTESTED: WOULD ALLOW ILL ADVISED
  LAND EXCHANGE WITH MINING GIANT ASARCO
                ______________________

CENTER WINS DETAILED REVIEW OF DEVELOPMENT IMPACTS ON
BIGHORN

In response to a scathingly comment letter from the
Center, the City of Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs has
reversed its position and agreed to require full
environmental review of a huge development in
endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep habitat. The Mirada
development will destroy 226 acres of sheep habitat and
result in the death of at least one bighorn. A shocking
total of 406 acres will be lost with development of
both Mirada and the adjacent Ritz Carlton resort (owned
by a subsidiary of Maxxam). But despite these massive
impacts, the City had proposed to let the Mirada
developer slide through the permitting process with a
Negative Declaration, the least possible analysis
required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

Both the Mirada and Ritz Carlton projects are located
in prime sheep habitat in the foothills of the Santa
Rosa Mountains. Bighorn populations in this range have
plummeted by 60% since the early eighties as exclusive
gated community developments have chewed up important
habitat. In an effort to counter these losses, the
Center has also sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
seeking designation of critical habitat for the
Peninsular bighorn.

The is another in a series of initiatives which are
part of the Center for Biological Diversity's Golden
State Biodiversity Initiative. The Center was
represented in this CEQA review by attorney Wayne
Brechtel.
______________________

JUDGE STRIKES BLOW AGAINST MINING GIANT IN CENTER SUIT

The Center has won an important ruling in a step
towards resolution of a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service over the agency's failure to
designate critical habitat for the loach minnow and
spikedace, two endangered Gila River basin fish. The
agency is 13 years late in protecting habitat for these
species.

Mining behemoth Phelps Dodge intervened in the case
last year and immediately sought dismissal with a
bizarre argument that the Center has no "standing" to
sue over the issue. Phelps Dodge argued that Center
employees or members would need to visit streams
occupied by the species and directly view individual
fish before they could be harmed by the agency's
failure to protect habitat. But viewing the fish is
impossible without catching them in a net, the Company
then argued, and therefore the Center could have no
standing.

But using this argument, blind people could have no
standing to bring any endangered species act lawsuit.
The Judge recognized the absurdity of the claim and
ruled that the Center could proceed with the suit.

The Center is represented in this case by attorney Matt
Kenna.
______________________

THREE TIMBER SALES NEAR GRAND CANYON APPEALED

The Center for Biological Diversity has appealed three
timber sales on the Kaibab National Forest in northern
Arizona. The Dry Park timber sale, co-appealed by the
Center, the Southwest Forest Alliance and Grand Canyon
Chapter of the Sierra Club, would log up to eight
million board feet of ponderosa pine on the Kaibab
Plateau, located on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The Plateau contains some of the finest old growth
ponderosa remaining in the Southwest, and also harbors
the densest breeding population of northern goshawk in
all of North America. Despite this fact, the proposed
action would log over 6,000 old growth trees and would
illegally cut within goshawk nest areas.

The Spring Valley timber sale, located south of the
Grand Canyon near Williams, would also log hundreds of
large ponderosa. Like the Dry Park Sale, the Spring
Valley Sale also includes proposed logging within
designated goshawk nest sites. The easily accessible
South Rim area was decimated by railroad logging around
the turn of the century, and today is nearly devoid of
large trees. The Irishman project, also located near
Williams, is a massive pinyon-juniper clearcut designed
to "improve forage conditions." The proposed action
includes the construction of over 10 stock tanks.
Despite the obvious intent of the project to increase
cattle numbers on the Irishman area, the Forest Service
refused to consider grazing in its environmental
analysis.

The Kaibab's inexplicable attempt to revive its timber
program flies in the face of widespread public and
scientific opposition to logging on public lands,
especially logging of old growth. Write to Forest
Supervisor Conny Frisch and tell her not one more
yellow pine or old growth pinyon-juniper!

Kaibab National Forest
Conny Frisch
800 S. 6th Street
Williams, AZ 86046
______________________

BLM PLAN AMENDMENT PROTESTED: WOULD ALLOW ILL ADVISED
LAND EXCHANGE WITH MINING GIANT ASARCO

A decision by the BLM to authorize an enormous land
swap with ASARCO has been formally protested by the
Center for Biological Diversity and the Western Land
Exchange Project. If approved, ASARCO would acquire
10,000 acres of land in exchange for 7,000 of its
private holdings. The public land to be given away
borders the spectacular White Canyon Wilderness, and
was an "Area of Critical Environmental Concern" (ACEC),
until BLM removed the designation two years ago under
pressure from ASARCO. ASARCO would use the land to
expand its already enormous Ray copper mine near
Hayden, Arizona, resulting in massive dewatering of the
beleaguered Gila River and threatening the recovery of
river dependent species such as the Southwestern willow
flycatcher.

The Ray exchange is merely the latest example of
corrupt relationships between Arizona BLM personnel and
the state's copper mining industry. For example, many
staffers in the Safford field office are paid by the
Phelps Dodge mining corporation to facilitate similar
exchanges. Land exchanges are required by law to be in
the public interest, but with copper prices at 100 year
lows and thousands of workers being laid off across the
state, the only interest being served is clearly the
corporate bottom line.

___________________________________________________________
Shane Jimerfield
Assistant Director
Center for Biological Diversity
Tel: 520.623.5252, ext 302              Fax: 520.623.9797
PO Box 710, Tucson AZ 85702-0710        http://www.sw-center.org