CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
<www.sw-center.org> 5-9-00 #236
§ WHITE ABALONE PROPOSED AS ENDANGERED SPECIES
§ SUIT FILED TO PROTECT COOK INLET BELUGA WHALE
§ SUIT FILED TO FORCE CONSIDERATION OF REFORM TO
BLUE RIDGE DAM
§ JUDGE STOPS CALIFORNIA DEVELOPMENT TO SAVE
ENDANGERED SPECIES -- NEWSPAPER EXPOSES
CORRUPTION BY U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE
§ DON'T LET GAME AND FISH DUMP ARIZONA'S WOLVES!
SEND A LETTER TODAY
WHITE ABALONE PROPOSED AS ENDANGERED SPECIES
On 5-5-00, in response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity,
the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to list the white abalone
(Haliotis sorenseni) as a federally endangered species.
The white abalone is a marine snail which occurs from Point Conception,
CA to Punta Abreojos, Baja California, Mexico. Its numbers have declined
precipitously putting the species in imminent danger of extinction. The
white abalone once numbered between 2 and 4 million animals but have
been severely depleted by commercial fishing. The most recent surveys
estimate that fewer than 2,500 remain, a decline of over 99%. White
abalone are broadcast spawners, requiring males and females to be within
a few meters of each other for successful fertilization and reproduction to
occur. The few abalone that escaped commercial harvest are now too few
and far between to successfully reproduce.
The life span of an individual white abalone is estimated to be between 35
and 40 years. Thirty-four years have passed since the last known
successful recruitment of the species in 1966. Scientists have predicted
that the species will be extinct in less than a decade unless immediate
action is taken. The white abalone will be the first marine invertebrate
protected under the ESA.
SUIT FILED TO PROTECT COOK INLET BELUGA WHALE
On 5-8-00, a coalition of environmental groups and a former Native
subsistence hunter filed suit to force the National Marine Fisheries
Service to take action on a petition to protect the Cook Inlet beluga whale
under the ESA. Joining the Center for Biological Diversity in the litigation
are the Alaska Center for the Environment, Alaska Community Action on
Toxics, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Center for Marine Conservation, National
Audubon Society, and Joel Blatchford an Inupiat Eskimo who formerly
hunted beluga whales in Cook Inlet but has since become an advocate for
The Cook Inlet beluga whale is an isolated, genetically distinct population,
occurring in the most developed region in Alaska. Once numbering over
1000, the population has been reduced by hunting to about 350 remaining
whales. It is threatened by oil development, commercial fishing activity,
and discharge of urban and industrial wastes. In March 1999, the Center
for Biological Diversity, Trustees for Alaska, Center for Marine
Conservation, Joel Blatchford, and other filed a formal petition to list the
species as "endangered" under the ESA. Though the Endangered Species
Act requires NMFS to make a decision within one year, the agency has
not done so. The coalition is represented by Jack Sterne of Trustees for
SUIT FILED TO FORCE CONSIDERATION OF REFORM TO BLUE
On 5-08-00, the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for failing to respond to a formal
petition filed under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to protect the
endangered Little Colorado River spinedace which is being driven to
extinction by the Blue Ridge Dam on East Clear Creek, AZ. FERC has
jurisdiction over the dam which is owned by mining conglomerate Phelps
The petition requests that FERC submit the dam's impacts to the U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service for review, and release more water to ensure the
survival of the spinedace. Currently, the dam releases only 2.5 cfs during
low flows. Low water levels and elimination of natural flood cycles are two
of the major threats to the species. The Fish & Wildlife Service formally
requested that FERC consult over the effects of the dam operation to the
spinedace and its formally designated critical habitat in 1992. To this date,
FERC has refused.
Phelps Dodge illegally constructed on the Coconino National Forest in
1963 to facilitate a complex interbasin water transfer. It allows water to be
pumped from East Clear Creek (Little Colorado River Basin) into the East
Verde River, a tributary of the Gila River. Having put more water in the Gila
River Basin, Phelps Dodge is then permitted to pump water out of the
Black River to its massive Morenci Mine in southeast Arizona.
Because of their massive ecosystem disruption, dams are one the world's
largest causes of species imperilment and environmental degradation. The
Center's campaign to remove or reform critical dams in the West has
targeted Hoover Dam, Roosevelt Dam, Isabella Dam, Blue Ridge Dam,
Matilija Dam, the Fossil Creek dams, and Glen Canyon Dam. The Center
is the fiscal sponsor of the Glen Canyon Action Network.
Dan Rolhf, Director of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center
(Portland), is arguing the Blue Ridge case.
JUDGE STOPS MASSIVE CALIFORNIA DEVELOPMENT TO SAVE
ENDANGERED SPECIES -- NEWSPAPER EXPOSES GROSS
CORRUPTION BY U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE, DEPARTMENT
OF INTERIOR, AND U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
On 5/3/00, Judge Jeremy Fogel issued a preliminary injunction halting
work on the "Ranch at Silver Creek" golf course and luxury home
development just outside San Jose, CA. The injunction was won in a
lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Guadalupe-Coyote
Resource Conservation District, a state chartered agency. The two
groups sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for allowing the 575
acre development to proceed despite very strong evidence that it would
harm two endangered plants (the Santa Clara dudleya and the Metcalf
canyon jewelflower) and the Bay checkerspot butterfly.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists vigorously opposed the project,
but were cast aside by agency bureaucrats after the powerful developer
persuaded anti-environmental congress-persons to apply political
pressure to make the development go forward regardless of its impact
on the environment. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists initially threatening
to prosecute the City of San Jose and developer Presley Homes Inc.
(now William Lyon Homes) for illegal take of endangered species. After
inappropriate and illegal intervention by members of congress, however,
the Service withdrew all its objections.
The case is being argued by Mark Wolfe (San Francisco) and Matt
Kenna of Kenna & Hickcox (Durango).
The San Jose Mercury News broke the political intervention story on May
4th, exposing a series of internal memos by betrayed federal biologists
and long trail of illegal political meddling. While this type of corruption is
common within the Fish & Wildlife Service, it is rarely uncovered in such
San Jose Mercury News, May 4, 2000
Judge halts grading on butterfly habitat
BY BARRY WITT
A federal judge has ordered work halted on a major golf course and
housing development in San Jose's Silver Creek hills, ruling federal
officials failed to ensure that the rare bay checkerspot butterfly and
other endangered species would not be harmed...The ruling could
cause at least a year's delay, according to the developer, and could
cost the company $5 million.
The ruling affirms the development's history as ``a classic example of
political interference with the management of the environment,'' said
Peter Galvin, a conservation biologist with the Center for Biological
Diversity, which filed the suit along with the Guadalupe-Coyote Resource
Conservation District. ``It's a sad example of how (the Fish and Wildlife
Service) caves in and doesn't fulfill its mandates, and it's a wake-up
call that these political machinations are happening as a threat to open
space and wildlife.''
According to documents obtained by the Mercury News, the Silver
Creek development was a source of bitter disputes within the Fish and
Wildlife Service and caught the attention of several California
congressional representatives and high-ranking officials in the
Department of the Interior, which oversees the service.
Lower ranking biologists had concluded that the developer needed the
agency's agreement on what portions of the property could be
developed because so little habitat remains for the butterfly...After
preliminary grading on the property began last July, the service's
Sacramento field supervisor issued a strongly worded letter to San
Jose's planning department threatening the city with violating the
Endangered Species Act if the city allowed the developer to continue.
As a result, the city refused to issue the developer another grading
permit that would allow deep cuts into the hillside until the federal
environmental issues were resolved.
But by October, Fish and Wildlife withdrew its threat, even as agency
investigators were in the middle of a probe into whether the early
grading work violated federal law.
In between, Rep. Gary Miller -- a former developer and Republican from
Diamond Bar in western Los Angeles County -- had written to Interior
Secretary Bruce Babbitt charging that the wildlife officials in Sacramento
had treated the developer unfairly. In his Aug. 31 letter, the first-term
congressman accused the Sacramento officials of engaging in a ``gross
abuse of power'' in their efforts to stop the development.
An Oct. 7 letter from Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Riverside, to the Fish and
Wildlife Service asked that the developer's ``ongoing plight" and
apparent "mistreatment'' be addressed. Miller and Calvert represent
districts hundreds of miles from San Jose...Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the San
Jose Democrat whose district includes the Silver Creek hills, wrote a
shorter letter on Oct. 13 seeking to ``better understand the concerns
of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.''
By late September, according to the documents, Assistant Secretary
of the Interior Donald Barry had gotten involved in the matter, and two
weeks later the Sacramento office reversed course and told the
developer no attempts would be made to stop further grading on portions
of the property that had been disturbed in July...Barry did not respond
Wednesday to a request for comment.
Barry's actions clearly irked lower-ranking officials in the Sacramento
office, who wrote a December memo to put on record their objections to
what had happened.
``We do not believe (the service's) position is supported by the record,'"
wrote Cay Goude, assistant field supervisor for endangered species, and
Michael Thabault, a deputy assistant supervisor. Their memo stated the
grading that already occurred had violated the Endangered Species Act
and that the law would continue to be broken ``as a result of further
DON'T LET GAME AND FISH DUMP ARIZONA'S WOLVES!
SEND A LETTER TODAY
At the next meeting of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, the
commissioners will consider whether to cancel its participation in
the Mexican gray wolf recovery program. The politically appointed
commission is actively hostile toward endangered species and
environmental protection. Please write them today to show once
again that the public is overwhelmingly in support of wolf reintroduction.
The next commission meeting is scheduled for Friday May 19 in Safford,
AZ at the Ramada Inn, 420 E. Hwy. 70. The time is set for 1pm for an
update on the reintroduction and overview of the number of wolves
currently in the wild. If you can make the meeting that would great, but if
you can't please write the commission now.
Governor Jane Dee Hull Arizona Game & Fish Commission
1700 W. Washington St., 9th Floor 2221 W. Greenway Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85007 Phoenix, AZ 85023-4399
(800) 253-0883, fax (602) 542-1575 fax (602) 789-3299
phone (520) 628-6580, fax 628-6512
ENDANGERED TOTEMS. Eleven of the twelve western states have adopted
imperiled species as their state fish: New Mexico (Rio Grande cutthroat
trout), Arizona (Apache trout), Colorado (Greenback cutthroat trout), Utah
(Bonneville cutthroat trout), Nevada (Lahontan cutthroat trout), California
(Golden trout), Oregon (Chinook salmon), Washington (Steelhead trout),
Idaho, Montana and Wyoming (Cutthroat trout).
Kierán Suckling firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director 520.623.5252 phone
Center for Biological Diversity 520.623.9797 fax
<www.biologicaldiversity.org> POB 710, Tucson, AZ 85702-0710