CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
<www.biologicaldiversity.org> 9-7-01 #282
§ NATIONAL AGREEMENT REACHED TO PROTECT 29 IMPERILED
SPECIES AND MANY CRITICAL HABITAT AREAS
§ 6,000 ACRES PROTECTED FOR WASHINGTON PLANT
§ ENDANGERED SPECIES LISTING AND 5,000 ACRES OF CRITICAL
HABITAT PROPOSED FOR NEW MEXICO BUTTERFLY
§ 11.2 MILES OF KOOTENAI RIVER IN IDAHO PROTECTED FOR
§ PETITION FILED TO PROTECT ALASKAN SEA OTTERS
§ LETTERS NEEDED TO GET CATTLE OFF UTAH NATIONAL
NATIONAL AGREEMENT REACHED TO PROTECT 29 IMPERILED
SPECIES AND MANY CRITICAL HABITAT AREAS
On 8-28-01, the Center for Biological Diversity, Southern Appalachian
Biodiversity Project, and the California Native Plant Society reached an
agreement in principle with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help
expedite the protection of 29 species and numerous critical habitat areas
under the Endangered Species Act. The species span much of the United
States from the Mariana Islands, California and Washington State to
Missouri, North Carolina, and Florida.
Under the agreement, the Fish & Wildlife Service will be given extra time
to complete eight court ordered critical habitat decisions. It will use funds
temporarily freed up by the extension to issue a rapid series of emergency,
final, proposed, and initial listing decisions for 29 species. Many of the
decisions will include critical habitat designations.
Among the species which will be protected are Washington’s pygmy rabbit
which has been reduced to just 50 individuals, the Mississippi gopher frog
with lives in a single pond threatened by development, the coastal
cutthroat trout in southwest Washington and northern Oregon, six
California species including the island fox, mountain yellow-legged frog,
and Carson wandering skipper butterfly, six southwestern species
including the Gila chub and Chiricahua leopard frog, three Utah species
including the Bonneville cutthroat trout, Missouri’s Tumbling Creek cave
snail, and the Miami blue butterfly.
For maps, species profiles and other information on the agreement:
6,000 ACRES PROTECTED FOR WASHINGTON PLANT
On 9-6-01, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designated 6,135 acres of
critical habitat for the Wenatchee Mountains checker-mallow in central
Washington. The Center for Biological Diversity negotiated an agreement
to protect the species and its habitat on 5-5-00. Like many species, the
checker-mallow had been stuck in the listing process since 1975 when the
Smithsonian Institution petitioned the federal government to protect it.
Less than 4,000 checker-mallows remain, most on 95 acres of seasonal
wetlands on the state run Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserve in
Chelan County. Smaller numbers occur on adjacent Forest Service lands
and a private parcel in Pendleton Canyon.
The distinctive checker-mallow can grow to five feet tall and has clusters
of pink flowers. It is threatened by loss of wetlands and disruption of
wetland hydrology due to logging, road building, and wetland draining for
agricultural or residential development. Cattle grazing, exotic species and
fire suppression have also contributed to its decline.
ENDANGERED SPECIES LISTING AND 5,000 ACRES OF CRITICAL
HABITAT PROPOSED FOR NEW MEXICO BUTTERFLY
On 9-6-01, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service issued a proposal to list the
Sacramento checkerspot butterfly as an endangered species and protect
5,128 acres of critical habitat for it. The proposal came in response to a
1-28-99 petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and a court order
issued on 7-31-01. The court order struck down the Department of
Interior’s illegal national moratorium on the listing of new species under
the Endangered Species Act. The judge also cut through agency claims of
poverty, noting that a congressional budget committee found the
Department of Interior to be causing its own budget crisis since “the listing
program is not proposed [by the Department] at a level that would allow
the Service to meet all of the Act's requirements and deadline."
The colorful Sacramento checkerspot butterfly is endemic to montane
meadows in a 33 square mile area within the Lincoln National Forest area
of southcentral New Mexico. As a larva and caterpillar, it relies on three
native plant hosts, including the New Mexico penstemon. It is threatened
by road construction, livestock grazing, invasive plants, climate change,
fire suppression, urban expansion, pesticide spraying, and transfer of
federal lands to spur development.
11.2 MILES OF KOOTENAI RIVER IN IDAHO PROTECTED FOR WHITE
In keeping with an agreement reached with the Center for Biological
Diversity, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designated 11.2 miles of the
Kootenai River in Idaho as critical habitat for the Kootenai River white
sturgeon on 9-6-01.
The white sturgeon is a very large, long lived fish which has thrived in the
Kootenai River for tens of thousands of years. It stopped reproducing
when Libby Dam altered the flooding pattern, streambed conditions, and
water temperatures necessary for the sturgeon to reproduce. If Libby Dam
is not removed or modified, the sturgeon will eventually go extinct due to
old age. Virtually all remaining fish are at least 26 years old- exactly
correlated with the construction of the dam in 1975.
The Army Corps of Engineers manages the dam, but routinely flouts
required sturgeon conservation measures and is thus headed for a legal
showdown with the Center later this year. In 1995, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service concluded that Libby Dam was driving the sturgeon extinct and
demanded that the Corps release greater amounts of water during the
spring spawning season. The Corps ignored the requirement. In
December of 2000, the Service again concluded that the dam was
jeopardizing the fish and again required that higher spring flood levels be
maintained. Yet the Corps refused to implement the mandatory
conservation measures again this year.
The Kootenai River white sturgeon was listed as an endangered species
in 1994. A recovery plan was created for it in 1999. It will be extinct in your
lifetime if the Army Corps of Engineers continues to ignore its legal and
ethical responsibilities to restore natural flooding patterns to the Kootenai
Also threatened by Libby Dam is the Kootenai River burbot, westslope
cutthroat trout, bull trout, and kokanee salmon. American Wildlands
petitioned to list the burbot as endangered in 2000. As part of a nationwide
agreement with the Center to issue 29 listing decisions (see above), the
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will soon issue an initial decision on federal
protection for the burbot.
Visit our Kootenai River white sturgeon web page:
PETITION FILED TO PROTECT ALASKAN SEA OTTERS
On 8-14-01, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition with the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Alaskan stock of sea otters as
"depleted" under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The petition was filed
because the largest population of sea otters in Alaska declined by over
70% between 1992 and 2000. It also requests that an updated
conservation plan for the otter be developed.
A depleted designation requires the federal government to take actions to
reduce human-caused mortality such as fisheries bycatch.
Formerly widespread and abundant throughout Alaska, the sea otter was
hunted to the brink of extinction by commercial hunters. Due to decades of
protection, its numbers rebounded, and continued to climb through the
1980's. Since the mid 1980's, however, the populations has declined
rapidly. The pre-exploitation population of sea otters in Alaska is believed
to have been between 100,000 and 150,000 individuals. Today fewer than
No sea otter population has had as dramatic a decline as the Aleutian
Islands population. Once the largest otter population in the world, it has
declined by 95% over the past few years, with perhaps only 6,000
individuals remaining. The decline of the sea otter in Alaska is tied to the
overall decline of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska ecosystems caused
by overfishing and climate change.
For more information, check out our sea otter page at:
LETTERS NEEDED TO GET CATTLE OFF GRAND STAIRCASE-
ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT
The BLM closed several large grazing allotments on Fifty-Mile Mountain in
the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument last year because of
drought, then was forced to impound the cattle when the permittees
refused to remove them. The permittees have since stolen the cattle back
and now the BLM has documented at least fifty trespass cattle on the
mountain as well as trashed springs and severe overgrazing.
Please write to the State Director of the BLM, asking her to impound all
illegal cattle and to permanently close all grazing allotments on Fifty-Mile
Sally Wisely, Utah State Director
Bureau of Land Management
P.O. Box 45155
Salt Lake City UT 84145