November 9, 2001


  • BUSH ADMINISTRATION SUPPRESSES POLAR BEAR REPORT CRITICAL OF ARCTIC REFUGE OIL DRILLING
  • SCIENTIFIC REPORT: WESTERN TROUT NEED ROADLESS HABITAT
  • 22,000 ACRES TO BE PROTECTED FOR TWO CALIFORNIA PLANTS
  • CALIFORNIA GOSHAWKS DODGE TIMBER BULLET
  • AGREEMENT REACHED TO RE-ESTABLISH CRITICAL HABITAT FOR ENDANGERED ARIZONA PYGMY OWL

BUSH ADMINISTRATION SUPPRESSES POLAR BEAR REPORT CRITICAL OF ARCTIC REFUGE OIL DRILLING

On 10-30-01, the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the Bush administration for refusing to publicly release a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report suggesting that opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling could undermine the entire U.S. polar bear conservation strategy and violate an international polar bear agreement. Though the report was requisitioned by Congress in response to complaints about oil drilling and hunting, the Bush administration has refused to complete the report, send it Congress, or even release it to the public. Instead, it is pushing Congress to approve oil drilling before the impacts are revealed.

To find out more about the lawsuit and the suppressed report, click here.

Washington Post article.


SCIENTIFIC REPORT: WESTERN TROUT NEED ROADLESS HABITAT

The newly formed Western Native Trout campaign released a scientific report on 11-5-01 showing the importance of roadless areas to imperiled native western trout. Using GIS technology and biological indicators of trout health, the report shows that the remaining healthy populations of native trout are strongly correlated with roadless areas. If these areas are fragmented with road construction as proposed by the Bush administration, extinction of unique trout populations and possibly entire species may result.

Over 2.8 million acres of roadless area were lost in the past two decades alone.

The Western Native Trout Campaign is a coalition of conservation and angling groups dedicated to studying, protecting and enjoying the West's native trout. The report was produced by Biodiversity Associates, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Pacific Rivers Council.

Visit the Western Native Trout Campaign.

ENN story on the trout report.


22,000 ACRES TO BE PROTECTED FOR TWO CALIFORNIA PLANTS

Fulfilling a court order won by the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service issued proposed rules to designate and protect 22,054 acres of critical habitat for the purple amole (Chlorogalum purpureum) on 11-8-01 and the Kneeland prairie penny-cress (Thlaspi californicum) on 10-24-01.

The amole, a member of the lily family, occurs in oak woodland and grassland habitats in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. It is threatened by military training, off-road vehicles, fire suppression, cattle grazing and invasive non-native species. "Amole" is an Aztec name brought to the U.S. by Spanish explorers from Mexico. It is also sometimes called a "soap plant" because Native Americans crushed the underground bulb into a lather with which to glue arrows together. The fibers of the bulb jacket were used to make brushes.

The penny-cress, a member of the mustard family, is endemic to serpentine soil on the outer north coast range of Humboldt County. It has declined by 48% since 1997 with only 5,100 plants remaining today. It is threatened by habitat fragmentation and destruction, primarily in the form of roads and helipad construction.

The penny-cress and amole are two of 181 California plants protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Most of these plants, including the amole, were first petitioned for federal protection by the Smithsonian Institution in 1975, but languished in bureaucratic limbo for decades until the Center and CNPS filed suit to protect them. Center initiatives have led to the listing of 84 California species, including 69 plants, and over 5.8 million acres of protected critical habitat.

Learn more about the Center's Goldenstate Biodiversity Initiative.


CALIFORNIA GOSHAWKS DODGE TIMBER BULLET

On 10-10-01, the California Board of Forestry rejected a petition by a logger to remove the northern goshawk from the state "sensitive" species list. Delisting would have opened more of the goshawk's mature forest habitat to logging. During a board hearing, the Center for Biological Diversity presented evidence that the goshawk is vulnerable to logging impacts and needs stronger, not weaker conservation measures.

The goshawk is not entirely safe, however. The existing state conservation guidelines allow too much logging and the Board of Forestry plans to review its entire sensitive species program from a decidedly timber production perspective.

Learn more about the Center's Campaign to protect goshawks.


AGREEMENT REACHED TO RE-ESTABLISH CRITICAL HABITAT FOR ENDANGERED ARIZONA PYGMY OWL

To head off future litigation and ensure that habitat is protected for Arizona's endangered cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife have reached an agreement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that calls for the redesignation of critical habitat for the owl within 16 months. The agreement was submitted to a federal judge for approval on 11-1-01.

Through scientific petitions and litigation, the Center won federal protection for the tiny but fierce owl in 1997 and the designation of 731,000 acres of critical habitat in 1999. The habitat protection, however, was struck down on technical grounds on 9-21-01. Based on new biological research, we expect the new critical habitat designation to be significantly larger than the previous.


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