MOUNTED TO REFORM ARIZONA WATER LAW
TRESPASS IN IRONWOOD NATIONAL MONUMENT
CHALLENGES MASSIVE CALIFORNIA DEVELOPMENT
FILED TO PROTECT STREAMS FOR ENDANGERED CALIFORNIA FISH
STURGEON PROTECTION INCHES FORWARD
ORDERS ACTION FOR SIERRA NEVADA AMPHIBIANS
MOUNTED TO REFORM ARIZONA WATER LAW
the Center for Biological Diversity, represented by the Center for Law in the
Public Interest, filed suit to strike down a fundamental but nonsensical basis
of Arizona water law: that there is no connection between a river's streamflow
and the aquifer that supplies its water. Thus while it is illegal to directly
pump water from a stream, it is legal to run the stream dry by pumping water
out of the aquifer immediately adjacent to or far from the stream. This biological
disconnect was established by the politicking of developers, miners, and agribusiness
to allow unrestrained water pumping at the expense of free flowing rivers, riparian
forests, and wildlife.
Only ten percent of Arizona's
historic riparian habitat still survives. The last vestiges along the San Pedro
and Verde rivers are now at risk due to water pumping.
IN IRONWOOD NATIONAL MONUMENT
The illegal mining expansion
into the recently established Ironwood National Monument and the fate of important
lambing grounds for the last viable desert bighorn sheep herd in the Tucson area remain
undecided after months of negotiations among conservation groups and the ASARCO/Grupo
Mexico mining company. The Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition for Sonoran
Desert Protection, Desert Watch, Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Silverbell
Mountain Alliance, Red Hill Landowners, and the Sierra Club have been negotiating
with ASARCO/Grupo Mexico, Arizona Dept. of Game & Fish and the Bureau of
Land Management over ASARCO's illegal mining incursion, offering nine different
alternatives, all of which have been rejected by ASARCO. The mining company
insists it be given 100 acres of the National Monument in exchange for unpatented
mining claims on 332 acres.
MASSIVE CALIFORNIA DEVELOPMENT
On 1-16-02, the Center for
Biological Diversity and the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society filed suit
to overturn the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approval of the largest
housing development in San Bernardino County history.
The Lytle Creek North Project
proposal would build 2,466 residential units on 647 acres of undeveloped land
that is unsafe for human habitation and within the proposed critical habitat
zone for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat. The project will require channelization
of Lytle Creek, and will destroy 400 acres of highly imperiled Riversidean Sage
Scrub and Alluvial Fan Sage Scrub. It would also harm the Los Angeles pocket
mouse, golden eagle, and white-tailed kite.
The public vehemently opposes
the development, which is notoriously unsafe, with flood, earthquake, liquefaction,
and fire hazards. The Lytle Creek North Development approval flies in the face
of the multiple-species habitat conservation planning process currently underway.
The US Forest Service, California Department of Fish and Game, and the US Fish
and Wildlife Service have all objected strongly to the project.
LAWSUIT FILED TO PROTECT STREAMS FOR ENDANGERED CALIFORNIA FISH
The Center for Biological
Diversity filed suit on 1-11-02 to force the Department of Interior to designate
and protect specific "critical habitat" areas for one of America's
most endangered fish, the unarmored threespine stickleback. The fish occurs
only in northwestern Los Angeles County and in one location in Santa Barbara
The stickleback was listed
as endangered in 1970. Thirty miles of critical habitat along the Santa Clara
River, San Francisquito Creek, Soledad Canyon, and San Antonio Creek were proposed
for the species in 1980. The designation, however, was illegally delayed leading
to the continued destruction of the few remaining healthy streams in the region.
PROTECTION INCHES FORWARD
The National Marine Fisheries
Service made a formal finding on 12-14-01 that listing the green sturgeon as
a federally endangered species may be warranted. The finding is based on a petition
submitted by the Environmental Protection Information Center, Center for Biological
Diversity and WaterKeepers Northern California in June 2001.
Green sturgeon are among
the largest and longest living species found in freshwater, living up to 70
years, reaching 7.5 feet in length and weighing up to 350 pounds. They are also
one of the world's most ancient species having remained virtually unchanged
since they appeared more than 200 million years ago. There has been an 88% decline
in the sturgeon's range along the west coast, however, due to loss of its spawning
populations from dams, water diversions, and pollution.
In addition to habitat destruction,
over-fishing is a major cause of decline. Fisheries continue to deplete a stock
of large, old fish that cannot renew itself at present harvest rates. reproductive
ACTION FOR SIERRA NEVADA AMPHIBIANS
On 12-12-01, a federal judge
ordered the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to end its stall tactics and issue
a decision as to whether the Yosemite toad and the Sierra Nevada mountain yellow-legged
frog should be protected as endangered species. The Center for Biological Diversity
and the Pacific Rivers Council filed a petition to protect both species in 2000.
Since the federal government refused to process the petition, both groups filed
suit in 2001 with the representation of Earthjustice.
The mountain yellow-legged
frog was historically the most abundant frog in the Sierra Nevada, distributed
widely in high-elevation lakes and streams, and has now disappeared from 70-90%
of its former habitat. Remaining frog populations are widely scattered and consist
of few breeding adults. What was thought to be one of the largest remaining
populations, containing 2000 adult frogs as recently as 1996, had collapsed
to only two frogs in a 1999 survey.
The Yosemite toad, once
common in the high country of the central Sierra Nevada, has disappeared from
a majority of its historic breeding sites. Declines are especially alarming
in Yosemite National Park, the species' most pristine and protected stronghold.
Both species have been adversely impacted by introduced fish species, which
prey on larval and juvenile frogs and toads, while their habitat has been degraded
by pesticide pollution, cattle grazing, pathogens, and ozone depletion.
Earthjustice filed a suit
in May 2001 on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Rivers
Council to protect the amphibians due to the serious declines of these two species.