No. 399, March 6, 2008
Loggerheads, Wolverines, Coal-fired Power Plants, and Swordfish
Whales and Dolphins Protected From Deadly Sonar
Humpback whales and dolphins are swimming more serenely thanks to a February 29 federal court ruling limiting the U.S. Navy's use of deadly sonar blasts off the coast of Hawaii. In response to a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies and argued by Earthjustice, the court declared that "there is little disagreement that sonar can cause injury, death, and behavioral alteration to these animals." It ordered the Navy to establish "safety zones" where sonar decibel levels are to be reduced when marine mammals are within 1,500 meters and eliminated when they are within 500 meters. The court also ordered the Navy to employ sentries to look for marine mammals in the water.
Read more about this important decision in the Honolulu Advertiser.
Gas Pipeline Across Colorado Wilderness Challenged
If the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have their way, a 25-mile natural gas pipeline will be built within some of western Colorado's most pristine elk and bear habitat, turning roadless portions of two national forests into high-traffic, heavy industrial zones. On March 5, the Center for Biological Diversity and a coalition of conservation groups filed a lawsuit challenging the pipeline's approval.
Building the pipeline will also entail a 100-foot-wide construction corridor, complete with travel and passing lanes for heavy trucks and equipment. But the agencies claim these travel ways are not roads and thus their construction doesn't prohibit a nationwide ban on road building within pristine roadless areas. If the agencies' decision is upheld, new roads could be allowed in close to 60 million acres of currently protected forestland.
Read more in the Aspen Times.
Loggerhead Sea Turtles Declining, Protection May Increase
Climate change, commercial fishing, beach development, and ocean pollution are pushing loggerhead sea turtles toward extinction; in the past decade loggerhead nesting sites on Florida beaches have declined by half. On February 5, the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced they are considering elevating the species' legal status from "threatened" to "endangered." The review came in response to a scientific petition filed in November 2007 by the Center for Biological Diversity and Oceana.
Read more in the Miami Herald.
Wily Wolverine Caught on Film: First-ever Photo in Sierra Nevada
Until recently, wolverines were thought to have been extirpated from California's Sierra Nevada Mountains by hunting, logging, and development. But when an Oregon State University graduate student, intent upon studying and capturing images of martens, pointed her camera at bait placed under a tree, she got much more than she bargained for. In her research footage, Katie Moriarty happened to snap the first-ever photograph of a wolverine in the Sierra Nevada.
Learn more in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
Suit Challenges Cost of Kentucky Coal-fired Power Plant
On March 4, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed suit to force the Rural Utilities Service to publicly reveal the true environmental impacts of its plan to build a new coal-fired power plant in eastern Kentucky. The company is trying to hide the plant's impacts by ignoring the effects of new power lines being built to distribute its electricity. Since coal-fired plants are huge emitters of heavy metals, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gas pollution, the Kentucky Environmental Foundation is calling for clean, renewable energy alternatives to any proposed coal-fired power plants.
Read more in the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Petition Filed to Ban Imported Swordfish
Next time you're dining out with family and friends, think again before ordering that plate of swordfish. Did you know that imported swordfish also comes with a heaping helping of dead dolphins, whales, seals, and sea lions? Since foreign fisheries don't often regulate or monitor bycatch, tons of non-targeted marine species are slaughtered annually. On March 4, the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network petitioned the U.S. government to ban imported swordfish until exporting countries can prove they have measures in place to protect marine mammals. Currently, the United States is one of the world's top importers of swordfish, bringing in over 20 million pounds every year.
Read our press release.
International Owl Festival a Real Hoot
On March 1, supporters from around the world flocked to Houston, Minnesota, to the third annual International Festival of Owls, a celebration of owls in nature, lore, and culture. Each year the festival honors those who have made outstanding contributions to owl conservation, and this year, Mozart, a 34-year-old Eurasian eagle owl from England, was inducted into the World Owl Hall of Fame in part for his years of ambassador service.
Learn more about Mozart and his antics as an owl emissary.
The 2008 World Owl Hall of fame was sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity.
Check out our press release.
Arizona National Forest Wants to Increase ORV Trails
In a new management plan released on February 22, the U.S. Forest Service announced it will open more than 370 miles of currently closed roads and create nearly 100 miles of new trails for off-road vehicles in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, White Mountain Conservation League, and Sierra Club are opposed to this plan and maintain that if implemented, it will lead to the destruction of untold acres of public land as well as disturb designated critical habitat for threatened and endangered species, including the Mexican spotted owl.
The Apache-Sitgreaves is seeking public input on its Travel Management Plan Proposed Action. For information on the times and locations of public meetings, visit the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/.
Read our press release.
Wolverine photo courtesy of Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
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