No. 401, March 20, 2008
Charismatic Little Guys: Snails and Slugs, Shimmering Dragonflies, and Second Graders With Chutzpah
Protection Sought for 32 Pacific Northwest Snail and Slug Species, Center Biologist Speaks
On March 13 the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed a petition to protect 32 species of snails and slugs under the Endangered Species Act. Mostly found in old-growth forests, the 32 mollusks were once protected by provisions of the Northwest Forest Plan. The Bush administration eliminated those safeguards to allow for more logging on public lands, however, and now some of the Northwest's most charismatic invertebrates are vulnerable to increased logging and cattle grazing in the region.
As wildlife biologist Tierra Curry describes in a recent radio interview, aquatic snails and terrestrial snails and slugs are a critical link in the food web; they consume microorganisms and forest floor litter and are then eaten by birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, mammals, and other invertebrates. Because they are extremely sensitive to pollution, mollusks serve as prime indicators of ecosystem health.
Read this piece in the Oregonian.
Desert Tortoise Relocation Challenged
California's Fort Irwin is expanding and taking over high-grade desert tortoise habitat, and the Army has been authorized to relocate hundreds of the threatened tortoises to an area of much lower quality habitat. But based on new science documenting the health hazards of moving desert tortoises, on March 17 the Center for Biological Diversity and Desert Survivors filed notice to sue three government agencies over the relocation, which would also put healthy tortoises into contact with diseased populations.
The Center and Desert Survivors request that the Army's "mitigation" plan be improved by reducing the number of tortoises moved, making sure they're moved only into healthy populations, and improving the habitat quality of the relocation area.
Read more in the Press-Enterprise. And learn more on our desert tortoise Web page.
Center Campaign Gets Boost From New Legislation Barring Uranium Boom at Grand Canyon
In a promising move for Grand Canyon lands and wildlife, on March 17 Representative Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., announced his introduction of a law prohibiting new uranium mining projects across 1 million acres of public lands in watersheds surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. Grijalva's Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act of 2008 comes just in time to potentially save at least three areas of federal land -- previously unprotected from uranium mining -- from burial by a boom in uranium development.
Grijalva's proposed bill comes on the heels of a March 12 Center lawsuit challenging Forest Service approval of up to 39 new uranium drilling sites within only a few miles of the national park. Uranium mining contaminates waters, poses public health concerns, and has already degraded unique Grand Canyon ecosystems. Riding a wave of congressional calls to reform the antiquated law still guiding new mine approvals, Grijalva has scheduled a March 28 House hearing on uranium mining impacts on the Canyon.
Learn more in our press release.
Report Details Rollbacks for Idaho Backcountry
The Center for Biological Diversity and more than 50 local and national conservation organizations released a report March 13 detailing the Bush administration's plan to open the door to development in Idaho's roadless backcountry forests -- 9.3 million acres that comprise the last intact forest ecosystem in the lower 48 states.
The forests are currently protected under the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The Bush administration's proposed Idaho rule would open them to new logging, road construction, mining , and oil and gas operation -- increasing logging eight-fold annually and road construction four-fold. The Forest Service will be soliciting comments on the new Idaho rule through April 7. Click here to learn more and to make your voice heard.
View a Web version of the report or read about it in New West.
Southwest Energy Corridor Jeopardizes 95 Threatened and Endangered Species
The proposed 45-million-acre Southwest National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor would cut through vast stretches of protected federal and state lands in Arizona and southern California, placing at risk at least 95 threatened or endangered species. On March 12, the Center for Biological Diversity added to its challenge against the Department of Energy, declaring that the agency has violated the Endangered Species Act by risking the well-being of imperiled plants and animals.
On December 21, 2007, the Center filed a notice of intent to sue the Department over the Southwest Corridor for failing to analyze the project's impacts on the threatened or endangered species within the project area, including the southwestern willow flycatcher, desert pupfish, and Peninsular bighorn sheep. On January 10, 2008, the Center filed a complaint revealing violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Read our press release.
Bush Administration Denies Dragonfly Full Endangered Species Act Protection
The Hine's emerald dragonfly, with its shimmering, paper-thin wings and brilliant green eyes, is rapidly disappearing from the marshes of the Midwest due to urban and industrial development. Even so, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to include 13,000 acres of national forest in its critical habitat designation for the Hine's -- the only federally listed dragonfly in the country.
In response, on March 10 the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed suit challenging the Service's decision to leave out the Michigan and Missouri national forest lands -- an exclusion that effectively robs the species of its most important remaining habitat in two of the four states that remain in its range.
Learn more about the Hine's emerald dragonfly and read our press release.
Second Graders: We Bake for Polar Bears
After a class of second graders at Spring Hill Elementary in Santa Cruz, California learned about the threats of global warming, they wanted to do something about it. First, they decided to raise money for polar bears by having a bake sale, through which they made $250 -- and donated every penny to help the Center get the polar bear listed under the Endangered Species Act. Next, the kids got political and wrote letters to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dale Hall and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, encouraging the officials to protect the species and do their part to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Spring Hill second graders, the polar bear thanks you.
Read a few of the second graders' letters, and write your own letters here.
Photo credits: Chelan mountainsnail (c) William Leonard, Grand Canyon (c) Edward McCain, Idaho old growth (c) Dr. Charles Pezeshki, Hine's emerald dragonfly (c) Paul Burton
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