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Historic Suit Challenges Bush Plan on 155 National Forests, 192 Million Acres

On April 11, the Center for Biological Diversity and 13 allies filed an historic lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's plan to reduce protection for wildlife on the entire U.S. national forest system, including 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands. All told, the Bush plan would harm more than 13,000 species on 192 million acres stretching from Alaska to California to New Hampshire and Florida.

The new lawsuit is the third -- and hopefully last -- round in an epic battle over the future of America's national forests. A plan to weaken forest protection rules was issued in 2000, but found to be in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The plan was recycled in 2005, appearing in an even worse incarnation, but was again found illegal and struck down last year. Now the Bush administration is thumbing its nose at the courts by issuing essentially the same plan a third time. Swift legal action will ensure that the administration fails once more.

Joining the Center in the lawsuit are Citizens for Better Forestry, the Environmental Protection Information Center, the WildWest Institute, the Gifford Pinchot Task Force, Idaho Sporting Congress, Friends of the Clearwater, the Utah Environmental Congress, the Cascadia Wildlands Project, the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Wild South, the Lands Council, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, and Oregon Wild. The groups are represented by Marc Fink and Lisa Belenky of the Center for Biological Diversity, and Pete Frost of the Western Environmental Law Center.

Read more about it in the Oregonian.

Bush Would Stop Environmental Laws From Reducing Global Warming

In an April 16 Rose Garden speech devoted to global warming, President Bush began laying the groundwork for a campaign to override laws that are successfully starting to take a bite out of the problem. While proposing no meaningful policy himself, Bush attacked the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act because the courts have wisely ruled that they apply when greenhouse gases and global warming pollute the air, jeopardize endangered species, and threaten the integrity of entire ecosystems.

Kassie Siegel, the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate, Air, and Energy Program director, hit the nail on the head in a post-speech statement: "The President has proposed nothing new, while continuing to block progress both domestically and internationally." The government's failure to protect the global warming-threatened polar bear while pushing oil development in its habitat, she says, reveals the administration's true priorities.

Read Bush's speech and Siegel's statement for yourself.

Motorized Mayhem Stopped on California Coast

On April 14, the Center for Biological Diversity reached a legal settlement with the state of California requiring the suspension of a huge off-road vehicle race and jet-ski competition at Oceano Dunes. The beach is home to many endangered species including the Nipomo Mesa lupine, steelhead trout, and western snowy plover.

Last October, the state let thousands of off-roaders tear up the dunes while jet skis tore through the nearby ocean. Besides revoking approval of the yearly off-road carnage, this Monday's settlement requires full environmental analysis before future races are given the green light.

Read more in the Santa Maria Times.

Suit Moves Alaska Loon Toward Federal Protection

In response to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups, the federal government has agreed to stop delaying a decision on whether to protect the yellow-billed loon under the Endangered Species Act. It will make a final decision on the loon's fate by February 2009.

Hopefully, the imperiled bird will make it until then -- much of its Arctic tundra breeding habitat in Alaska and Russia was recently opened up to oil and gas development, and yellow-billed loons are more and more threatened by changing ocean conditions and flooding wetlands in the face of global warming.

Read more in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Extreme Runner Celebrates Earth Day, River Week With Endurance Run for Center

On April 19, Prescott, Arizona runner Thomas Arnold will add a unique event to his town's Earth Day celebration: "Baseflow," a 100-mile run back and forth between Prescott and the Verde River headwaters. The goal of the run, says Arnold, is to spread awareness and generate energy for the Verde, which is currently threatened by plans to extract area groundwater for thirsty developments. One of many events being held April 11 through 20 as part of the Center for Biological Diversity's April River Week, the run will also help raise money for the Center's Save the Verde campaign. Arnold estimates that he'll be running for about 24 hours, and he invites others to join him -- for as long as they can.

Read more about it in the Prescott Daily Courier and learn about saving the Verde River on our Web page.

Three California, Oregon Plants to Get Habitat Protection

Ending a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Bush administration agreed last Friday to designate federally protected critical habitat for three imperiled plants: the large-flowered woolly meadowfoam and Cook's lomatium of Oregon, and the San Diego ambrosia of California.

The large-flowered woolly meadowfoam, a delicate, fuzzy-stemmed annual, and the Cook's lomatium, a yellow-blossomed member of the carrot family, rely entirely on a few disappearing seasonal wetlands and vernal pools in southern Oregon. The San Diego ambrosia, a perennial blue-gray herb sporting tiny yellow flowers, has been reduced to 15 populations in Southern California--one of which consists of just a single plant.

All three are threatened by sprawling urban growth, off-road vehicles, nonnative species, and wetland destruction. Designating critical habitat will give the plants crucial protection by ensuring that human activities don't destroy their last places of refuge.

Read more in the North County Times and the Mail Tribune.

Calling All Working Assets and CREDO Customers: The Center Needs Your Vote

Now you can help earn money for the Center for Biological Diversity with the click of a button. Each year, Working Assets donates a portion of its customers' charges to a select group of progressive organizations like ours. We're excited to be on the ballot, but the percentage of votes we get from customers will determine how much we receive at the end of the year. If you get your phone service or credit card from Working Assets or are a CREDO wireless customer, you can go to the Working Assets voting page and assign maximum points to the Center (we're in the Environment section). Please support us and cast your vote now.

Go to

Action Mounting for Bats Facing Mysterious Disease -- Hear Radio Interviews

The Center for Biological Diversity and its allies have put the government on notice that more must be done to save bats from a mysterious and devastating new disease spreading through colonies in the Northeast.

Biologists estimate that hundreds of thousands of bats have died -- or soon will -- from white-nose syndrome in several eastern states. Among those affected are the endangered Indiana, gray, Ozark big-eared, and Virginia big-eared bats. The Center believes federal agencies should re-examine previous decisions to allow endangered bats to be killed by logging and road building on public lands in light of the new threat.

Hear more about it from Center conservation advocate Mollie Matteson on New York's North Country Public Radio and Northeast Public Radio.

Black is the New Green: Check Out Search Engine

If you're searching the Web -- and searching for easy ways to save energy -- try using Blackle, a new search engine powered by Google that turns your Web browser window mostly black during searches. Using Blackle saves about 15 watts of power per display, which really adds up: one blogger calculates the new search engine could save the world 750 megawatt-hours per year. And not only does using a dark computer screen save energy; it will also remind you of the importance of fighting climate change in other ways throughout your day.

Learn about it here and try it out here.

Photo credits: San Bernardino National Forest by Monica Bond, polar bear (c) Pete Spruance, western snowy plover courtesy of USGS, Verde River courtesy of USFS, San Diego ambrosia (c) Jim Rocks, and gray bat courtesy of USFWS.

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