Wronged Lynx Now Gains 25 Million Protected Acres
The outlook for the threatened Canada lynx got about 20 times better this Tuesday when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service increased the species' federal habitat protections from 1,841 to 39,000 square miles -- 24,960,000 acres -- in acknowledgement of political meddling. The decision reverses a 2006 habitat designation made under corrupt former official Julie MacDonald, who resigned in disgrace after an ongoing investigation by the inspector general revealed she was illegally pressuring federal biologists to reach conclusions favoring lucrative industries -- in the lynx's case, timber -- over species preservation. Unfortunately, the new protected habitat designation leaves out parts of the lynx's historic habitat that should be safeguarded to allow the species to expand its range, including into areas in the southern Rocky Mountains.
Thanks to a lawsuit by the Biodiversity Legal Foundation (now merged with the Center for Biological Diversity) and Defenders of Wildlife, the majestic Canada lynx was protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2000 due primarily to threats from logging of their forest habitat. The species is also threatened by snowmobile traffic, trapping, and global warming.
Read more in the New York Times.
Bill Could Speed Salvation for Endangered Species Act, Polar Bear
Suggesting light at the end of the tunnel for the nation's flagship wildlife-conservation law, and possibly our poster species for the fight against climate change, this week the U.S. House of Representatives proposed an appropriations bill that would let President Obama rescind Bush's rules weakening the Endangered Species Act and protections for the polar bear. The rules gutting the Act, rushed through in the 11th hour of the last administration, currently exempt thousands of federal activities, including those spewing greenhouse gases, from independent review to determine whether they'll harm endangered species; Bush's rule on the polar bear exempts greenhouse gas emissions and oil development -- the two leading threats to the bear -- from regulation under the Act. Thankfully, if the new bill passes, the Obama administration will be able to withdraw the rules within 60 days of the bill's passage.
The Center for Biological Diversity has fought tooth and nail against the Bush-era rules, filing suits in defense of both the Act and the polar bear. "Many in Congress and the administration have expressed opposition to the rules," said Center executive director Kierán Suckling. "This legislation will make it easier for the administration to act on that opposition."
Read more in CQ Today.
Groups Petition for Forest-dwelling Northern Rockies Fisher
The northern Rockies fisher -- a rare, shy, but decidedly plucky relative of the weasel -- was thrown a potential lifeline this Tuesday when the Center for Biological Diversity and three allies filed a scientific petition to gain protection for the animal under the Endangered Species Act. The plush-furred mammal, similar to otters, minks, and martens, once roamed dense old-growth forests across the northern Rocky Mountains, daringly preying on snowshoe hares, birds, and even porcupines. Now, though still a tough customer, the fisher has experienced dramatic range loss and is ever more elusive thanks to logging and trapping.
In response to another Center petition, in 2004 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the Pacific fisher, the northern Rockies fisher's West Coast cousin, warranted federal protection -- but that protection was "precluded" by other priorities. Since the northern Rockies fisher faces similar threats, it needs protections just as much -- and we're working to make sure both fisher populations get the protections they need.
Read more in the Idaho Statesman.
Jaguar Dons Radio Collar; Species Still Lost Without Recovery Plan, Habitat
"Macho B," one of just four wild jaguars in the Unites States, took a place on the world's radar last week when an Arizona wildlife agency temporarily snared him south of Tucson and outfitted him with a fancy GPS radio collar to keep tabs on his whereabouts. The collar will provide the first real-time information on hour-by-hour jaguar activity in the Southwest, monitoring where Macho B explores, rests, and forages. Unfortunately, under current policy, this valuable information won't help jaguars because the Bush administration refused to protect their habitat or write a plan to help them recover, both measures the jaguar badly needs to survive here -- particularly with the construction of a border wall separating American jaguars from those in Mexico. To compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to give the great cat the help it needs, last April the Center for Biological Diversity took the agency to court; our case will be argued this March. A Center suit is also behind the jaguar's Endangered Species Act status in the United States, granted in 1997.
Every step you take, Macho B, the Arizona Department of Fish and Game will be tracking you. Let's just hope the federal government has the will to protect you and your last American peers. As Center carnivore advocate Michael Robinson declares, "Macho and other jaguars need President Obama to tear down the border wall and authorize a recovery plan and critical habitat protection."
Track the details in the Arizona Daily Star.
Thousands Flocking to D.C. for Biggest Climate Rally Ever
"You know there is a climate crisis. You know we have to solve it. It's time to take our action to the next level." So, rightly, declare the folks behind Capitol Climate Action, the largest mass demonstration for the climate in U.S. history. On March 2, thousands of people will converge on Washington, D.C. in a massive sit-in at the Capitol Power Plant -- a coal-fired plant that powers Congress with dirty energy, both symbolic and literal -- to tell the new administration and Congress that we won't stand for anything less than a clean-energy economy that will protect our climate, our planet, our fellow species, and ourselves from runaway global warming. This act of peaceful civil disobedience is driven by the need to safeguard our future -- for starters, by phasing out coal-fired power plants and reducing atmospheric CO2 to levels of 350 parts per million or below.
Besides endorsing Capitol Climate Action, the Center for Biological Diversity is sending Francisca Santana, climate associate with our brand-new Climate Law Institute, to experience the event firsthand. She'll be reporting back next week on all the happenings in D.C. But you can get in on the action Monday wherever you are by visiting www.capitolclimateaction.com for live video streaming, blogging, and photos.
Right now get involved and watch a video of renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen's call to action on the Capitol Climate Action Web site. Then learn about the Center's Climate Law Institute, on the front lines of the fight against global warming and dirty fuel.
Center Presents 19,000 Signatures Supporting Arizona River
This Wednesday at an important meeting for the fate of Arizona's gorgeous Verde River, the Center for Biological Diversity and numerous other groups unveiled a position statement and a petition boasting more than 19,000 John Hancocks in support of measures to protect the waterway from pumping to slake the thirst of big new developments in central Arizona. Endorsed by more than 20 organizations, the "Big Chino Water Pumping and Pipeline(s) Position Statement" opposes the Big Chino Water Ranch project and other planned pumping projects and large developments that could irreversibly damage the flow of the Upper Verde River and the wildlife it supports. The petition, whose signatures were collected from both local residents and online river lovers everywhere, asks the municipalities and developers behind the projects to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find ways to prevent and counter possible ecosystem damage before construction or pumping begins.
Thanks to all who signed our petition, both by hand and online. The Center and our allies are doing all we can to save Verde species, from the southwestern willow flycatcher to the roundtail chub, from having their habitat drained dry.
Check out our press release, where you can read our position statement and petition, and learn more about our campaign to save the Verde.
Forest Service Shuns Call to Halt Northeast Forest Logging
In bad news for New England's beautiful White Mountain National Forest and the species that call it home, last week the U.S. Forest Service denied an official request by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club to halt logging and road construction in one of the forest's pristine roadless areas. The Mill Brook Project, a proposed timber sale in the forest's protected Kilkenny roadless area in northern New Hampshire, would degrade crucial wildlife habitat, including habitat for species stressed by climate change like the lynx and American marten. The project would also defy the Roadless Rule, a Clinton-era law that demands protection for national forest roadless areas nationwide. The Forest Service has already started logging in two other White Mountain roadless areas, the Wild River and South Carr Mountain roadless areas.
"Some individual national forests, still operating in a 19th-century, timber-cutting mindset and embroiled in local politics, are not able to see the national significance of protecting our last remaining roadless lands," said Mollie Matteson, conservation advocate for the Center. We aim to change that.
Get details in our press release -- where you can see revealing before-and-after logging photos -- and learn more about our campaign to protect Northeast national forests.
Center Featured in New Book on "Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet"
If events over the last eight years have dimmed your hope in humanity's devotion to the environment, keep your chin up and read Edward Humes' brand-new book Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet. In it, Humes profiles "a band of visionaries -- inventors, philanthropists, philosophers, grassroots activists, lawyers and gadflies --" who are using their mental, social, and material resources to help aid our ailing Earth and persuade others to do the same.
Two of Humes' worthy visionaries are none other than Kierán Suckling and Peter Galvin, co-founders (along with Todd Schulke and Robin Silver) of the Center for Biological Diversity. Eco Barons pays special heed to our successful early efforts to protect the endangered Mexican spotted owl from the timber industry and congratulates us on winning first-time protections for 350 endangered species and some 70 million acres of habitat. Humes' point? If we can do that, the sky's the limit -- and you, too, can be an eco baron.
Read this New York Times story and check out Humes' Eco Baron blog. Then get a book for yourself (10 percent goes to the Center) and see if Humes will be stopping in your town on his book tour.
Photo credits: Canada lynx courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; polar bear by Pete Spruance; fisher courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; jaguar (c) Robin Silver; emperor penguins by Michael Van Woert, NOAA; Upper Verde River (c) Robin Silver; American marten courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Mexican spotted owls (c) Robin Silver.
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