Suit Wins Hope for Vanishing Butterflies
Through a legal settlement won this week by the Center for Biological Diversity, two of Southern California's rarest butterflies will be reconsidered for endangered status. Hermes copper and Thorne's hairstreak butterflies, natives of San Diego County, are threatened by rampant sprawl, wildfire, and climate change. To save them from extinction, the Center filed a legal petition with the Bush administration to protect them. Federal biologists agreed with the Center, but -- surprise -- they were ignored by Bush bureaucrats. The Center sued, and seeing the writing on the wall, the Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to redo the decisions -- respecting science this time.
This case is part of a larger campaign to overturn Bush-era political meddling in endangered species decisions. So far, the Center has challenged 53 tainted Bush decisions, winning reversals in every completed case.
Get more from voiceofsandiego.org and check out our campaign to clean up Bush's legacy.
Condor Habitat-wrecking Developer Wins Eco-villain Rubber Dodo Award
The Center for Biological Diversity today announced the long-awaited winner of our 2009 Rubber Dodo Award: real-estate bigwig Michael Winer. As portfolio manager for the giant real-estate firm TAREX, Winer is a main man behind the largest developments in California and Florida, which would destroy tens of thousands of acres of endangered species habitat. In California, TAREX is leading the Tejon Ranch in building two entire new cities, destroying thousands of acres of federally designated "critical habitat" for the endangered California condor. Tejon is also home to the California red-legged frog, San Joaquin kit fox, and other protected species on California's precious Tejon Ranch. In Florida, TAREX is investing in the St. Joe Company's cursing of the Florida Panhandle with tens of thousands of acres of high-end developments.
Says Center Senior Counsel Adam Keats: "Under Winer's money-obsessed leadership, TAREX has become the poster child for unsustainable, endangered species-killing sprawl. . . . There is good reason that even Wall Street commonly calls TAREX a 'real estate vulture.'"
Read more about the Rubber Dodo Award in our press release and learn details about our campaigns to save Tejon Ranch and the California condor.
Bay Area Sprawl Sent Back to Drawing Board
In good news for Bay Area endangered species, the city of Pleasanton has agreed to heed the Center for Biological Diversity's demand to redo its flawed environmental analysis for the 124-acre Staples Ranch development. The city proposed the sprawl next to tributaries of Alameda Creek and potential habitat for the imperiled California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, western pond turtle, and the rare San Joaquin spearscale plant . . . but, er, "forgot" to mention it was building a four-lane thoroughfare through the habitat. Roll cameras, cue the lawsuit, and . . . this week the city agreed to redo the analysis -- including all roads -- before moving forward.
Get more from the Contra Costa Times.
Apocalypse Soon: Halloween Interview on Overpopulation with Kierán Suckling
Scared of ghosts, goblins, and jack-o-lanterns? None of those are on the Santa Fe Reporter's list of the top five environmental horrors. But human overpopulation is. "Apocalypse Soon: Today's Environmental Horrors Could Lead to a Scary Sci-Fi Future" interviews Center for Biological Diversity director Kierán Suckling. Click below to read the whole article. Here are few excerpts:
"Virtually everything that is destroying wildlife habitat and the environment is driven by overpopulation," Kierán Suckling, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, says.
"Whether it's too many people diverting water out of the Rio Grande or too much wood use leading to the logging of old-growth forests…the bottom line is there are too many people using too many resources to be able to have a healthy environment."
"It's great to focus on reducing our carbon footprint, but...unless we start reducing the footprints to begin with, we and other species are not going to survive on this planet."
"The majority of environmental groups avoid addressing overpopulation like the plague…I think that's largely because they lack the courage of their convictions… they are fearful that in saying that [we are overpopulated] they will be viewed as being anti-human somehow--as if squalor and overpopulation is somehow pro-human."
Read the Santa Fe Reporter interview and learn what the Center's doing to confront the overpopulation crisis head-on.
ORV Victory -- Dirty, Deafening Dirt-bike Race Bites Dust
Responding to protests by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, California's Eldorado National Forest has withdrawn its prior approval for five years of dirt-bike races in a key area for quiet recreation -- and imperiled species. The "Enduro" long-distance off-road races planned for the forest would have caused significant harm to the area's air, water, and soil quality; riparian habitats; and imperiled species, including the California red-legged frog and western pond turtle. But the Forest Service issued the five-year permit for the races without conducting an adequate review of their environmental impacts. Thanks to the Center's swift appeal, filed in September, the agency has pulled the permit -- and we'll make sure it doesn't ignore those impacts again.
Check out our press release and learn more about our off-road vehicles campaign.
Kaput-D: New Prairie Dog Killer "Makes About as Much Sense as Feeding Strychnine to Your Child"
PR disaster alert: If you're going to invent a new poison to kill prairie dogs, don't call it "Kaput-D." That's just asking for trouble. And that is what the would-be poisoners are getting. The Center for Biological Diversity last week formally objected to an application to the EPA to approve a new poison that brutally kills black-tailed prairie dogs by causing them to lose blood through various orifices, including eventually the skin membranes, over a period of weeks.
Prairie dogs are already so imperiled they're being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act; the last thing they need is another technology designed to exterminate them. As Center lawyer Justine Augustine explains: "Approving a poison like Kaput-D makes about as much sense as feeding strychnine to your child. No one in their right mind would do it. EPA should be withdrawing all prairie dog poisons from the market, not finding new ones."
Check out our press release.
You Did It! Senate Blocks Obama Nomination of Coal Proponent to Oversee Coal Mines
Responding to 17,000 Center for Biological Diversity members who sent emails and made phone calls, a heroic senator last week blocked Obama's nomination of Joseph Pizarchik to head the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. As a regulator of coal mining in Pennsylvania, Pizarchik has a long history of making pro-industry decisions at the expense of communities and the environment. The Senate confirmed Pizarchik in a controversial vote earlier in the month, but now an anonymous senator has gotten the message and is blocking further action on Pizarchik's approval.
Read more in Mother Jones and take action.
Media Support Mounts for Panther Protection
"You see its image often on license plates in Florida, but chances are next to nothing -- and growing slimmer by the acre -- that you'll ever see the real thing in its natural habitat." This quote, of course, refers to the Florida panther. Its source? A Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial last week lamenting the panther's peril -- and backing the Center for Biological Diversity's scientific petition to protect 3 million acres for the endangered feline.
While humans in Florida have burgeoned to 18 million, the Florida panther has declined to only about 100 cats in a single population. The cat needs room -- yes, about 3 million acres -- to grow to three large populations. Thanks to our September petition, as the editorial says, "There remains hope that Floridians generations from now, if not lucky enough to see a panther in the wild, can still be awed by the tracks it leaves in a night's crossing."
Read the Daytona Beach News-Journal piece now.
Take Action to Save Ancient Redwood Grove
Richardson Grove State Park on California's North Coast boasts a lush grove of ancient redwood trees -- key habitat for the marbled murrelet and other endangered birds -- as well as creeks that are spawning grounds for threatened salmon and steelhead. But this breathtaking gateway to North Coast redwood country could soon be forever damaged by a project that would widen the highway passing through it. Widening Highway 101 would cut through the redwoods' root systems and further jeopardize imperiled species that depend on the trees for survival -- all just so huge trucks can use the highway to speed development in northern California's remaining pristine areas.
But there's still time to save Richardson Grove. Take action now to tell state and federal agencies not to approve the ill-named "Richardson Grove Improvement Project." Then learn more about our campaign for forests.
350 Reasons to Curb Global Warming: Send Us Your Pics
Since the Center for Biological Diversity launched our new Web site 350 Reasons We Need to Get to 350 last week, we've gotten international coverage as part of the October 24 Day of Climate Action. Last Saturday, at more than 5,000 events in 180 countries, people called on their governments to reduce atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm or less to avoid climate change catastrophe. Center staff and supporters flocked to events and called loudly for change. While the Day of Action may be over, there is much more to do. In addition to the engaging profiles and photos of 350 species threatened by climate change, our 350 Reasons site has a portal where you can take action to urge President Obama to cut greenhouse gas emissions and share your personal commitment to protecting endangered species from the global climate crisis. So far, more than 1,000 of you have signed our petition, and almost 300 others have pledged your support of the 350 goal by sending us creative photos taken with your favorite warming-threatened species.
Keep taking action, and if you haven't seen the Web site supporters are calling "beautiful," "very smart," "fantastic," and "scary to realize, but a must-see", check it out now. Then read about the site in the Oregonian and watch a slide show put together by BBC News.
Photo credits: Thorne's hairstreak butterfly by Douglas Aguillard; Hermes copper butterfly (c) Douglas Aguillard; California tiger salamander (c) Gary Nafis, CaliforniaHerps.com; New York City courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Diliff under the GNU free documentation license; western pond turtle by James Bettasa, USFWS; Joseph Pizarchik; Florida panther courtesy USFWS; Richardson Grove (c) Scott Pargett; emperor penguins by Michael Van Woert, NOAA; rubber dodo award.
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