San Pedro River Bulldozing Stopped
In a victory for the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and the Southwest's last undammed river, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies settled a lawsuit last week stopping the seizure and bulldozing of a critical portion of Arizona's San Pedro River by Pinal County. The county had illegally seized the private and federal property and bulldozed a crossing through it for off-road vehicles even though it was legally protected under a conservation easement.
Check out our press release and learn more about our campaigns for the San Pedro River and southwestern willow flycatcher.
Feds Back Away From Nuclear Waste Dump Water Grab
After protests filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, last week federal officials abandoned applications for groundwater withdrawal in Nevada that would facilitate a planned nuclear-waste dump -- and pose a dire threat to the imperiled Amargosa toad in the process. The withdrawn water-rights applications (116 of them) would have supported a rail line to haul nuclear waste 90 miles from Las Vegas to the proposed dump site on Yucca Mountain, far northwest of the city. The applications sought to drain thousands of acre-feet of water per year from a groundwater basin that's already at an annual deficit, which would significantly impair spring and stream flow in Nevada's Oasis Valley -- home to the Amargosa toad, which is now down to fewer than 20 breeding populations. The Center filed a scientific petition to protect the toad under the Endangered Species Act in 2008.
Read more in the Reno Gazette Journal.
Suits Launched to Save 93 Species From Extinction
As part of our campaign to save America's 1,000 most endangered species, yesterday the Center for Biological Diversity filed four lawsuits seeking protection for 93 of them. The suits challenge the Obama administration's refusal to process scientific petitions to grant Endangered Species Act status to species across the nation, including the California golden trout, cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, and red tree vole.
In its first year in office, the Obama administration protected only two new species, the lowest first-year total of any president since Reagan. "We had hoped this administration would move far more quickly to provide protection for endangered species than Bush did, but so far this has not been the case," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. "Continued delay of protection places these 93 species in real jeopardy."
Read more in E & E News, then check out our Obama administration first-year report card and take action to tell the president to step up wildlife conservation now.
Florida Panther Cat Fight Heats Up
In a blow to one of the world's most fascinating wild felines, last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies to protect 3 million acres of habitat for the Florida panther. The situation is so dire, today we took emergency action and hauled the agency into court. With just 100-120 panthers left and deaths at a record level, there's no time to waste getting panther habitat protection back on track.
As Florida's human population explodes with no regard for wildlife's needs, endangered panthers are dying brutal and unnatural deaths at unprecedented numbers -- last year, a record 17 panthers were killed by vehicles alone in south Florida; fewer than 100 Florida panthers now survive in the wild. The Center's petition asks for three areas, identified in the panther's federal recovery plan, to be set aside as "critical habitat" and be spared from further development so the panther will have room to roam. Our lawsuit aims to make sure the critical habitat -- and the panther's recovery -- become a reality.
Read more in the Miami Herald.
Lawsuit Filed to Save Old-growth Redwoods
To save some of California's last remaining old-growth redwoods from the chainsaw, this month the Center for Biological Diversity, along with Friends of the Gualala River and Coast Action Group, sued two California agencies over a destructive logging project on the Northern California coast. The logging project, proposed by the California Department of Forestry and the California Department of Fish and Game, proposes to harvest 18 acres of old-growth trees near the Gualala River, which straddles Mendocino and Sonoma counties. These ancient trees, which are up to nine feet in diameter, represent the last nesting habitat in the area for the marbled murrelet, an extremely endangered species of coastal bird. Loss of old-growth forest is the main cause of the precipitous decline in murrelet populations, and the vast majority of old-growth redwood forest stands are now gone from California.
"There is no good reason to log these redwoods, some of which are centuries old," said Justin Augustine with the Center. "California, especially Mendocino County, is in a huge deficit when it comes to old-growth redwood, and every California agency should be working to save these trees -- not authorizing their destruction."
Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign for forests.
Endangered Jaguar(s) Spotted Just South of Arizona
One year ago today, the last known jaguar in the United States, "Macho B," was caught in an Arizona Game and Fish Department wire snare, suffered injury and stress, and was euthanized 12 days later. The U.S. Inspector General described last February 18's snaring as intentional "criminal wrongdoing." This past Monday, the Sky Island Alliance released jaguar photos snapped by a remote camera in northern Sonora, Mexico just 30 miles south of Arizona. The photos could be of a single jaguar or two individuals, and the sex of the animal(s) isn't known.
In response to 13 years of pressure, lawsuits, and organizing by the Center for Biological Diversity and others, last month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will finally designate the protected "critical habitat" that jaguars need, as well as develop a federal recovery plan. Our suit to stop Arizona Game and Fish Department from capturing or killing additional jaguars is still active.
Read more on Macho B in the Albuquerque Journal and learn about the recent jaguar photos in the Arizona Daily Star.
Center Sues Feds Over Grand Canyon Uranium Records
Last Thursday, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for illegally withholding public records relating to destructive uranium mines immediately north of Grand Canyon National Park. Some of the records relate to the Arizona 1 mine, which the Bureau said it will allow to reopen for operations despite the fact that its environmental reviews haven't been updated since 1988 -- so the Center and allies sued last November. By withholding the uranium-mining records, the Bureau has violated the Freedom of Information Act and is directly resisting our campaign to stop activities that would harm numerous endangered Grand Canyon species -- and continue uranium mining's legacy of deadly radiological contamination of land and water in the area.
After much Center involvement, last year Obama's Interior Department proposed a 20-year "mineral withdrawal" that would forbid uranium mining across nearly 1 million acres of public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon.
Get more from the Courthouse News Service.
Suit to Protect Fish, Frogs From California Fish-stocking
To save native trout, salmon, and amphibians from the impacts of millions of hatchery fish invading their home streams and lakes, last Thursday the Center for Biological Diversity sued the California Department of Fish and Game over its harmful fish-stocking program. In response to a previous Center lawsuit, last month the Department issued a report that was supposed to analyze and counteract the effects of its fish stocking -- but, as our suit shows, that report was a complete disappointment, utterly failing to protect species like Chinook salmon, mountain yellow-legged frogs, and long-toed salamanders.
"Fish and Game has missed the mark with this review and failed to consider alternatives that better meet its mission of providing fishing opportunities and conserving native wildlife," said the Center's Noah Greenwald. The agency needs to redo its report and propose measures to reduce the destructive impacts of fish elevation water dwellers.
Read more in the San Jose Mercury News.
2010: Year of the (Endangered) Tiger
Tigers are considered by the Chinese to be symbols of energy, courage, power, and good luck. But as millions of people across China rang in the Chinese New Year last Sunday, the outlook for real tigers across the globe is grim. Just a century ago numbering more than 100,000 animals, tigers are now down to fewer than 3,000 in the wild, while their habitat has shrunk by more than 90 percent. There's a good chance the species could be extinct by 2022, if things don't change things soon.
Key threats include deforestation, hunting, and the illegal trade of tigers' bones and body parts, as well as the illegal trade of tigers themselves. The United States alone holds an estimated 5,000-plus captive tigers, many of which are illegally kept as pets by private owners, sometimes in abhorrent conditions -- like a tiger found in 2003 (unbelievably) in a Harlem apartment.
Read more in Time.
Photo credits: southwestern willow flycatcher by Rick and Nora Bowers; southwestern willow flycatcher courtesy Arizona Department of Fish and Game; Amargosa toad (c) Gary Nafis; pygmy owl by Chan Robbins, USGS; Florida panther by George Gentry, USFWS; marbled murrelet chick courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Peter Halasz under the creative Commons attribution license; jaguar (c) Robin Silver; Grand Canyon by Edward McCain; long-toed salamander by Stephen Corn, USGS; tiger courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Rodrigo Gallo.
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