Nevada Pipeline Victory Upheld
In January, the Center for Biological Diversity -- as part of the Great Basin Water Network -- won a big victory in Nevada when the state's supreme court overturned dozens of water-rights applications to pump groundwater nearly 300 miles for Las Vegas sprawl. In an attempt to fight back for the pipeline, Governor Jim Gibbons instructed the Nevada legislature to change state law to retroactively legalize water awards made since 1947 -- rendering our victory moot. Fortunately, this week the legislature announced it won't consider the governor's underhanded tactics on behalf of the Southern Nevada Water Authority -- which is behind the water-pumping project. The Center and many allies wrote dozens of emails and made dozens of calls to the legislature to make sure lawmakers knew the right thing to do -- and they did it.
The massive water grab would cause widespread desertification and would probably mean the end for imperiled desert springsnails and fish like the endangered Moapa dace.
Read more in this Chance of Rain blog.
Carbon Credits for Clearcuts Policy Meets Demise
Responding to public outcry and detailed analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Air Resources Board last week voted to rescind its harmful "Forest Project Protocol." The policy would have allowed forest landowners (clearcutters included) to sell carbon credits to air polluters so those polluters could go on polluting instead of cutting their greenhouse gas emissions. Not only did the Board vote to withdraw the policy; it also committed to a review of environmental impacts to forests and the climate.
"Forest clearcutting is a threat to ecosystems, water, and wildlife habitat, and is no solution for climate change," said the Center's Brian Nowicki. "To avert the worst impacts of climate change, we need to dramatically reduce emissions now -- not give timber companies more reasons to keep liquidating America's forests."
Check out our press release and learn more about clearcutting and climate change.
Endangered Fish Defended From Utah Nuke Plant
To stop the drying-up of habitat for four of Utah's most imperiled fish, this Monday the Center for Biological Diversity submitted comments opposing applications to pump 53,000 acre-feet of water from the Green River to support a planned nuclear power plant. The Green River's water is already over-allocated and threatened by regional drying from global warming. It's the linchpin to recovering the humpback chub, razorback and bonytail suckers, and Colorado pikeminnow throughout the entire upper Colorado River basin -- and the depletions, if approved, would undermine river flows critical to the fishes' recovery.
"Taking more water from the river would upend the entire regional recovery program for these endangered fish," said Taylor McKinnon of the Center. "That would be unacceptable."
Learn more about the razorback sucker and our campaign for rivers.
Georgia Attorney General Asked to Investigate Tortoise, Rattlesnake Killing
To save rattlesnakes, tortoises, and other threatened wildlife, this Wednesday the Center for Biological Diversity and allies wrote a letter asking Georgia's attorney general to investigate the extent of gassing and destruction of gopher-tortoise burrows to collect snakes for rattlesnake roundups. Hunters commonly catch snakes for these rattlesnake-killing contests by pouring gasoline or ammonia into tortoise burrows, where snakes may hide, or by digging out the burrows -- sickening or killing the animals inside and making the burrows unusable for tortoises and hundreds of other wildlife species. Pouring gasoline in to burrows can also contaminate groundwater, and it's illegal. But four Georgia men were recently caught hunting snakes in tortoise burrows, and another rattlesnake roundup is planned for March 13 and 14.
In January, the Center and allies called on Georgia's governor to amend state law to ban rattlesnake roundups, replacing them with festivals that celebrate wildlife.
Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign to outlaw rattlesnake roundups.
Military Plans Threaten People, Beauty of Guam -- Take Action
Last month, the Center for Biological Diversity submitted comments to the Navy on plans to more than double the military presence on the island of Guam -- threatening imperiled species and islanders' well-being at the same time. The military buildup would send 24,000 military personnel to the island by 2020, increasing Guam's population by 14 percent in the long term and by 45 percent during the peak of the buildup. Plans include a proposal for dredging Guam's most popular diving destination that would devastate coral reefs, the largest mangrove forest under U.S. jurisdiction, and imperiled species like the scalloped hammerhead shark. Making matters worse, this buildup is in addition to the U.S. military's plan to construct a massive military air base off Okinawa, Japan -- ruining some of the last habitat for the highly endangered Okinawa dugong, cousin to the manatee. The Center has been fighting to protect the dugong since 2003.
Said Center Conservation Director Peter Galvin: "The military's so-called 'transformation in the Pacific' will result in massive environmental destruction in Guam and increase environmental destruction in Okinawa. Destroying the environmental and social well-being of an area, even in the name of 'national or global security,' is itself like actively waging warfare against nature and human communities. . . . The U.S. Military Transformation in the Pacific Program will not solve our community-relations problem in Okinawa and will just exacerbate existing ones in Guam, all the while destroying critical environmental areas in both places."
Read more in the Los Angeles Times and take action now to save Guam wildlife and defend the dugong.
400 Bighorn Die of Pneumonia Across West
This winter, pneumonia outbreaks have killed nearly 400 bighorn sheep across four states -- Nevada, Montana, Utah, and Washington -- and the death toll is expected to rise. While the disease has been known to show up sporadically in wild herds, it's not normal to experience so many outbreaks in so many states, and at least one wildlife official is calling the situation "unprecedented." The source of these outbreaks hasn't yet been identified, but domestic sheep grazing has been known to spread disease to bighorn in the past -- and in fact, it's historically been one of the worst threats to bighorns throughout the West.
"It's heartbreaking to see the loss of some of the few remaining healthy bighorn herds in these states," said Lisa Belenky, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "The bighorn has been faced with decreasing habitat availability and increasing threats throughout its range." The Center is working hard on the landscape level to keep bighorn habitat intact.
Read more in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Puerto Rican Crested Toad Hops Onto Free Ringtones Site
As download numbers soar toward 400,000 at RareEarthtones.org -- the Center for Biological Diversity's endangered-species ringtones Web site -- we're still adding new animal calls as ringtones you can download for free. The latest newcomer to the site is the Puerto Rican crested toad, a pebbly-skinned, golden-eyed amphibian that's the only toad native to Puerto Rico. Trust us: This toad's warbly call is unlike anything you've heard before -- and used as a ringtone, it's the perfect tool to jumpstart a conversation about wildlife conservation. The Puerto Rican crested toad is in danger of extinction from rapidly dwindling habitat as well as introduced species competing for resources and gobbling it up.
Check out the call of the Puerto Rican crested toad -- and the twitters, songs, and roars of nearly 100 other rare and amazing species -- at www.RareEarthtones.org.
Earth's Life-support Systems: Five Down, Four to Save
The needs and wants of 6.8 billion humans are stretching our planet's ability to sustain life as we know it. But what's the breaking point? A team of 28 of the world's most prestigious environmental and earth-systems scientists has attempted to answer that question for nine identified "planetary life-support systems" vital for human survival -- and in jeopardy (or already lost) due to nine human-caused threats, including climate change, ocean acidification, species extinction, and chemical pollution. For three of the threats, the team concluded, we've already far exceeded the "safety" boundary; for three, we'll exceed it very soon on our current path; and for one, we've taken big strides but are still in danger. The scientists were unable to quantify a boundary for two threats, but it seems clear we've crossed the line with those, too.
The two systems in direst straits are biodiversity and the climate. The prognosis? The systems that have supported life for billions of years are in need of life support -- now.
Read more in New Scientist.
Watch Video: Jaguars in Peril
Due to work by the Center for Biological Diversity, the jaguar in the United States was placed on the endangered species list in 1997. But, as the Center's Randy Serraglio says in a brand-new video by This American Land, "There was never any focus on the recovery of the animal" -- specifically, the jaguar never received protected critical habitat or the recovery plan it needs to get off the endangered list. As a result, jaguars have little or no presence north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the last known wild U.S. jaguar having been tragically killed in a bungled snaring effort in 2009. Responding to demands by the Center and allies, the Obama administration has announced it will finally protect U.S. jaguar habitat and develop a recovery plan -- but the jaguar has a long way to go, and the U.S.-Mexico border wall is a formidable new obstacle.
The recent piece by This American Land explains the jaguar's plight using compelling jaguar footage -- some beautiful, some shocking -- as well as interviews with jaguar advocates, including the Center's Serraglio. This American Land is a project of the nonprofit Environment News Trust.
Watch the video now and learn more about the Center's campaign to save the jaguar.
Gear Up for Jaguar Bike-a-thon in Arizona
In other jaguar news, this Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Macho B, the last known U.S. jaguar. But it's not too late to bring more jaguars back to the United States and help them recover here -- and the Center for Biological Diversity is doing everything we can to help, in and out of court. In fact, this spring we're mounting our bikes to publicize the jaguar's plight.
The Jaguar Bike-a-thon, a project of the Jaguar Habitat Campaign, will be a 300-mile bike ride in southern Arizona lasting from April 15 to Earth Day, April 22. Riders can sign up for the whole ride or any one of the eight legs. En route, riders and supporters will spread the word about jaguar conservation and circulate a jaguar statement of support to be delivered to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
People from all over the country are signing up for the ride -- and you can, too. Get the details on our Events Web page, where you can also find out how to sign the jaguar statement of support.
Photo credits: Puerto Rican crested toad by Josh More, www.starmind.org; Moapa dace courtesy USFWS; logging courtesy WikimediaCommons_Alindon; razorback sucker by Mark Fuller, USFWS; eastern diamondback rattlesnake courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Tad Arensmeier; Guam coral by David Burdick, NOAA; bighorn Sheep courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Alan D. Wilson, naturespicsonline.com; Puerto Rican crested toad by Josh More, www.starmind.org; Earth courtesy NASA; jaguar courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Silvio Tanaka; bicyclists courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Kriplozoik. Wikimedia Commons photos are licensed under the Creative Commons attribution license.
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