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1.6 Million Acres Protected for California Red-legged Frog

In response to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, this Tuesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set aside more than 1.6 million acres of protected "critical habitat" for the endangered California red-legged frog. The formerly abundant frog, made famous in Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," has by now lost more than 70 percent of its historic habitat due to urbanization, nonnative species, and other threats. But while the Service originally protected more than 4 million acres of red-legged frog habitat, the agency illegally slashed that designation by 90 percent after it was challenged by developers. "The new designation restores needed habitat protections for the red-legged frog and provides hope for the recovery of this unique California animal," said the Center's Endangered Species Program Director Noah Greenwald.

The frog's habitat designation is just one of 43 critical habitat victories the Center has scored in reversing politically corrupt endangered species decisions made under Bush.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

EPA Agrees to Crack Down on Ocean Acidification

Settling a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, last week the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to consider how states can curb ocean acidification -- "global warming's evil twin" -- under the Clean Water Act. Ocean acidification happens when the ocean absorbs too much CO2 from the atmosphere, which increases the acidity of the ocean and inhibits the ability of marine animals to build protective shells and skeletons -- with effects rippling up and down the ocean food chain. Nearly every marine animal studied to date has been harmed in some way by ocean acidification.

According to the settlement, the EPA will start a public process to develop guidance on how states can identify waters in their jurisdictions threatened or impaired by too much CO2 absorption -- the first step toward curbing that CO2 absorption and saving our oceans and the life they contain.

Read more in the New York Times.

Center Proposes 50 Million Acres to Save Jaguar

This Monday, the Center for Biological Diversity called on the feds to designate more than 50 million acres of protected "critical habitat" for the endangered jaguar. The habitat area we proposed for safeguards includes about 27 million acres in Arizona and 26 million in New Mexico, as well as smaller areas in California and west Texas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider the science behind our proposal and other comments before releasing its own proposed rule on jaguar habitat next January.

Jaguars were first added to the U.S. endangered species list in 1997 after a petition and Center lawsuit; as a result of another lawsuit by the Center, last year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to develop a federal jaguar recovery plan and set aside federally protected habitat. Said Center carnivore expert Michael Robinson: "The return of jaguars to their ancient habitats in the Southwest will help restore the balance of nature. Our ecosystems and other wildlife that evolved with jaguars can benefit from their homecoming, and in turn these big spotted cats need U.S. habitats to ensure their survival and recovery."

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

Rare Southeast Plant to Receive Habitat Safeguards

Responding to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, last Wednesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect 189 acres of "critical habitat" for North Carolina's endangered golden sedge. A mere eight populations of the delicate plant are known to exist, all limited to an area with a two-mile radius in southeastern North Carolina -- and all threatened by fire suppression, development, mining, wetlands drainage, highway expansion, herbicides, and more.

Work by the Center and allies led to the golden sedge's protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2002, but the plant never received federally protected habitat -- so we sued in 2007. Said Center biologist Ileene Anderson, "The only way to ensure the survival of the golden sedge is to protect the places where it lives."

Read more the Asheville Citizen-Times.

50 Groups Ask Obama to Fix Habitat Policy

Last week the Center for Biological Diversity and 49 other prominent conservation organizations wrote to the Obama administration calling for a much-needed overhaul of the way federal habitat protections are granted to endangered species across the nation. Currently, the extent of protections for set-aside "critical habitat" depends on the term "adverse modification" -- defined as a change to designated habitat that would hinder both the survival and the recovery of a protected species. This definition allows habitat alteration to thwart species' recovery and in fact lets the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service routinely approve harmful habitat destruction. A series of court decisions has rightly invalidated the definition, opening the door for a regulatory change for the better.

The letter sent by the Center and allies asks for two simple but crucial amendments to the "adverse modification" definition: Change "survival and recovery" to "survival or recovery," and clarify that adverse modification doesn't have to affect the entire area of designated critical habitat, but rather any portion of any area -- since every portion is important.

Read more in the New York Times.

Suit Launched Against $3 Billion Fossil-fuel Project

To save leatherback sea turtles, whales, rainforests, mangroves, and coral reefs in the southwest Pacific, last week the Center for Biological Diversity and allies sent a notice of intent to sue the feds over a liquefied natural gas facility in Papua New Guinea. The U.S. Export Import Bank approved financing of $3 billion to ExxonMobil and partners for the project -- the largest transaction in the bank's 75-year history -- without analyzing the facility's impacts on endangered wildlife, which could be devastating, since the project is also the largest industrial development in Papua New Guinea producing natural gas for overseas markets. The development would cut through important land and marine habitat for numerous species, including sea turtles and marine mammals, and would produce more than 3 million tons of CO2 every year in greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more in Environmental Leader.

Help Keep Asbestos-laden ORV Area Closed

To protect a suite of rare plants from churning tires, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies first filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management in 2004 over off-road vehicle use in California's Clear Creek Management Area, an ORV mecca in southwestern San Benito and western Fresno counties. In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency found the area to harbor dangerously high levels of carcinogenic airborne asbestos, spurring the Bureau to close it down. But despite the EPA's warnings that all vehicles help stir that asbestos into the air, the Bureau is now taking public comment on a plan to re-open the site to motor traffic. That would not only be dangerous to humans inhaling the carcinogenic dust -- it would also threaten the existence of the federally protected San Benito evening primrose and other plants in the area that thrive on its naturally occurring asbestos-laden soils.

The Center needs your help to tell the Bureau of Land Management to keep the Clear Creek Management Area closed to vehicles, for the sake of humans and plants alike.

Take action now and learn more about our campaign against destructive off-road vehicles.

Apocalypse Animals: Introducing a Brand-new Book . . . That Doesn't Exist

Designer Charles Orr's Web project "The Hypothetical Library" just added a brand-new hypothetical book by Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director Kierán Suckling and his wife, Center writer Lydia Millet. The nonexistent collaboration, like all the books featured on "The Hypothetical Library," consists of a book the authors have considered writing but probably never will. It's a nonfiction work called Apocalypse Animals, and bears an arresting cover (think turtle meets face of death) designed by Orr as well as a laudatory blurb from novelist Jonathan Lethem.

If it were to exist, Apocalypse Animals would tell the story of the "relationship between past and current visions and stories of the apocalypse and the psychology of climate-change denial; and of the cultural, historical and religious implications of the world's ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction." Jonathan Lethem's real blurb on the imagined book says: "Millet and Suckling's Apocalypse Animals made me want to melt down my possessions and build an ark. I recommend it to any doomed species."

Check out Apocalypse Animals at the Hypothetical Library.

Watch New Video Starring Endangered Species Condoms

The answer is: More than 80 million per year, 200,000 per day, 150 people per minute. What's the question? That's what Dave Gardener of nonprofit GrowthBusters asked people in Colorado Springs as he distributed free condoms for the Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Species Condoms Project, a campaign to raise awareness about unsustainable human population growth and how it's driving species extinct at a cataclysmic rate.

The question, of course, is: How fast are we adding people to an already overcrowded planet?

To help change the answer to that question, right now more than 5,000 volunteers are taking to the streets to distribute 100,000 of the Center's Endangered Species Condoms. And in a new video by Growth Busters, you can get a glimpse of what our courageous condom distributors are facing firsthand -- the hostility, the bafflement, the laughter and enthusiasm.

Watch the video now and visit our Endangered Species Condoms Web site.

Giant Carnivorous Plants Dine On Shrew Poo

Recent research shows that the giant montane pitcher plant of Borneo -- the largest carnivorous plant in the world -- is designed to eat not small animals, but small-animal droppings. Usually, pitcher plants use their elaborate structures to entice and capture tiny creatures like insects, which are ingested by the plants for their nitrogen and phosphorus. Borneo's humongous Nepenthes raja has long been reputed to prey on local rodents -- but after finding tree-shrew excrement inside the plants, botanists discovered that the plant is actually perfectly evolved to be a tree-shrew toilet.

We think this discovery could've been made long ago -- heck, with their fluid-filled bowls and jutting "lids," the plants even look like toilets. The wonders of nature never cease to amaze.

Get more from BBC News.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: California red-legged frog; California red-legged frog (c) Dan C. Holland; staghorn coral courtesy NOAA; jaguar courtey Wikimedia Commons/Cburnett under the Creative Commons attribution license; golden sedge courtesy USDA-NRCS plants database; Tejon Ranch (c) Andrew M. Harvey; leatherback sea turtle courtesy Flickr/rustinpc under the Creative Commons attribution license; San Benito evening primrose courtesy BLM; Apocalypse Animals cover courtesy The Hypothetical Library; endangered species condoms; giant montane pitcher plant courtesy Wikimedia Commons/NepGrower under the Creative Commons attribution license.

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