Grazing Halted to Protect Yellowstone Grizzlies
Capping a successful campaign by the Center for Biological Diversity, last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture halted sheep grazing to protect vital grizzly bear habitat on about 7,500 acres of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The move stems from settlement of a lawsuit by the Center and Western Watersheds Project to stop the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station from harming endangered species by grazing thousands of sheep on more than 100,000 acres of public lands.
Besides threatening bighorn sheep with domestic-sheep disease transmission, the grazing exposes grizzlies, wolves, and lynx to deadly predator-control measures like steel leghold traps and strangulation snares, aerial gunning, and poisons. Just last year, Sheep Station-related activities were responsible for killing two entire wolf packs.
The area where grazing was halted provides important connective habitat between Yellowstone and the vast wilderness of central Idaho. While more grazing restrictions in this area are warranted to protect Yellowstone wildlife, last week's decision is a big step forward. The Center will push for more habitat protection as the Sheep Station continues to analyze the environmental impacts of its activities.
Get more from the Idaho Statesman.
Rare Desert Plant to Win 16,000 Protected Acres
Due to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, last Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect more than 16,000 acres of "critical habitat" for the endangered Lane Mountain milk vetch. The move countered a Bush-administration decision to protect zero acres for the delicate plant, despite the fact that only four populations remain on the planet -- and those populations are still declining, thanks to off-road vehicles, mining, development, desert military operations, and other threats. Unfortunately, the proposed area leaves out two of the four sites where the milk vetch is known to stretch its roots; the Center will push for more habitat protection in the final designation.
Our milk-vetch win is just one of 44 Center victories in earning new or additional habitat protections for species harmed by Bush-era political interference in endangered species decisions.
Read more in the Desert Dispatch.
Alaska Oil Drilling to Be Cancelled in Right Whale Habitat . . .
In a win for the world's most endangered whale, last week the Obama administration announced plans to cancel an offshore oil-drilling lease in Alaska's Bristol Bay, including federally protected "critical habitat" for the North Pacific right whale. The decision came partially in response to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit opposing oil and gas development in the area; the whale's critical habitat was won in 2006 after six years of legal work by the Center.
There are probably fewer than 50 North Pacific right whales in the northeast Pacific Ocean and perhaps 100 left in the northwest Pacific today. The Center earned Endangered Species Act protection for the whale as a distinct species in 2008.
Learn more about our campaign for the North Pacific right whale.
. . . But Obama Offshore Plan Disastrous for Wildlife, Climate
Unfortunately, the win for North Pacific right whales came with a big loss for other Arctic wildlife, as well as the climate -- because it was part of President Obama's ruinous new national offshore oil-drilling plan, which would expand oil leasing far beyond what was ever authorized by Bush. Prime habitat in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas would remain open under the plan, while large swaths of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast -- including habitat for the endangered North Atlantic right whale -- would be opened for the first time.
In part, last week's announcement was a backwards response to a suit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, filed over Bush's 2007-2012 offshore plan -- which the court set aside for failing to adequately assess environmental impacts. The Center is still in court to overturn the Obama administration's approval of Shell's plans to drill this summer on existing leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi.
Read more in the Anchorage Daily News.
Be One of 500,000 Signers on Our People's Petition to Get to 350
What do more than 100 groups, preeminent climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, award-winning author Barbara Kingsolver, music star Bonnie Raitt, and actor-activist Ed Begley, Jr., have in common? They've all signed the Center for Biological Diversity's People's Petition to Cap Carbon Dioxide Pollution at 350 Parts Per Million.
The Center and 350.org took an historic step in the desperate fight against climate catastrophe when we petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a national pollution cap for greenhouse gas pollution under the Clean Air Act.
Help us get 500,000 people to sign the People's Petition by clicking here now to take action and then forwarding this email to your contact list. We can't do this without you.
Wolf Hunts End in Idaho, Montana -- After Killing 500
Last week as Idaho's wolf-hunting season finally came to a close, the Center for Biological Diversity and wildlife lovers across the country mourned the killings of more than 500 imperiled northern Rockies gray wolves by hunters and the feds. The Idaho hunt, plus a similar season in Montana, followed the Interior Department's 2009 removal of those states' wolves from the federal endangered species list -- along with a green light for both states to reduce their wolf populations to just 100-150 animals in each state. Right now, the Yellowstone ecosystem has only 76 breeding individuals, while scientists say the wolves need hundreds if not thousands of breeders to avoid genetically unraveling.
"Beyond the animals needlessly shot, hunting wolves disrupts family bonds, can leave pups to starve, and contributes to the dangerous genetic isolation of wolves in Yellowstone," said the Center's Michael Robinson. "We are eager to see northern Rockies wolves restored to the endangered species list, and the results of these hunts bolster our legal claims." The Center and a dozen allies, represented by Earthjustice, are currently in court to reinstate northern Rockies wolves' Endangered Species Act protections before it's too late.
Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign for northern Rockies gray wolves.
New York Times Profiles Center
The New York Times published a great profile of the Center for Biological Diversity last week titled "Brazen Environmental Upstart Brings Legal Muscle, Nerve to Climate Debate." It covers our 20-year history, which began as a fight to protect spotted owls from old-growth logging in the Southwest and grew into protection for panthers in Florida, polar bears in Alaska, salmon in Maine, and all manner of plants, bugs, wolves, fish, birds, and whales in between. According to the Times, we're a "tiny activist group with a shoestring budget and an aggressive attitude [that] is fast becoming a rising power in environmental policy."
Read the whole story.
Tell Discovery Channel to Boot Sarah Palin
In a big one for the let's-sell-our-souls-to-improve-ratings category, Discovery Communications -- parent company of the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and The Learning Channel -- has signed a deal to pay Sarah Palin $1.2 million per episode for a new show to be called Sarah Palin's Alaska. No, that's not an April Fools' joke: Palin really will get $1.2 million per episode, and Discovery really does intend to present her as a positive image of Alaska and its wildlife.
We've seen enough of Palin's Alaska already: her war on the state's wildlife and wilderness, her opposition to protecting endangered species, including beluga whales and polar bears, her campaign to gun down Alaska's wolves by helicopter, airplane, and snow machine, her attempt to squeeze oil, timber, and housing developments out of every inch of the state, and her denial of global warming.
Asked by a reporter to square the Discovery Channel's reputation as a pro-nature, pro-conservation advocate with Palin's decidedly anti-environmental persona, John Henricks -- founder and chairman of Discovery Communications -- cryptically responded: ". . . she obviously loves her state. So this is not political." Um, yeah, nothing political about Sarah Palin. . .
Click here to send a letter asking Discovery to cancel the show before it ever airs.
The Story of Bottled Water: Watch Video
Last week, Endangered Earth Online covered a report on bottled water as the answer to the global health crisis. Uh . . . April Fools'. In case you didn't catch that.
In reality, of course, bottled water is a plague on the environment. In fact, it's so wasteful that it takes more than three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water, and bottled-water production (not counting transportation) consumes some 17 million barrels of oil a year -- enough to fuel a million cars. Eighty percent of water bottles end up in landfills or incinerators, and many of those that don't are actually shipped to India, where they're largely "downcycled" or trashed anyway. And did you know that while bottled water costs consumers 2,000 times as much as tap water, one-third of bottled water comes from the tap anyway? So much for the mountain-spring idea.
Learn more in the myth-dispelling Story of Bottled Water video, cosponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity. (And if you missed last week's April Fools' water blurb, read it now.)
Make the Center Your Green Choice
What do you like best about the Center for Biological Diversity -- our effectiveness in court, our dedication to species, or our devastating good looks? This month, let the whole world know why you support us through the 2010 Green Choice Campaign, a nonprofit rating contest hosted by nonprofit-reviewing Web site GreatNonprofits.org. All you have to do to participate is sign in and weigh in on what the Center's doing right, and we'll secure a place on the site's Top-rated Environmental Nonprofits List, winning recognition with donors, the media, and the public -- plus a chance at $500 worth of funding.
Last year, we won the Green Choice Award for "Best in the Southwest," thanks to rave reviews from Center fans like you. Just thinking about it makes us feel warm and tingly. This year, who knows how far we can go?
Review us now at GreatNonprofits.org.
Photo credits: grizzly bear (c) Robin Silver; grizzly bear courtesy USFWS; Lane Mountain milk vetch courtesy California Native Plant Society; North Pacific right whale courtesy Marine Mammal Commission; North Atlantic right whale courtesy NOAA; polar bears (c) Larry Master/MasterImages.org; gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Chris Muiden under the Creative commons attribution license; northern spotted owl courtesy USFS; Sarah Palin courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Fairbanks Mike under the Creative Commons attribution license; water bottles courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Brett Weinstein under the Creative Commons attribution license; bald eagle (c) William C. Gladish.
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