Massive Center Action to Save 404 Southeast Freshwater Species
To save one of the planet's most diverse and imperiled ecosystems, this week the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed a scientific petition requesting protection for 404 species dependent on the Southeast's troubled waterways. The 1,145-page petition will set in motion a much-needed federal review to spur Endangered Species Act protection for 48 fish, 92 mussels and snails, 92 crustaceans, 82 plants, 13 reptiles, four mammals, 15 amphibians, 55 insects, and three birds. The survival of all these species -- including the Florida sandhill crane, Alabama map turtle, and hellbender salamander -- hinges on the health of Southeast aquatic habitats, which are under attack by a long list of threats, from dams to development to global warming.
"With unparalleled diversity facing severe threats, the Southeast's rivers are the extinction capital of North America," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center. "Dams, pollution, growing demand for water, and uncertainty about future water availability with global climate change mean these 404 species need Endangered Species Act protection to have any chance at survival."
Read more in The Miami Herald and check out our new Southeast freshwater extinction crisis Web page, where you can view a species slide show and interactive range map.
Make Earth Day About Overpopulation -- as Created in 1970
When Senator Gaylord Nelson launched the first Earth Day in 1970, one of his main concerns was the growing human population. Over the past 40 years since then, the world's population has increased from 3.7 billion to 6.8 billion, with the U.S. population jumping by more than half. Yet as overpopulation has become more and more of a problem, it's become less and less often talked about -- even on Earth Day, which should be a head-on confrontation of this, the mother of all major threats to Mother Earth.
This Earth Day -- today -- the Center for Biological Diversity is changing that dynamic in a big way. We're using the opportunity to distribute a quarter of a million of our edgy, conversation-provoking Endangered Species Condoms across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico in one of the biggest overpopulation campaigns in U.S. history. Our condoms -- in packages featuring six different endangered species with funny lines like, "Wrap with care, save the polar bear" -- have already generated a huge international buzz among the public and the media. Today is our chance to make that buzz deafening -- and you can help by spreading the word.
So this Earth Day, as you're doing everything you can to combat the rampant threats to species and habitat, from climate change to overfishing to habitat destruction, remember -- and remind others -- that no matter what we do to combat those threats, we can't keep them from dooming nature if our population keeps growing beyond the Earth's capacity. And keep an eye out for some of our 250,000 condoms being distributed by thousands of volunteers at a community event, university, or pub near you.
Check out our Endangered Species Condoms Project Web site now, where you can also sign up to be a condom distributor. Then read our press release and learn more about overpopulation.
Protection on Horizon for Rocky Mountain Fishers
Due to a scientific petition by groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the northern Rocky Mountains' rarest predators -- if not the rarest predator in the region -- has passed the first milestone on the path toward protection. Last Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Rockies population of fisher, a forest hunter related to weasels, may warrant a place on the endangered species list, triggering a 12-month study of the fisher's status -- which is decidedly imperiled. In fact, while fishers once roamed throughout the dense forests of the northern Rockies and from the Pacific Northwest to the southern Sierra Nevada, the animal has become increasingly rare due to trapping and logging, and now only a small native Rockies population survives in northern Idaho and northwestern Montana.
In response to a separate Center petition, the Fish and Wildlife Service has already declared that the Rocky Mountain fisher's cousin -- the West Coast's Pacific fisher -- warrants a place on the endangered species list. Unfortunately, the Pacific fisher is still merely a "candidate" for actual protection -- so this month, we went to court to expedite federal safeguards.
Read more in the Idaho Mountain Express.
Feds Held Liable for Sierra ORV Pollution
Last week, the U.S. Forest Service suffered a major setback in its effort to shake the blame for off-road vehicles polluting lakes and streams in the Sierra Nevada's El Dorado National Forest. Extreme ORV use on California's Rubicon Trail is causing excessive silt, automotive fluids, and bacteria pollution in lakes and streams essential for native trout, yellow-legged frogs, and drinking water -- so a regional water board issued a cleanup-and-abatement order to force a stop to the damage.
But instead of confronting the problem, the Forest Service claimed it wasn't responsible because the Rubicon Trail is an "unmaintained county road"; the agency also said it doesn't need to comply with the state's Water Code. The water board shot down those claims, upholding its order for the agency to clean up its act.
Check out our press release and learn more about the Center's campaign to stop destructive off-road vehicles.
Southwest Wildlife Endangered by National Forest Rollbacks
In a potentially catastrophic move for Arizona and New Mexico's Sky Island ecosystem, the U.S. Forest Service has proposed a draft land-management plan for the Coronado National Forest that includes sweeping rollbacks for wildlife protection. Not only would the 15-year plan do away with requirements to maintain healthy wildlife populations on the forest -- it would scrap protections for northern goshawks, Mexican spotted owls, and riparian areas while offering no forest-wide standards for activities including logging, grazing, mining, and road building.
The proposed Coronado plan is an update required by the National Forest Management Act, a set of rules guiding national-forest management across the country -- which itself includes requirements to maintain healthy species populations and restrict destructive human activities. The Center for Biological Diversity went to court to successfully overturn the Bush administration's repeated attempts to do away with those requirements, and the Forest Service is now drafting new national regulations. But the proposed Coronado plan represents a first step in the agency's efforts to squash critical wildlife protections in all Arizona and New Mexico national forests. The Center will work to ensure those efforts don't pay off.
Get details in our press release and learn more about our work for forests.
Management Plan Falls Short for California National Monument
After nearly a decade of neglect by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, this month California's Serengeti -- the Carrizo Plain National Monument -- earned a 10- to 15-year plan to help the feds and their partners manage lands and wildlife. Unfortunately for those lands and wildlife, the plan fails miserably at protections from destructive livestock grazing, allowing grazing to continue despite clear science showing the harm it inflicts on habitat for rare species -- which on the Carrizo include the San Joaquin kit fox, giant kangaroo rat, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, California condor, vernal-pool species, and a suite of imperiled plants.
"The Carrizo Management Plan is a step forward," said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, "but in the face of a changing climate, preserving the Carrizo Plain ecosystem with its suite of rare and imperiled species is imperative if we are to recover these species in the wild."
Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign to save species from grazing.
Movement Protests Military Base to Save Dugong -- Take Action With Us
Tomorrow, in Washington, D.C., an unprecedented network of more than 500 organizations -- with the Center for Biological Diversity among those at the forefront -- will send a letter to President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama opposing military development in habitat for the endangered Okinawa dugong. The Network for Okinawa's letter demands the cancellation of plans to relocate an infamous U.S. military base, Futenma Air Station, to Henoko Bay -- the feeding grounds for the Okinawa dugong, a relative of the Florida manatee whose population is down to a perilous 50 individuals. Due to a lawsuit by the Center and allies, in 2008 a federal judge ruled against the construction of a new airbase in Henoko -- but in December 2009, the Obama administration announced plans to expand the area's existing airbase.
On Sunday, April 25, the Network for Okinawa and our supporters will rally in D.C. in front of the Japanese Embassy to protest military-base construction in Okinawa.
Take action to save the dugong now and read our network's letter. If you live in D.C., learn more about this weekend's Network for Okinawa rally.
Arizona Must Get All the Lead Out For Condors
Lead poisoning from ingesting lead ammunition in hunter-shot carcasses is the leading cause of death for critically endangered California condors. Yet while California has passed nonlead-ammo legislation to protect condors -- after years of hard work by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies -- the Arizona Game and Fish Department refuses to see that a lead-free requirement for hunting in the condor range is critical for the bird's recovery. In fact, in a recent Arizona Daily Sun op-ed, an Arizona Game and Fish official ludicrously declares that a requirement to eliminate lead ammunition, the leading source of condor mortality, would be "no favor" to the endangered bird. That's a position that will push condors right back to the brink of extinction.
Only about 180 California condors exist in the wild, with just 70 of those in Arizona and Utah combined -- and we can't afford a single needless condor death. Unfortunately, most Arizona and Utah condors must every year be captured and intensively treated for lead poisoning after consuming lead bullet fragments. Just two months ago, three Arizona condors died from lead poisoning.
Read the inane Game and Fish op-ed for yourself and learn more about the Center's campaigns to get the lead out and protect California condors.
Free iPhone-activism App Gaining Fame -- Download, Review It Now
Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity launched a free application that can bring endangered-species activism straight to your iPhone -- and it's rising in popularity. The app, which sends iPhone users endangered-species ringtones, opportunities to take action for wildlife, and even this very newsletter, has now been downloaded by more than 1,000 people and received rave reviews ("Inspiring!" . . . "Nifty tool for activists!" . . . "What a delight . . . !"). But hey, we know a lot more than 1,000 of you readers -- and your friends -- are iPhone users, and we'd love all of you to check out the app.
Dubbed "Wild Calls," the app uses wolf howls, whale songs, and action alerts to increase awareness of endangered species' plight and make it easier than ever for iPhone users around the world to take action for nature from wherever they happen to be. The brainchild of Center Conservation Director Peter Galvin, the app was developed by a clever team including Tom Wallace of Mobile Culture Lab and Bradley Feldman of Bradley Mobile Media, LLC.
If you haven't downloaded or reviewed Wild Calls yet, do it now -- and learn more from treehugger.com.
Thanks for Stopping Junk Mail, Saving Species -- Keep Doing It
Thanks to many of you readers who hate junk mail and love the environment, last year the Center for Biological Diversity earned almost $2,000 through our alliance with 41pounds.org -- a nonprofit that stops 80 to 95 percent of junk mail each year from ever being stamped with your address.
Every time a Center supporter goes to 41pounds.org to withdraw from the tree-destroying, resource-consuming, CO2-emitting, landfill-filling junk-mail cycle, the Center receives more than a third of the enrollment fee -- which then goes straight to saving species from extinction. That's fighting five environmental crises (at least) with one click. And the money we earned last fall and winter was more than most other groups receive all year. So thanks.
If you haven't yet visited 41pounds.org, there's no better day to do it than Earth Day -- unburden your mailbox of about 41 pounds of mail every year.
Photo credits: trispot darter (c) Bernard Kuhajda; Alabama map turtle; crowded beach courtesy iStock/mura; fisher courtesy USFWS; vehicle on Rubicon Trail; northern goshawk (c) Robin Silver; blunt-nosed leopard lizard courtesy BLM; dugong courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Julien Willem; California condor courtesy USFWS; gray wolf (c) Robin Silver; logo courtesy 41pounds.org.
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