Sea Turtles Saved From Burning Alive in Gulf -- Thanks for Your Help
Sea turtles threatened by a gruesome death from intentionally set fires in the Gulf finally caught a break last week due to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and our allies -- and after we delivered tens of thousands of petitions, signed by you supporters, to BP. Just hours before the start of an emergency court hearing on Friday, BP and the U.S. Coast Guard agreed to take steps to rescue sea turtles before they're burned alive as part of operations to burn off surface oil slicks. The oil giant and Coast Guard will develop protocols to protect the turtles, including allowing independent observers to inspect the area before the corralled oil slicks are set aflame and pluck out those in harm's way.
The settlement was a bright spot for what's been a disastrous episode for sea turtles -- including the endangered Kemp's ridley -- that live in the Gulf. So far, more than 440 sea turtles have been found dead in the area since the oil began to gush in April. Many more have likely been injured or killed but not found.
Our thanks goes out to the supporters who've signed our turtle petition -- all 35,000-plus of you and counting. It means so much to be able to rely on you when it's needed most for sea turtles and other species being devastated by this disaster.
Read more in The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and Businessweek.
Wolf Kill Halted in Oregon
In response to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, federal wildlife control agents last Friday temporarily called off plans to kill two endangered gray wolves in Oregon. Our lawsuit challenged the legality of the state-sponsored killing, especially because there are only 14 known wolves in the entire state. The wolves are being targeted because six cattle were killed in eastern Oregon in late May. The lethal action was ordered even though the depredations happened more than a month ago in an area where livestock carcasses -- always a draw for hungry predators -- were left out on ranch lands. During the month-long delay we won, the court will consider whether a "preliminary injunction" should be granted, which would give the wolves a longer reprieve.
The killing is being conducted under the auspices of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf-management plan. Last week, the Center submitted comments in a review of this plan, arguing that it needs to be fixed to ensure that ranchers take all measures to avoid attracting wolves, as well as to increase recovery goals for wolves in Oregon above the paltry four wolves now called for in the plan.
Read more in The Seattle Times.
Feds Sued Over Ocean Noise Harming Gulf Marine Mammals
Battling yet another threat inflicted on Gulf of Mexico marine life by the oil and gas industry, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies last Wednesday sued the feds over the use of painfully noisy seismic surveys. The powerful surveys, approved by the former Minerals Management Service without proper environmental analysis, can disrupt the feeding, breeding and basic communication of whales, dolphins and other marine mammals. Still, dozens of harmful seismic surveys are carried out each year throughout the Gulf's Outer Continental Shelf -- surveys using some of the loudest underwater sounds ever generated by humans to explore for oil and gas beneath the ocean floor.
Underwater noise can lead to permanent or temporary hearing loss, internal hemorrhaging, stranding and death in marine mammals. "Throughout the year, whales are disturbed and harmed by blasts nearly as loud as explosives from constant seismic surveys exploring for oil in the Gulf," said Center Oceans Director Miyoko Sakashita. "Just as with drilling, the federal government rubberstamps permits for these disruptive surveys and turns a blind eye to the impacts on whales and other wildlife."
Read more in our press release and learn more about our campaign against ocean noise.
Hybrid Tree Experiment Challenged in Seven States
The South knows a thing or two about the nightmare of nonnative species. (Kudzu, anyone?) So when the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved open-air field tests of a genetically engineered eucalyptus hybrid in seven southern states, the Center for Biological Diversity and our allies jumped into the fray. The groups sued the Department last week for approving a planting permit -- with minimal environmental review -- for a company called ArborGen. The permit allows the experimental planting and flowering of a quarter-million genetically engineered hybrid trees on 28 secret sites in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas. The Department of Agriculture is also considering a petition by ArborGen to allow unlimited, unregulated commercial planting of the "cold-tolerant" hybrid, which ArborGen hopes will become widely used for pulp and biomass.
The scary truth: Eucalyptus trees aren't native to the United States, and they're known to become invasive, displacing native plants and wildlife as well as increasing fire risk. Plus, genetically engineered eucalyptus plantations would use more than twice the water of pine plantations in a region already suffering from a depleted water supply. And the Government Accountability Office and USDA inspector general have both sharply criticized the USDA's previous management of genetically engineered organism field tests. "In refusing to prepare a detailed environmental review, the Department of Agriculture ignored serious risks before permitting this action," said Marc Fink, the Center attorney in the case.
Read more in Businessweek.
Snails, Plants, 4,400 Acres Defended From Copper Mine
The Center for Biological Diversity has filed scientific petitions to protect two snails and two plants whose survival is threatened by plans for a sprawling mile-wide copper mine in southern Arizona. The controversial Rosemont Copper Mine is proposed for the Santa Rita Mountains in the biodiversity-rich "Sky Islands" region. It would destroy at least 4,400 acres of habitat (including more than 3,300 acres of national forest) with its mining waste and jeopardize the very existence of the Rosemont talus snail -- a dry-land-dwelling invertebrate found nowhere else but the site of the proposed mine. It likewise poses big problems for the Sonoran talus snail, which is found in just a few other areas besides the Rosemont site and is already in danger from smuggling, Border Patrol activities and real-estate development. The Rosemont Mine also threatens to two rare plants: the Bartram stonecrop and beardless chinch weed. The Center sought protections for both of those yesterday.
Said the Center's Tierra Curry, who authored our snail and plant petitions: "The Rosemont Mine is a disaster waiting to happen that will permanently destroy public land crucial to Arizona wildlife, clean water, tourism and recreation." Besides harboring the snails and plants we just petitioned to protect, the Rosemont site provides crucial habitat for the jaguar, the Chiricahua leopard frog and many other rare species.
Read more in the Sierra Vista Herald and check out our brand-new webpage on conserving Sky Island species and habitat.
760 Acres at Risk From Mountaintop Removal -- Take Action
After Center for Biological Diversity supporters submitted almost 4,000 comments against mountaintop-removal mining last year, the Environmental Protection Agency announced this spring it would take "unprecedented steps" to halt the devastating practice. Yet last week, without public notice, the agency approved a preliminary permit to fill three new valleys with mining waste from the Pine Creek Coal Mine in West Virginia's Logan County. If the permit moves forward, Arch Coal will blow up 760 acres of forest and use the new waste to permanently fill in nearly three miles of stream, killing all life there and poisoning the downstream water for wildlife and humans alike. Mountaintop-removal mining -- which literally blasts off entire mountain peaks, dumping the waste into surrounding valleys -- has already destroyed 500 mountains and 2,000 miles of streams across Appalachia.
Your comments can make a difference, and the EPA needs to hear them now. Tell the agency to stop the destruction of Pine Creek -- and while they're at it, end all mountaintop removal. Then learn more about this appalling form of mining.
Rare Invertebrates' Habitat to Be Protected From Big Oil
In response to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed new "critical habitat" protections for three endangered snails and one freshwater shrimp at New Mexico's Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge and in western Texas. A previous suit by the Center prompted the Service to protect 397 acres for the Pecos assiminea snail in 2002, but the agency failed to include any sites within the refuge or to protect a single acre for three other imperiled aquatic invertebrates in the area: the Roswell springsnail, Koster's springsnail and Noel's amphipod. The current proposal would newly protect 118 acres for all four species, which are largely jeopardized by oil and gas drilling in and near the refuge that threatens to contaminate the clean water they depend on. In 1994, Yates Petroleum spilled brine in the refuge that contained a chlorine content 20 times state standards -- a deadly addition to the sensitive creatures' watery habitat.
If the critical habitat proposal is finalized, it will also entail protections across a 12,585-acre watershed just upstream of the protected Bitter Lake Refuge area. "The newly proposed critical habitat areas include all wetlands where these rare animals are still found," said Michael Robinson of the Center. "Critical habitat will help keep these waters clean and these unique animals alive."
Get more from KOB.com.
Exchanging Carbon for Condoms
Optimum Population Trust, a British nonprofit working on overpopulation, announced last week the implementation of a novel new way of reducing carbon emissions and stabilizing unsustainable human population growth at the same time. Through a program called PopOffsets, individuals and companies can offset their carbon emissions by funding the massive unmet need for family planning in the world and promoting opportunities for women to control their own fertility. The first projects to benefit are educational and condom-distribution campaigns in the U.K. and Madagascar.
Organizers of the program call it a "win-win" and point out that lowering the number of carbon emitters in developed nations is a very cost-effective way of reducing climate-disrupting greenhouse gases. They also tout research showing that slowing the pace of population growth in developing nations contributes to national development and improves the lives of the people who live there.
Read more in BusinessGreen and learn about the Center for Biological Diversity's own novel way of helping the planet while fighting unsustainable population growth: our Endangered Species Condoms Project.
Nine Young Condors Will Soon Fly Free -- In Need of Lead-free Home
In case you didn't know, California condors don't only come from California -- in fact, the Oregon Zoo is lending a big hand in boosting the endangered bird's wild populations (whose current range includes California, Arizona and Utah). Thanks to the zoo's condor captive-breeding program, it's now harboring three new condor chicks -- just hatched this spring -- as they build strength before they fledge into the pens their parents occupy. Meanwhile, six juvenile condors hatched at the zoo are on their way to pre-release pens in California and Arizona, where they'll be under the watch of a mentor bird -- and kept "on a pretty tight leash" while they gain the skills needed for survival in the wild.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest threats to condors' survival in the wild -- lead poisoning -- can't be countered with any amount of preparation by parents or mentor birds. Condors frequently scavenge carcasses shot with lead bullets or shot and consume lead fragments, causing the birds to often get sick and die -- and much of the wild population suffers from the chronic sublethal effects of lead poisoning. Three condors in Arizona have already died from lead poisoning in Arizona this year, and a chick in California last month underwent intensive care because of lead poisoning. For the sake of the whole California condor species -- plus countless other creatures exposed to lead from bullets, including humans -- the Center for Biological Diversity is leading a campaign to require nonlead bullets for hunting nationwide. We've already won the requirement in the condor's California range.
Read more in The Oregonian and learn about the Center's Get the Lead Out Campaign.
Stop Junk Mail, Save Species
Do you cringe -- or even moan, wail or scream -- every time you open your mailbox to a cascade of coupons, catalogues and credit-card offers? You're not alone: The average adult receives 41 pounds of postal junk mail every single year, and most of us don't like it, whether we're thinking about the enormous amounts of energy and resources it wastes or we're just plain annoyed.
Luckily, the Center for Biological Diversity is in on a great way to you unburden your mailbox for a whole year: Just make a quick trip to 41pounds.org, a nonprofit that stops 80 to 95 percent of junk mail from ever being stamped with your address. Now, when you enlist the helpful services of 41pounds, you can designate more than a third of the fee to go to the Center -- so you'll be saving trees, reducing greenhouse gases and protecting species at the same time.
Reclaim your mailbox with the Center and 41pounds.org today.
Photo credits: Kemp's ridley sea turtle courtesy NOAA; gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Chris Muiden; sperm whale flukes in Gulf of Mexico courtesy NMFS; eucalyptus tree courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Ethel Aardvark; Bartram stonecrop (c) Alan Cressler; West Virginia valley fill (c) Denny Tyler; hydrobiidae snail courtesy USGS; endangered species condoms; California condor; logo courtesy 41pounds.org.
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