Grazing Halted on 250,000 Acres to Protect Trout
A judge has barred livestock grazing on more than a quarter-million acres of public land in Oregon's Malheur National Forest after legal challenges by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies aimed at protecting endangered trout. The decision prohibits the Forest Service from allowing grazing on nearly 200 miles of the John Day and Malheur rivers and their tributaries -- where endangered steelhead trout live -- until federal wildlife agencies reconsider the environmental effects the current grazing plan will have on the streams. The judge also ordered the Forest Service to continue with trout-protecting measures and monitoring along another 100 miles of streams.
The 281-mile John Day River is the second-longest undammed river in the lower 48 states and provides crucial spawning, rearing and migratory habitat for the largest naturally spawning native stock of wild salmon in Oregon's Columbia River basin. Steelhead trout -- which can reach up to 35 pounds in weight -- are threatened by a long list of dangers, from grazing and nonnative fish to water withdrawals and development.
Check out our press release.
Largest Mountaintop-removal Mine Vetoed -- Thank You
After Center for Biological Diversity supporters sent in nearly 30,000 comments against mountaintop-removal coal mining, the Environmental Protection Agency this morning made a historic decision to halt the most massive mountaintop-removal mine ever proposed for Appalachia. The permit had already been approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, but the EPA -- for the first time in history -- exercised its mining-permit veto power over the agency, ruling that the destructive project would have too many water-pollution impacts, including downstream fish kills. With mountaintop-removal mining, entire tops of mountains are blasted off to access coal deposits, after which toxic mining waste is dumped into surrounding waterways. The Spruce mine would have destroyed 2,300 acres of forest and buried nearly seven miles of streams depended on by countless wildlife species -- not to mention local human communities. Coal-field residents have been fighting the Spruce mine in West Virginia since 1998.
Mountaintop-removal coal mining has already destroyed more than 500 mountains, more than 1 million acres of hardwood forest and more than 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia. "Today we applaud the EPA for following the law and the science and acting to protect the nation's wildlife and the citizens of Appalachia from the devastation of mountaintop removal," said Tierra Curry, Appalachia native and a biologist at the Center.
Read more in The New York Times, check out our press release and learn about our campaign to end mountaintop removal.
Oil-spill Commission Report Shows Need for Offshore Drilling Halt
Just hours after the national oil-spill commission released its final report on the BP disaster and the dangers of offshore drilling, the Center for Biological Diversity on Tuesday called for a stop to drilling in the Arctic and all deepwater drilling until the report's recommendations are carried out. We also called for the withdrawal of controversial Arctic leasing and deepwater drilling in the Gulf given the green light in the past month -- as the Department of the Interior scrambled to authorize projects before the anticipated report was released.
Among the dozens of critical recommendations outlined in the 398-page report were adequate preparation for an oil spill -- specifically in the Arctic, where the report said a cleanup isn't currently feasible -- as well as requirements for complete analyses of oil drilling's environmental impacts and risks, as required by law. "The commission has set the bar for safety and environmental protection," said Kierán Suckling, the Center's executive director. "Ignoring the commission puts our oceans, wildlife and economy at enormous risk of catastrophe."
Read more in our press release and check out our comprehensive Gulf Disaster website, which outlines the Center's extensive action (including eight lawsuits) to halt dangerous drilling since the BP spill.
25,000 Acres Saved for Rare Kangaroo Rat
Resolving a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and its partners, a judge on Tuesday struck down a federal attempt to slash protected "critical habitat" for the highly endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat. Originally, the species was granted 33,000-plus acres of protected habitat -- due to an earlier Center suit -- but that area was dramatically reduced in 2008 to just 7,779 acres, after the building industry filed its own suit (trying to get its hands on the species' habitat for lucrative development).
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to gut critical habitat wasn't based on sound science," said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center. "The latest court ruling gives the San Bernardino kangaroo rat a better chance at survival." Threatened by habitat loss due to urbanization, sand and gravel mining, and flood-control projects, this big-footed, long-tailed little mammal is found only in California's Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Read more in the San Bernardino Sun.
Urgent Safeguards Demanded for Miami Blue Butterfly -- Take Action
To save one of the world's most beautiful -- and closest to extinction -- invertebrates, the Center for Biological Diversity this Tuesday petitioned for emergency Endangered Species Act protection for the Miami blue butterfly. This bright blue, inch-long butterfly lives for only nine days -- but for an appalling 27 years, it's been on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "candidate list," where the agency puts species that it admits need protection but refuses to protect. Twenty-four candidates have already gone extinct while on the list, and the Miami blue was recently discovered to have disappeared from its main location in Florida's Bahia Honda State Park. Just a few scattered individuals now remain in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge, all threatened by sprawl, fire suppression, pesticides, climate change and other factors.
The Center has been working to save the Miami blue for 10 years, since we first reached an agreement with the Service to expedite protection for 29 species, including the butterfly -- on which the agency obviously didn't follow through. We've also filed suit to protect all 254 candidate species.
Check out our press release and learn more about the Miami blue butterfly and our Candidate Project. Then take action to protect all 254 candidates.
Resolve to Be a Clean Air Advocate in 2011
Do you still need a New Year's Resolution for 2011? How about resolving to become one of the Center for Biological Diversity's Clean Air Advocates? Just as the Obama administration is beginning to use the tried and true Clean Air Act to address global warming, some in Congress have resolved to make 2011 the year they gut this cornerstone environmental law that has cut dangerous pollutants, saved thousands of lives, prevented millions of illnesses and saved more than $22 trillion.
As a Clean Air Advocate, you'll counter attacks on the Clean Air Act and push the feds to use this crucial law to solve our most pressing environmental crisis. With a motivated group of like-minded folks, you'll help the Center by taking action online, putting pressure on decision-makers, meeting with your congressional representatives, talking strategy during phone briefings, spreading the word in your community and more. Let's make this year a real turning point in the ever-more-urgent fight to stop global warming.
Become a Clean Air Act Advocate today and check out our Clean Air Act Take-action Toolbox to get started. Contact Rose Braz, our climate campaign director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 436-9682 x 319 if you'd like more information.
Habitat Protection Sought for Northeast Fox Squirrel
To defend the dwindling range of North America's largest tree squirrel, the Center for Biological Diversity today filed a scientific petition to earn federally protected "critical habitat" for the endangered Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel. This heavy-bodied, fluffy-tailed, silvery-gray squirrel occupies just 10 percent of its historic range, which has been devoured and degraded by logging and development. Now the squirrel also faces global warming-caused sea-level rise, which could inundate half its occupied habitat by next century. Though the fox squirrel has been federally protected since 1967, the feds have never designated critical habitat. The squirrel is hanging on only in portions of Maryland and a tiny part of Delaware (with a reintroduced population off the coast of Virginia).
"Designating critical habitat for the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel will help ensure its survival and recovery," said the Center's Bethany Cotton. "The Obama administration should work quickly to protect the habitat of one of the few endangered species living within a two-hour drive of the halls of power in D.C."
Read more in our press release and learn about the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel.
Surveys Show Delta Fish Collapse Continues
Recent surveys in the San Francisco Bay-Delta reveal that native open-water fish species remain at alarmingly low levels, meaning California's largest estuary is still in ecological collapse. The California Department of Fish and Game's latest survey indicates that Sacramento splittail have reached record-low population levels, Delta smelt continue toward extinction, and longfin smelt continue to be endangered. Major factors in the declines are massive water diversions, toxic chemicals and pesticides, and invasive species. Powerful agricultural interests and the state of California have derailed federal measures to protect Central Valley chinook salmon and Delta smelt, instead promoting the diversion of even more water from the ravaged Delta ecosystem.
The Center for Biological Diversity is preparing to sue over a federal decision not to restore Endangered Species Act protections to the Sacramento splittail, which were improperly stripped under the Bush administration. We also have ongoing lawsuits over the rejection of our federal petition to protect longfin smelt and upgrade protections for Delta smelt.
Learn more about our campaign for San Francisco Bay Area and Delta protection.
New Law: Make a Tax-free IRA Donation by Jan. 31
Endangered plants and animals deserve a peaceful retirement too. And now they can have a chance at one, due to a new tax law.
The long-awaited IRA charitable donation tax exemption was finally signed into law last month. It allows individuals who are at least 70 1/2 to donate up to $100,000 tax-free to the Center for Biological Diversity from their traditional or Roth IRAs. It's tax-free because the donation won't count as personal income (other IRA withdrawals do). It will, however, count as part of your required minimum distribution. And because the law was created so late last year, it allows retroactive donations to be made up to Jan. 31, 2011, and still count against the 2010 tax year.
So if you love endangered species and have an extra $100,000 burning a hole in your IRA (or $10,000 for that matter, or even $1,000), you can donate it to the Center's species-protection work within the next two weeks as a tax-free 2010 gift.
Click here to learn more and make a gift by Jan. 31.
In Memoriam: Judge John Roll (1948 – 2011)
Last Saturday, U.S. District Judge John M. Roll was shot and killed in an act of violence in Tucson, Ariz., an attack primarily aimed at Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords that also killed five other people. Roll had been a federal judge since 1991 and was 63 when he died.
Roll presided over many cases brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, including a landmark decision in which he struck down the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's refusal to prepare a federal recovery plan or protect "critical habitat" for the endangered jaguar. The agency is now in the process of developing a recovery plan and mapping out essential U.S. jaguar habitat.
Said Center Executive Director Kierán Suckling: "John Roll is gone, the victim of a senseless shooting that has shaken our sense of civility and political discourse. But his life's work lives on, touching our lives and those of our children and grandchildren because of the lasting influence of his courageous judicial rulings. He upheld justice, and in so doing, made the world more just. He upheld the right of other species to thrive, and in so doing, made the world more meaningful."
Read Suckling's memorial statement remembering Judge Roll.
Photo credits: Miami blue butterfly by Jaret C. Daniels, McGuire Center for Lepidoptera Biodiversity; steelhead trout by Ken Hammond, USDA; mountaintop removal in eastern Kentucky courtesy Flickr/ilovemountains; oiled bird courtesy Flickr/marinephotobank; San Bernardino kangaroo rat (c) Lloyd Glenn Ingles, California Academy of Sciences; Miami blue butterfly by Jaret C. Daniels, McGuire Center for Lepidoptera Biodiversity; clean air courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Fir0002; Delmarva Peninisula fox squirrel by Megan Simon, Maryland Environmental Service; chinook salmon courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Josh Larios; dollar bill courtesy Wikimedia Commons; Judge John Roll courtesy Federal 9th Circuit Court.
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