Landmark Agreement Pushes 757 Species Toward Protection
The future for hundreds of imperiled plants and animals in the United States just got much brighter.
Capping a decade-long campaign to save 1,000 of America's most endangered, least protected species, the Center for Biological Diversity on Tuesday struck an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that, combined with another agreement, will lead to 757 species being reviewed for Endangered Species Act protection. The Center wrote scientific listing petitions and/or filed litigation for all of the 757 species. Tuesday's agreement sets legally binding deadlines between now and 2018 for the government to make protection decisions on species in all 50 states.
This major victory means many of the nation's most imperiled species will be fast-tracked for the protection they desperately need. Among them are the walrus, wolverine, Mexican gray wolf, New England cottontail rabbit, California golden trout and Miami blue butterfly, as well as 403 river-dependent species in the Southeast, 42 Great Basin springsnails and 32 Pacific Northwest mollusks.
The Center, with the help of supporters and activists, has worked intensively for the past decade to get these species to this point. It's a historic moment worth celebrating.
Watch a special video message from our executive director and check out our new website devoted to the win, where you can see an interactive map featuring all 757 species. Then read more in The Huffington Post.
Rare Mouse Wins Back Protections in Wyoming
In response to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, a judge last week restored Endangered Species Act protection to the imperiled Preble's meadow jumping mouse in Wyoming. The furry, long-tailed rodent is only found in parts of Colorado and Wyoming and was first federally protected in 1998. Ten years later, though, it was stripped of safeguards in Wyoming when the feds used a Bush-era policy that illegally interpreted the Act, dubiously dictating that a species could be protected in one part of its range and not another. The Center helped get that policy repealed.
The Preble's meadow jumping mouse is threatened in Colorado and Wyoming by agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial development that destroys and degrades its dwindling streamside habitat.
Read more in The Billings Gazette.
Damaging Dam Dismissed in Southern California
Federal regulators have pulled the plug on plans for a controversial hydroelectric dam in Southern California's Cleveland National Forest. The Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage (or LEAPS) project would have generated electricity from water pumped from Lake Elsinore to a dam on the crest of the Santa Ana Mountains -- harming wildlife, reducing water quality, ruining local rural character and risking wildfire in the process. After years of steady opposition to the project from the Center for Biological Diversity and partners -- not to mention financial and regulatory problems and even a grand jury investigation -- the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has dismissed it. Dam proponents have 30 days to challenge the decision.
"This dam project was an ecological and economic catastrophe waiting to happen," said the Center's Jonathan Evans. "Hopefully today's decision dismissing the application will be the final nail in its coffin."
Read more in our press release.
Victory for Northwest Old-growth Forests
After almost a decade of opposition and litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, this month we finalized an important agreement that will help protect endangered wildlife and sensitive old forest habitat across the Pacific Northwest.
The "Survey and Manage" rule, a critical provision of the federal plan protecting Northwest forests, requires periodic field surveys to determine whether rare species are present in the forests before logging or other habitat-disturbing projects can move forward. When the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management tried to eliminate the rule -- risking the well-being of the Pacific fisher, dozens of rare snails and slugs, the marbled murrelet and many other old-growth species -- the Center and friends went to court to save it. Our agreement, which keeps the rule in place and restores the red tree vole to the list of species it covers, is a big win for forest restoration and old-growth species protection.
Get more from KTVL.com.
Cleanup Will Fight Lead Poisoning of 10,000 Albatross Chicks
Midway Atoll, a small group of tiny islands in the North Pacific, was once an important U.S. naval base -- but it's now a wildlife refuge, as well as the world's most important breeding site for the Laysan albatross. Unfortunately, many seabirds there -- including the albatross, the highly endangered Laysan duck and 17 other seabird species -- don't get much refuge at all: Decaying military buildings are shedding toxic lead-paint chips that contaminate bird habitat and pose a particular danger to albatross chicks. After ingesting the chips, many chicks develop a painful nervous-system condition called "droopwing," which leaves them unable to hold up their wings, leading to a slow death. Lead poisoning kills up to 10,000 baby Laysan albatrosses on Midway each year.
After the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue over the issue last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finally announced it will begin cleaning up the toxic lead-based paint chips at Midway's federal facilities. Still, there's a long way to go before albatross chicks are completely safe, says Center biologist Shaye Wolf. But we'll continue our push to clean up all traces of toxic lead on the atoll for the sake of the millions of sensitive seabirds that call it home.
Read more in our press release.
Center Attorney in the Spotlight: Saving Bluefin Tuna
Center for Biological Diversity Staff Attorney Catherine Kilduff has been leading the fight to save the rare, amazing bluefin tuna from extinction through the Center's popular Bluefin Boycott campaign -- all the while using her legal smarts to help us defend endangered sea turtles, black abalone and even oysters from the numerous threats looming over the world's oceans. But as at home as she is fighting for marine species in court, Catherine can't stay away from the ocean itself for long -- especially the waters along Vineyard Haven, Mass., where she spent childhood summers feeding crabs and falling in love with the seaside and the life it harbored.
On a recent visit to Vineyard Haven with her family, Catherine's passion for ocean life hooked the attention of the local newspaper, which has devoted an article to profiling her -- and the Center's -- fight to save our seas.
Read about our "Lady of the Seas" in the Vineyard Gazette.
Big Sur River, Rare Steelhead at Risk
California's Big Sur River is in big trouble. For decades, a local "hobby" ranch (owned by a billionaire railroad magnate) has been pumping water from the iconic waterway without a permit. Now it's seeking that permit to legalize the pumping -- despite the severe harm pumping is doing to habitat and wildlife, including the magnificent steelhead trout, a large, olive-colored fish facing dangerous population collapse. The Big Sur almost went dry in 2007, and the steelhead can't afford further depletion of the river, one of its last viable runs. But to irrigate a billionaire's cattle pasture, the ranch is now requesting permission to withdraw more than 1,600 acre-feet of Big Sur water annually: more than half a billion gallons. That's more than usually flows into the river in the summer.
The Center for Biological Diversity attended California Water Board hearings in June and July to fight the permit. Staff Attorney Adam Lazar defended the environment and exposed the bad math behind the ranch's request, which could completely drain the river in the near future. The water board will make a decision on the permit in the fall -- and the Center won't let it leave the iconic Big Sur or its resident rare trout high and dry.
Read more in The Carmel Pine Cone and learn about our campaign for the central California coast steelhead trout.
Stop Junk Mail, Save Species
Ah, summer -- vacation season, the ideal time to get away from it all. We hope you have plans this month to escape to an exotic locale, far from the polluting traffic jams and mind-numbing consumerism that surrounds us on the average day.
Unfortunately, when you get back from vacation, your mailbox will be more stuffed than ever with wasteful, resource-consuming, climate change-fueling junk mail. Ugh.
But there's a solution: Unburden your mailbox for a whole year with a quick trip to 41pounds.org. This nonprofit promises to stop 80 percent to 95 percent of junk mail from ever being stamped with your address –- and by signing up, you can help save species at the same time. Because now when you use 41pounds.org, you can designate more than a third of the fee to go to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Reclaim your mailbox with the Center and 41pounds.org today.
Wild & Weird: Punk Macaque Monkeys Around With Camera
A traveling wildlife photographer scored an awesome photo shoot in Indonesia this month -- but he didn't take the photos. His subject did.
Over three days in a national park, photographer David Slater tracked a small pack of crested black macaques -- an inquisitive endangered species whose punk hairdo and cool red eyes give it unique photographic appeal. At one point after Slater set up his tripod and turned his back, the macaques swooped in. One monkey snapped pictures of himself, his peers, his habitat and even Slater. "He must have taken hundreds of pictures before I got my camera back," Slater said.
Apparently, the photos are so amazing (and hilarious) that some folks on Twitter have called them a hoax. But they're no monkey business.
Read more in The Guardian and check out some of the funniest photos.
Photo credits: 'i'iwi (c) Tom A. Ranker; American wolverine by Gerald and Buff Corsi (c) California Academy of Sciences; Preble's meadow jumping mouse courtesy USFWS; Cleveland National Forest courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Althenpal; Pacific fisher courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Game; albatross chick with droopwing (c) Myra Finkelstein; Atlantic bluefin tuna (c) Paul Colley; steelhead trout courtesy NPS; logo courtesy 41pounds.org; crested black macaque by crested black macaque.
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