47,000 Acres Protected for California Tiger Salamander
In response to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week designated 47,383 acres of federally protected "critical habitat" for the California tiger salamander's Sonoma County population. The move reverses a 2005 Bush decision to set aside no critical habitat; it protects many "vernal pools" that host the salamander during winter rains as well as increasingly rare grasslands and oak woodlands.
The Center earned protection for the Sonoma County tiger salamander in 2003. This yellow-spotted, black amphibian is threatened by development, pesticides, hybridization with nonnative salamanders, disease and predation.
Read more in The Press Democrat.
Protection Sought for Declining Rattlesnake
Just days after one snake species, the Lake Erie water snake, was declared recovered thanks to the Endangered Species Act, a snake researcher and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to save another snake under the successful law. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake -- the largest rattlesnake in the world -- is native to the Southeast but dwindling fast due to habitat loss and human exploitation, especially through "rattlesnake roundups" -- grisly festivals that encourage the collection and slaughter of these imperiled snakes.
"The Endangered Species Act just saved the Lake Erie water snake -- it's the surest tool we have to save the diamondback rattlesnake too," said Collette Adkins Giese, the Center's attorney devoted to saving reptiles and amphibians.
Read more in the Sun-Sentinel.
New "Recovery" Plan Weakens Desert Tortoise Safeguards
Instead of upgrading protections for the Mojave's desert tortoise, the species' new federal recovery plan makes matters worse for the ancient, threatened reptile. Until the new plan was released last Friday, the tortoise's recovery plan -- a document laying out steps and criteria for removing the species from the endangered list -- hadn't been updated since 1994. And now, while tortoise populations continue to crash, the revised plan fails to address some of the direst threats to the species, including livestock grazing, off-road vehicles, nonnative plants, climate change and energy development.
The Center for Biological Diversity has been working to save the desert tortoise since the '90s, when we filed our first appeals to stop harmful livestock grazing in tortoise habitat. So Center biologist Ileene Anderson has good authority to compare the old and new plans: "The new recovery plan only exacerbates the ongoing problem of desert tortoise recovery, which has been the failure to implement most of the science-based recommendations in the old plan. This plan simply doesn't cut it."
Read more in The Press-Enterprise.
Protest Goes On to Save Species, Climate From Massive Pipeline
Despite public outcry opposing the infamous Keystone XL pipeline, officials appear bent on pushing through the destructive project. Last week the U.S. Department of State advanced the pipeline by releasing a "final environmental impact statement" for it. The pipeline would transport the dirtiest form of petroleum -- oil made from tar sands -- from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, risking disastrous oil spills and tearing up habitat for numerous imperiled species, from the tiny, quick-stepping piping plover to the beautiful western prairie fringed orchid.
But D.C.'s high-profile, two-week rally in front of the White House to stop the pipeline is going strong. Thousands of people are gathering to speak out, and hundreds -- including celebrated climate scientist James Hansen and actress Daryl Hannah -- are getting arrested for peaceful protest.
"The Keystone XL Pipeline is an environmental disaster in the making," said the Center for Biological Diversity's Tierra Curry. "The pipeline threatens the survival of at least 20 endangered species, risks contaminating the drinking water of millions of Americans, and spirals us further toward catastrophic climate change."
Read more in The Washington Post, where you can watch a video of Daryl Hannah (a friend of the Center) getting arrested, and join the Center in taking action by telling the president to veto the pipeline. Then, if you can, attend an upcoming public hearing on the issue and speak your piece.
It's Time to Sink Massive Nevada Water Project
Continuing an epic battle over water in Nevada, this week the Center for Biological Diversity and allies called on the Clark County Commission to withdraw its support for a massive groundwater pipeline. The Southern Nevada Water Authority's proposed pipeline project would siphon billions of gallons of water away from rural Nevada and Utah to fuel unsustainable growth in southern Nevada. In the process it would also hurt ecosystems and numerous species, including sage grouse, Bonneville cutthroat trout, mule deer and elk. In fact, the pipeline is projected to wreak havoc on vegetation across more than 200,000 acres, 300 springs and 120 miles of streams.
Listen to an in-depth interview on water issues across the Southwest with the Center's Nevada Conservation Advocate Rob Mrowka. Then learn more about our Nevada campaign.
Study: Preserving 4 Percent of Oceans Could Save Marine Mammals as Human Population Skyrockets
A new study coauthored by renowned population researcher Dr. Paul Ehrlich predicts that the preservation of just 4 percent of the planet's oceans would make the difference for the survival of marine mammals across the globe. Researchers at Stanford University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico found that preserving nine specific "hotbed" areas would benefit 84 percent of marine mammal species. After listing a number of human-caused threats to these areas, Dr. Ehrlich ominously notes, "The next 2 billion people we're going to add to the planet are going to do much more damage to the ocean than the previous 2 billion did."
About two months from now, the world population will reach 7 billion. The Center for Biological Diversity and our supporters will raise awareness of this global benchmark and its connection to species extinction through major action campaigns and public-education projects like the planned billboard ad in New York's Times Square. Stay tuned for more from the Center on our Big Apple ad and the 7 billion milestone.
Read an article on the study in Science Daily.
Suit Challenges Grazing on Quarter-million Arizona Acres
The Center for Biological Diversity is defending nearly 225,000 acres of national forest lands in Arizona from destruction by livestock. Last week we filed a lawsuit challenging grazing on 18 allotments in five national forests -- the Coconino, Coronado, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto -- that was approved by federal officials without adequate analysis of just how much environmental destruction might occur because of it. Our suit says none of the grazing decisions met the criteria for waiving in-depth environmental analysis.
Read more in our press release and learn about our campaign against destructive grazing.
Click Here to Download New, Free Species Finder Android App
Click here to download the Center for Biological Diversity's "Species Finder," the new free app for Android mobile phones that allows users to find endangered species where they are -- or anywhere else in the United States. The app is the Center's latest creative media project aimed at connecting people with endangered species and adding new voices to our fight to keep them from extinction.
We've already had wild success with our other projects –- from our Rare Earthtones ringtones, Endangered Species Condoms and iPhone app to our award-winning polar bear PSA and jumbo-screen ads in New York City's Times Square.
Download the Species Finder app today and get more from Cronkite News Service and Treehugger.com. And if you haven't already, download endangered species ringtones, see our iPhone app, check out our Endangered Species Condoms and watch our latest Times Square ad.
Wild & Weird: Echolocation Elocution
If you're a birdwatcher, maybe you can do a pretty good imitation of a mourning dove's coo, the chilling call of a loon or even the tu-whit, tu-whit of a loggerhead shrike.
But can you speak bat? No way -- because bats hunt, navigate and communicate through echolocation, sending out high-frequency ultrasounds that bounce off their surroundings. Cool, right?
It gets cooler. According to a recent study in Australia, bats' style of echolocation actually depends on their location -- that is, they develop "accents" specific to where they live, a phenomenon long suspected but never before proven in the field. Information on regional accents can help identify, assess and protect different bat species. (But it's a shame echolocation is too high-pitched for the human ear -- we'd like to know if Southern bats have a drawl or Texas bats have a twang.)
Read more in The Telegraph.
Photo credits: California tiger salamander (c) Gary Nafis, CaliforniaHerps.com; California tiger salamander by John Cleckler, USFWS; eastern diamondback rattlesnake courtesy Flickr Commons/Sophro; desert tortoise courtesy Flickr Commons/sandman; piping plover (c) Syndey Maddock; sage grouse (c) Carol Davis; Hawaiian monk seal courtesy USFWS; cattle grazing courtesy BLM; Species Finder app; bat courtesy Flickr/Sethtex.
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