Subject: FW: SW Biodiversity Alert

Subject: SW Biodiversity Alert

**** **** Southwest Biodiversity Alert **** ****

Southwest Center for Biological Diversity

Fighting "Logging without Laws" in the Chiricahua Mtns

On December 27, 1995 the Southwest Center for Biological
Diversity filed suit in federal court to stop the Rustler "salvage
sale" in the Chiricahua Mountains, well known birder's mecca
in southeastern Arizona. This sale is the first in the Southwest
under the "logging without laws" rider under the Rescission Act.
The Center claims the Coronado National Forest has violated the
Rescissions Act and the Administrative Procedures Act through
issuance of a Categorical Exclusion. The Rescission Act states
that, at a minimum,  a combination Environmental Assessment
(under NEPA) / Biological Evaluation (under the ESA) must be
prepared for all "salvage" sales. 

This is the second round of decision making by the Forest and
litigation by the Southwest Center over the Rustler Sale. The
Forest Service wants to release 250,000 board feet of timber from
the area burned by the Rattlesnake Fire in 1994. This sale was
initially announced and public involvement was solicited earlier
this year. The Forest continued to push the sale despite a
moratorium on logging throughout the southwest. The Forest
withdrew the decision notice for the sale on December 8th after
the Southwest Center and SEAC - Southwest vowed to file
contempt of court charges.

Later that same day the Forest released the sale again under the
Rescission Act. Fortunately, they can't get anything right. This
sale cannot be allowed under Categorical Exclusion due to a
Memorandum of Agreement signed by the US Dept. of
Agriculture and the US Dept. of Interior that requires the Forest
Service to adhere to all existing conservation plans for the
Mexican spotted owl. The MOA states that any action taken,
within or outside of critical habitat, "may effect" the MSO, and
thus requires consultation.

Suit filed for the Southern maritime chaparral

The Southwest Center in November filed a lawsuit to compel the
Fish and Wildlife Service to list six plant species from southern
California as threatened and endangered. All six species are
found along the southern California coastline in Orange and San
Diego Counties and are indicators of declining Southern
maritime chaparral.

Southern maritime chaparral is a unique vegetation shaped by
unusual soil types and dense autumnal coastal fog. Because fog
distribution is limited, the Southern maritime chaparral was
never extensive. Out of 20,000 original acres, fewer than 2500
severely fragmented acres remain. Many Southern maritime
chaparral species are relics from periods of wetter climate in
southern California and include the Del Mar manzinita,  short-
leaved live-forever, and the well known Torrey pine. Of the six
species included in the suit, the big-leaved crown beard is the
most abundant with thousands of individuals remaining, while
fewer than twenty individual Orcutt's spineflower specimens
remain at a single location.

A final rule was due for these Federally proposed species in
October 1994. To no one's surprise, the Service delayed the
decision until the congressional moratorium on species listings
took effect in April 1995. The suit is on hold pending outcome
of Presidential / Congressional wrangling over numerous riders
included on the Interior Appropriations bill. These riders include
an extension of the moratorium on species listings.

For more information please contact the Southwest Center at:
P.O. Box 17839
Tucson AZ 85731