700 River Miles Protected for Endangered Southwest Fish
Two of the most endangered fish in the Southwest now have more than 700 miles of protected "critical habitat" to save them from habitat loss and invasive species. The designation announced Wednesday, to help the spikedace and loach minnow, follows a lawsuit and years of advocacy by the Center for Biological Diversity. Both fish have been eliminated from more than 80 percent of their historic ranges in Arizona and New Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also granted both fish Endangered Species Act upgrades -- from the designation of "threatened" to "endangered" -- acknowledging they need more federal help.
The Center has been advocating for loach minnows -- less than a quarter-inch long upon hatching -- as well as the short-snouted, wide-mouthed spikedace since 1993, when we sued the Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to designate critical habitat for both. Besides working to make that lawsuit a success, we've gotten both fish reintroduced to Arizona's fragile Fossil Creek, one of the state's most treasured but formerly degraded watersheds (now restored due to work by the Center and allies).
Read more in the Albuquerque Journal.
Lawsuit Targets Arctic Drilling Pollution
The Center for Biological Diversity and partners have filed a lawsuit challenging air pollution permits for Shell's exploratory drilling operations in the Arctic. The oil giant's plans to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas will not only damage the Arctic's fragile ecosystems but accelerate the climate change that's already robbing polar bears and walruses of the sea ice they need to survive.
The Environmental Protection Agency approved the air permits for Shell's exploratory drilling ships even though they don't comply with the latest Clean Air Act standards -- and don't require the company to use readily available technologies to make big cuts in pollution. Time is of the essence in this case: Shell intends to drill in the Arctic's remote, stormy waters starting this summer.
Get more from ABC News.
Help Restore Wolves to California
A wandering wolf who made it to California late last year offers new hope for wolf recovery in the Golden State. But if wolves are going to recolonize suitable habitat in California, they'll need the protection of the state's Endangered Species Act. That designation is vital because it'll lead to the creation of a recovery plan for California's wolves -- something that's never been done but will function as a roadmap for providing safe habitat and keeping the animals from being hunted and trapped.
The Center for Biological Diversity needs your help to make sure wolves in California get the protection they need to survive and thrive. Please help us pay for this critical work by donating today to our California Wolf Fund.
Wolves have been absent from California for more than 80 years. While conservation groups like the Center are celebrating the arrival of a wolf to Northern California, the livestock industry has vowed to keep the species from gaining a foothold. Returning wolves to California is going to be a fight -- one that, with your support, we can win. Please consider making a generous gift to our California Wolf Fund and sharing this request with your friends.
Obama Proposal Would Limit Species Protections -- Take Action
What if the bald eagle had never been protected under the Endangered Species Act? The lower 48 would be without this iconic species, and one of the most important recovery stories in the United States would never have been told.
But that's just the kind of scenario that could play out for species around the country under a new proposal. The Obama administration, carrying over a Bush-era plan, wants to reinterpret a key provision of the Endangered Species Act so that new protection would be given only to those species at risk of going extinct in every single place where they live. That's a departure from what Congress clearly intended when it passed the Endangered Species Act, which was to protect a species simply because it is endangered in "a significant portion of its range."
Had this policy been in place 40 years ago, the bald eagle never would've been protected, because while it was on the path toward extinction in the lower 48 states, it was still common in Alaska. The Obama administration's proposed change would sharply limit the number of plants and animals given protection under the Endangered Species Act. Help us make sure that doesn't happen.
Read more about this terrible policy and then take action against this dangerous policy change.
Proposed Water Grab Threatens California Rivers, Salmon Recovery
An attempted water heist by powerful corporate agribusinesses in California's San Joaquin Valley threatens to drive the state's prized wild salmon extinct. A disastrous bill just OK'd by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee would gut environmental protections for the San Francisco Bay-Delta and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their salmon. The legislation would also end restoration of the San Joaquin River, stop the revival of its salmon runs and nullify existing water rights to guarantee water for wealthy corporations.
The bill, pushed by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, turns water policies on their head, reversing years of work to save salmon and other imperiled fish in the Bay-Delta. It would also set a troubling precedent allowing politicians to overturn science-based protections and pick and choose when and how the Endangered Species Act is carried out. The bill, H.R. 1837, now heads to the full House for a vote.
Read an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle and learn about our work for species in the Bay Area and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Arizona Species Get Help Against Copper Mine -- Watch Video
The evidence continues to mount against the proposed Rosemont open-pit copper mine in southern Arizona. Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers outlining serious concerns with the Rosemont permit application under the Clean Water Act -- a permit the company must get in order to move ahead with the mine. The EPA letter highlighted a range of concerns, including questionable hydrological studies submitted by the company, the likelihood of significant damage to rare wetlands and a lack of any assessment of impacts to threatened and endangered species.
A move like the EPA's letter is rare -- only about a dozen times in the past 40 years has it pulled rank on the Corps' authority to issue these permits. But for the imperiled plants and animals threatened by this mining proposal, the sound of the agency's voice is welcome indeed. And it adds new fuel to the Center for Biological Diversity's long-running fight to stop this destructive project.
Watch a new video showing the threat of mining and development in the Patagonia area just south of Rosemont -- which happens to be a major movement corridor for jaguar, ocelot and other wildlife. Then learn more about the Center’s fight to save all species and habitat in the area and beyond.
Save Florida's Manatees -- Take Action
Florida's deepest and largest spring is in danger, spelling trouble for the incredible animals that live there, including the gentle and playful Florida manatee.
Right now Florida is considering opening Wakulla Spring to recreational diving in a place the manatees depend on in for a warm-water refuge during the winter. In fact, one of the biggest threats to manatees -- animals reputed to have inspired sailors' tales of mermaids -- is in fact diving, which disrupts its feeding and social habits.
The Center for Biological Diversity has been defending the Florida manatee for years, since we sued the federal government for failing to keep up with management of the fragile species. Take action now to tell Florida not to open delicate Wakulla Spring to recreational diving that could hurt the manatee and many other water-dwelling Florida species. Then learn more about saving the Florida manatee.
Owl Lovers of the World Unite
The Center for Biological Diversity got its start saving Mexican spotted owls, and we're not afraid to admit we have a soft spot for owls of all kinds. The birds are celebrated annually at the upcoming International Festival of Owls, a gathering and awards ceremony in Minnesota featuring some of the world's foremost owl experts.
Every year both people and owls are honored. Among this year's human award-winners are two people who erected an owl nesting box in their backyard and mounted an "owl cam" on it, attracting 21 million viewers in 104 countries. Then there's the Lady Gray'l Award, given this year to a spotted eagle owl named Pot Plant Owl (also the star of a webcam show) who's been raised in a plant pot on a Johannesburg balcony since 2008. Other recipients were recognized for their work on owl conservation and taxonomy.
Learn more about the upcoming International Festival of Owl, starting March 2, as well as the Center's work to save owls.
Wild & Weird: Zombie Fungus Raised From the Dead
Who needs B movies when you've got real life? An ancient, formerly deceased yeast species has been dredged out of its Andean tomb beneath a modern slum in Ecuador, cultured in a biologist's lab and brought back to life, according to an article published this week. The 1,500-year-old yeast, now called Candida theae, was scraped out of what was essentially a very old beer keg, excavated in 1980 from a site that also contained about 20 bodies.
Apparently part of the remains of a long-dead brewski, the newly reanimated fungus is not like yeasts used in modern beverage fermentation techniques but more closely related to yeasts that cause skin and vaginal fungal infections. According to 16th-century reports by Spanish chroniclers, Incas began the fermentation process using human saliva, among other unsavory starters; the finding of C. theae may help to confirm that report. The undead yeast has not yet showed signs of tottering around with rotting arms outstretched or exhibited brain-eating tendencies.
Read more in Scientific American.
Photo credits: spikedace courtesy Wikimedia Commons/USFWS; polar bear (c) Larry Master/masterimages.org; gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Retron; bald eagle (c) Robin Silver; coho salmon courtesy USFWS; greater sage grouse by Dave Menke, USFWS; manatees courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/USFWS; burrowing owl (c) Marcus Armani; yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Mosur.
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