38 Hawaiian Species, 271,000 Acres to Earn Protection
Great news (or maika'i nui loa on the Hawaiian islands) for 38 of Hawaii's most imperiled plants and animals: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday proposed to protect 35 plants and three tree snails under the Endangered Species Act. The decision is thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity's landmark 2011 settlement requiring speedy decisions for 757 species. The agency also proposed protecting 271,000 acres of "critical habitat" for these 38 species and 97 others that are already protected.
The plants proposed for protection are a stunning variety of colorful geraniums, sunflowers, bellflowers, vines, shrubs and trees -- with colorful Hawaiian names, like the hala pepe, popolo, kookoolau, awikiwiki and haha nui. The snails are found only on wet cliffs, where they eat fungus and algae; all 38 plants and animals are threatened by habitat loss and invasive species like feral pigs and rats. The Center petitioned to protect 20 of the 38 species back in 2004.
Get more from the Courthouse News Service and learn about the historic 757 species agreement we reached last July.
6,500 Acres Protected for Mississippi Gopher Frog
In response to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Mississippi gopher frog -- a chubby, dark-spotted little amphibian federally protected in 2002 -- was just granted protected "critical habitat": a whopping 6,477 acres. That's three times larger than what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in 2010.
This critically endangered gopher frog is known to consistently breed in only one pond in the world, in Mississippi's DeSoto National Forest. A settlement called "Tradition," which would be home to 35,000 people, is proposed for the area; the Center is in talks with its developer to make sure the gopher frog survives.
"Critical habitat provides essential information to landowners and managers, who then often work to find creative ways to ensure the habitat is protected," said the Center's Noah Greenwald. "You simply can't throw a lifeline to endangered species without protecting the places they live."
Read more in The Republic and learn about saving the Mississippi gopher frog.
Two Florida Cities Join Dozens in Clean Air Campaign -- Help Yours Be Next
Twenty-seven cities in 16 states have now joined the Center for Biological Diversity's Clean Air Cities campaign with the addition of Tampa and Gulfport, Fla., last week. Both cities passed resolutions June 6 urging President Obama and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use the Clean Air Act to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide in order to stave off catastrophic climate change.
These two newest members of the campaign are important because low-lying, peninsular Florida has much to lose from sea-level rise and other impacts of climate change. The Florida cities join Seattle, Pittsburgh, Chicago and a score of others calling for action on the climate crisis.
If you're not already a resident of one of our Clean Air Cities, become one by leading your community in joining this nationwide movement. We'll support you every step of the way. And you can check out our "Clean Air States" map showing all states that boast Clean Air Cities.
Lawsuit Launched to Save Arizona's Unique Bald Eagles
Last month, for the third time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took Endangered Species Act protection away from Arizona's irreplaceable desert-nesting bald eagles, even though only about 200 remain on Earth. So on June 11, along with a partner, the Center for Biological Diversity launched a new lawsuit to bring back the precious eagles' protection.
The Center has fought for the survival of these desert nesters since 2004, when we first petitioned to protect them as a "distinct population segment." Uniquely adapted to a hot and dry environment, where no other American eagles survive, the desert dwellers must have federal protection to save them from habitat destruction and off-road vehicles.
Get more from KNAU Arizona Public Radio and learn about saving the desert nesting bald eagle.
Lawsuit Filed to Stop Clear-cutting of Redwoods for Sonoma Vineyard
To stop a Spanish corporation from clear-cutting 154 acres of redwood forest to plant wine grapes in Sonoma County, Calif., the Center for Biological Diversity and our local partners sued the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection last week for violating state law when it approved the "forest conversion" project. Turning redwoods into vineyards would worsen climate change, damage water quality and harm habitat for wildlife including endangered salmon and steelhead.
"Clear-cutting forests to plant vineyards is foolish and shortsighted," said the Center's Justin Augustine.
Check out our press release and learn about our campaigns to save forests.
Ruling Saves Death Valley Wilderness From Would-be Road
In a victory for a desert ecosystem that supports 2,500 native species, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies defeated an Inyo County, Calif. plan to turn a wash in the Last Chance Mountains of Death Valley into a highway. The county tried to use a repealed, Civil War-era right-of-way law called R.S. 2477 to bypass National Park Service authority -- even though only one person could remember operating a vehicle on the "road" before 1977, and even he couldn't remember legitimate road features.
In his decision, Judge Anthony Ishii cited the film Field of Dreams in throwing out the imaginary road: "If nobody built it, and nobody came, it was never there." This victory protects cougars, deer and badgers that roam the still-wild Last Chance Mountains.
Read more in our press release and learn about our work to protect the Mojave desert.
Center Wins "Best in America" Seal of Approval
We never like to brag, of course, but the Center for Biological Diversity just won the "Best in America" Seal of Approval, awarded by Independent Charities of America and Local Independent Charities of America to members that have, upon rigorous independent review, been able to certify, document and demonstrate every year that they meet the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness and cost effectiveness. Only about 2 percent of the 1 million charities now operating in the United States meet or exceed Seal of Approval standards.
And we couldn't do our work without you, our supporters. Thanks so much.
Learn more about Independent Charities of America.
World Sea Turtle Day Is Coming -- Take Action for Oceans
Sea turtles are some of the most amazing creatures on Earth. Leatherback sea turtles, as ancient as the dinosaurs, are the planet's heaviest reptiles and are unmatched by other turtles in their diving skills. Loggerheads migrate more than 7,500 miles, across an entire ocean, to feed and breed, and the hawksbill can reportedly lay up to 250 eggs. To top it off, sea turtles can live at least 80 years and in all oceans of the world (except in the polar regions).
Hence World Sea Turtle Day. Coming up this Saturday, it's a day to celebrate and help save these beautiful creatures, which face incredible threats to their survival, including commercial fisheries, pollution, food-source depletion, warming oceans and ocean acidification. The Center for Biological Diversity's been working for years to save sea turtles of all stripes (we won 40,000 square miles of protected habitat for Pacific leatherbacks earlier this year), and there's plenty more work to be done.
Take action now for sea turtles and all ocean life threatened by ocean acidification, and then learn about the Center's campaigns to save leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles.
Wild & Weird: GOP Draws Line in Soon-to-be-underwater Sand
A recent report by a North Carolina science panel predicts coastal sea levels will rise by more than three feet by 2100 -- a damning calculation for a state tied up with an environmentally devastating, but financially lucrative, coastal development boom. But have no fear: State Republicans have hit upon an answer. They've made scientific predictions of climate change and rising tides not only inconvenient but, er, illegal.
A new state bill, House Bill 819, would address the crisis predicted by climate models by outlawing -- no, not CO2 emissions -- the climate models themselves. If passed, the bill will make it illegal for North Carolina to consider scenarios of accelerated sea-level rise due to global warming. GOP lawmakers want the state to only consider models based on a steady rate increase drawn from historical numbers over the past one hundred years. Climate change solved! Phew. That was close. Now North Carolina's sensitive coastal habitats -- saved from encroaching seas by the criminalization of science -- are ready for continued devastation by development.
Read more in Grist, then treat yourself to Stephen Colbert's razor sharp Word on the matter.
Photo credits: Mississippi gopher frog by Glen Johnson, USFWS; lanai tree snail courtesy Flickr Commons/USFWS Pacific; Mississippi gopher frog (c) Rana Sevosa, Photo Research Inc.; Tampa, Fla. courtesy Flickr Commons/ferret111; bald eagle courtesy USFWS; redwoods courtesy Flickr Commons/Tim Pearce, Los Gatos; peninsular bighorn sheep (c) Steve Elkins; Best in America award; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flickr Commons/mattk1979; sea level rise map courtesy Flickr Commons/Maitri.
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