Two Arizona Plants Move Toward Safeguards
Two beautiful plants in Arizona's equally beautiful "Sky Islands" are a step closer to Endangered Species Act protections. As part of the Center for Biological Diversity's historic agreement to speed up protection decisions on 757 species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that the rare beardless chinch weed and Bartram stonecrop may warrant safeguards under the Act. That's important news: The plants are directly threatened by a proposed mile-wide, open-pit copper mine near Tucson. In fact, the Rosemont mine would impact more than 145,000 acres of habitat and many endangered species the Center fights to defend, including the Coleman's coralroot, two rare snails, the Gila chub, the long-nosed bat -- even the mighty jaguar.
The Bartram stonecrop, a small succulent with a rosette of dainty, blue-gray fleshy "leaves," is known to live in only 12 locations, while beardless chinch weed -- a tall, yellow flower in the aster family -- is found in 13. Both plants are threatened by livestock grazing and other factors . . . like Rosemont.
Get more from the Cronkite News Service and learn more about Sky Islands conservation and our 757 species agreement.
California Wildlife Officials: Protect Gray Wolves
There's good news for the future of wolves in California: The state's Department of Fish and Game on Wednesday recommended that any gray wolf in the state be protected under the California Endangered Species Act. The recommendation came in response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and allies earlier this year after the wolf known as Journey, or OR-7, wandered into California from Oregon in late 2011.
Journey was the first wolf in California in more than 80 years and a potent symbol of promise for wolf recovery along the West Coast, a key priority for the Center. If wolves are going to ultimately survive and thrive in the Golden State, they'll need protection from the state's Endangered Species Act and a legal plan for recovery. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has indicated it wants to strip federal protections for all wolves in the lower 48 states -- so it's all the more important that they get safeguards from the state law. The California Fish and Game Commission is expected to decide on the recommendation in October.
Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle and learn more about wolves on the West Coast.
Puget Sound Orcas Under Clumsy Attack
Images of the orcas (or "killer whales") of Puget Sound grace coffee mugs, T-shirts and totem poles, but a right-wing property-rights group called the Pacific Legal Foundation and several other organizations have submitted a petition to strip them of Endangered Species Act protections. The petition submitted last week egregiously claims that, since orcas are found worldwide, the American population doesn't deserve protection.
It's the same argument that the foundation made -- and lost -- in court before. The Center for Biological Diversity's Noah Greenwald emphasized that the Endangered Species Act was specifically written to allow protections for U.S. wildlife populations, without which bald eagles and gray wolves -- also found elsewhere in the world -- may not have survived in the lower 48 states.
Puget Sound orcas are genetically unique, have their own dialect and are one of the only populations to feed extensively on salmon. They were protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2005 after a petition by the Center and allies.
Read more in The Seattle Times and learn about saving the Puget Sound killer whale.
BLM Report Blasts Las Vegas Water Grab Proposal -- Take Action
The federal government has released a damning "final environmental impact statement" for the Southern Nevada Water Authority's proposed 300-mile water pipeline. It confirms the Center for Biological Diversity's concerns that pumping 37.1 billion gallons of groundwater a year from the Great Basin to feed Las Vegas sprawl would cause irreparable damage to central Nevada's ecosystems and cause the water table in some areas to drop more than 200 feet, transforming the landscape into an arid dustbowl.
This water is a remnant of glaciers that melted 10,000 years ago, and desert fish, like the Moapa dace, as well as endemic springsnails, would probably die off completely if it disappears. The Colombia spotted frog and other reptiles and amphibians could also be doomed by the drainage, and greater sage grouse, pronghorns and elk would suffer as well.
Read more about the impact statement in our press release and take action to tell the feds to deny this deadly pipeline's right-of-way application.
Cruel Summer: July Was The Hottest Month Ever
Is it getting hotter in here? It's not just your imagination: The federal government reported this week that July was the hottest month ever recorded in the contiguous United States. This July-to-July period is also the warmest 12 months ever seen in records dating back to 1895. Adding insult to injury -- nearly 63 percent of the lower 48 states is in the grip of drought and, during July, more than 2 million acres have burned, roughly a half-million acres more than average.
Seems like a good time for the United States to finally take climate change seriously. We can save the planet from runaway climate catastrophe, but only if we act fast. A good place to start: fully utilizing the Clean Air Act to finally bring carbon emissions under control. And if we do nothing? Well, these extreme temperatures will become the norm.
Get more from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and then read a letter to the editor in USA TODAY by Kassie Siegel, director of the Center's Climate Law Institute.
Suit Launched Over Fossil Fuel Projects in Great Barrier Reef
The Center for Biological Diversity and our allies have initiated a new legal challenge against the Export-Import Bank, the U.S. export credit agency, for financing two massive fossil fuel facilities proposed for Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
The projects, which include construction and operation of two liquefied natural gas facilities, will threaten dugongs, sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles and numerous other protected marine species within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Our suit challenges the nearly $3 billion in financing that the bank has provided for the projects.
Dugongs, distant relatives of the manatee, can live for 70 years and grow to nearly 1,000 pounds, but they're seriously threatened by continued destruction of their sea-grass habitat. In 2003 the Center used innovative legal tactics to secure new protections for the dugong in Japan. Our new challenge builds on that first-ever lawsuit under the U.S. National Historic Preservation Act's international provisions, as well as the Endangered Species Act, to hopefully secure habitat protection for species in the Great Barrier Reef.
Get more from ThinkProgress and read our press release.
Cave Closures in Rockies Renewed to Stop Bat-killing Disease
For the third year in a row, the U.S. Forest Service has done a good thing by bats: renewed an emergency closure of caves on national forest land in the Rocky Mountain Region. This safety measure could stop the human transport of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome. This aggressive bat disease began in upstate New York and, in just six years, has swept across 19 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces, leaving almost 7 million bats dead in its wake. It apparently causes bats to rouse from their hibernation and fly around until they reach exhaustion and starve.
The Center for Biological Diversity -- led by our Northeast Conservation Advocate Mollie Matteson -- petitioned all federal land-management agencies to close caves in 2010 and urged the White House Council on Environmental Quality earlier this year to force the agencies to actually enact closures. We also petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection for the eastern small-footed bat and northern long-eared bat -- both named for their most notable body part -- which have been particularly hard hit by the disease. A decision on their protection is due next year.
Check out our press release, get more from the Denver Post and learn about the Center's Save Our Bats campaign.
Biodiversity Briefing: Defending the Arctic From Big Oil -- Listen Now
In the Center for Biological Diversity's latest "Biodiversity Briefing" with key supporters, Executive Director Kierán Suckling and Alaska Director Rebecca Noblin discussed our campaign to protect the Arctic. Rebecca shared a live Web presentation outlining the planned and proposed oil drilling operations in the Arctic, and the incredible wildlife that calls this fragile wilderness home. The Center and allies have kept Shell Oil out of the Arctic's Beaufort and Chukchi seas since 2007, but now Shell is readying to put its drills in the water this summer.
On the call, Rebecca outlined what we're doing to save the Arctic from offshore drilling. Right now we're working to federally protect these Arctic species (and with them, their home): ice seals, walruses, yellow-billed loons and, of course, polar bears, which were awarded 187,000 square miles of protected critical habitat in 2010 after efforts by the Center and allies. We're also in court challenging Shell's poor plans to deal with oil spills -- nearly impossible to clean up in icy waters -- and other impacts. "We're pulling out all the stops," said Rebecca.
You can now listen to the first part of the briefing. These personal phone briefings, Web presentations and Q&As with Center staff are open by special invitation to members of the Center's Leadership Circle and Legacy Society. For information on how to join this group of supporters and participate live when the calls happen, email Major Gifts Associate Julie Ragland or call her toll-free at (866) 357-3349 x 304.
Alaska Corals Found at Shell Drilling Site
Polar bears, walruses, seals and seabirds aren't the only species at risk of extinction in the Arctic, threatened by Shell Oil's drilling. Many, many more marine creatures, including cold-water corals, live under the sea -- and they're some of the most sensitive of all. Biologists with Greenpeace recently found two specimens of a type of coral called "sea raspberry" in the Chukchi Sea, right where Shell is proposing to drill.
Cold-water corals cover the seabed at Shell's proposed drill sites, and they're some of the most abundant that people have seen in any of the world's oceans -- with densities similar to those of Florida's coral reefs. Cold-water corals are soft and sensitive to any disturbance, much less oil drills boring through them. They're also critical for the survival of many Arctic fish and other marine wildlife, and thus the ecosystem's entire food web.
The Center for Biological Diversity has been keeping a close eye on the plight of these amazing, unique Alaska corals. Stay tuned for more on big action we're taking to save them.
Read further at The Washington Post and check out this video.
Wild & Weird: Holy Hill Climber! Goatman Spotted in Utah
A new masked crusader has been spotted in the high peaks of Northern Utah. Known as Goatman to some, a guy in a homemade goat suit has been spotted -- and photographed -- awkwardly cavorting on all fours with a herd of mountain goats.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources investigated and found that, though odd, there's nothing illegal about the man's interspecies cross-dressing. The agency is concerned, however, that Goatman is endangering his own life -- wild goats have hurt people in the past and, if his costume is really good, he could be targeted in the coming hunting season.
So who was this masked man? After the story made national news, a 57-year-old California man called the Utah wildlife agency claiming he was merely trying out his goat suit in preparation for a goat hunt in Canada next year.
Read more in The Huffington Post and see the video.
Photo credits: orca courtesy Flickr Commons/mrmritter; Bartram stonecrop (c) Alan Cressler; gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Retron; orca courtesy Flickr Commons/TheGiirlsNY; Moapa dace courtesy Flickr Commons/USFWS; drought-ridden field courtesy Flickr Commons/Hossam el-Hamalawy; Great Barrier Reef courtesy Flickr Commons/The.Rohit; big brown bat courtesy Flickr Commons/USFWS; Pacific walruses courtesy Flickr Commons/USFWS Headquarters; Noble Discoverer drillship courtesy Flickr Commons/fkbrooks85; faun courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Pearson Scott Foresman.
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