739 Miles of U.S. Coast to Be Protected for Loggerheads
Following five years of delay -- plus petitions and a lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana and Turtle Island Restoration Network -- the federal government has proposed to protect more than 739 miles of "critical habitat" for threatened loggerhead sea turtles on their nesting beaches along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Friday's decision marks the first time permanent habitat protection has been proposed for sea turtles along these coasts (outside of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
"The Southeast's nesting loggerheads swim thousands of miles through an obstacle course of human-made hazards," said Florida Center attorney Jacki Lopez. Along the way they face serious threats, from fishing nets to loss of nesting beaches through development to ocean pollution and sea-level rise.
Says Jacki, "Protected beach habitat will help ensure that when these amazing turtles reach our beaches, exhausted and ready to nest, they're met with true southern hospitality: plenty of food, good conditions for nesting, and safe beaches for hatchlings to leave their nests so they may someday return to continue the cycle of life."
Read more in the Savannah Morning News.
Uranium Mining Ban Buttressed for 1 Million Grand Canyon Acres
A federal judge has upheld a ban, hard-won by the Center for Biological Diversity and partners, prohibiting new uranium mining across 1 million acres in and around the Grand Canyon.
The Obama administration enacted the 20-year ban last year to protect wildlands, wildlife and water sources on public land in the region. Predictably, the mining industry challenged that decision in court. The Center and allies (including the local Havasupai tribe, to whom the area is sacred) intervened to defend the government's decision, and we've now prevailed.
Our success will help protect Grand Canyon species like the highly endangered California condor, which soars along the canyon's towering walls; the delicate soils anchoring its vegetation; its holy American Indian sites; and the vitally important water sources used by those tribes, wildlife and park visitors. A few old mines are still trying to reopen illegally, and the Center and partners continue to fight for the health of this amazing natural landmark.
Read more in the Navajo-Hopi Observer.
Center Suit Pushing Reduction of Airborne Lead
Litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health is helping move our country away from harmful lead pollution in the air. The Center filed suit against the EPA in 2012 to force all 50 U.S. states, within three years, to enact plans to meet 2008 air-quality standards for lead emissions -- updated, tougher Clean Air Act standards. These new standards cut airborne lead levels by 90 percent to protect the environment and public health -- including the health of children, whose IQs can be lowered by lead exposure. Before the Center's lawsuit, a dozen states had failed to submit their new air-quality standard plans.
Since our suit, five states have filed plans: Colorado, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. Massachusetts, Illinois and Hawaii are in the midst of completing theirs. The EPA also finalized a previous plan submittal by Tennessee. That leaves just Vermont, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.
After the phaseout of leaded gasoline, most airborne lead comes from lead smelters, waste incinerators, utilities and lead-acid battery makers, with an estimated 16,000 sources in the United States emitting 1,300 tons into the air yearly. Meanwhile more than 300,000 U.S. children are affected by lead poisoning, with minority and low-income communities in urban areas disproportionately hurt.
Learn more about the Center's Toxics and Endangered Species campaign.
Suit Filed to Save Border-crossing Endangered Wolves -- Thank You
Thanks to your generosity in recent weeks, the Center for Biological Diversity today sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for letting agencies capture wolves in southern and northern Arizona and New Mexico and keep them in captivity indefinitely. This is a major step forward to help the rarest U.S wolf recover in all the wild places it can. Our suit seeks to protect incoming, roaming wolves from federal and state trapping in New Mexico and Arizona. These are wolves coming from Mexico, where Mexican gray wolves are being reintroduced, and the northern Rockies (but not from the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area where Mexican wolves are reintroduced in the United States).
The permit we're challenging allows the live capture of any number of endangered wolves for any reason, including the claim that wolves are attacking livestock. The Center's multiple campaigns to defend all U.S. gray wolves -- including our separate suit for Mexican wolves in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, which already suffer from reduced protections, as well as our campaigns to restore and recover gray wolves on the West Coast -- could not be pushing forward strongly without your help. Thank you again for standing with us to save wolves.
Read more in our press release.
Wildlands vs. Highways: California Forest Defended from Bypass
The California Department of Transportation is already felling trees and razing vegetation in the Eel River headwaters -- without valid permits -- as part of just one of the highway agency's numerous environmentally damaging, wasteful highway-widening projects in Northern California. If you're a Californian, you've probably heard of this one: the Willits Bypass.
The Center for Biological Diversity and allies sued "Caltrans" in 2012 over inadequate environmental review for this proposed superhighway through precious wetlands around the community of Willits, in Mendocino County. Caltrans has begun cutting down mature oak forests, removing brush and destroying riparian vegetation along critical salmon streams before our case can even be heard in federal court this summer.
The controversy has inspired folks to take to the trees: Twenty-four-year-old Amanda Senseman has been sitting in a two-story pine tree house on the bypass construction site since Jan. 28, and passionate Center activist Jeff Miller has organized a coalition called "Caltrans Watch" to fight this and other harmful highway projects.
Read more in our press release.
This Earth Day, Help Save the Planet With Endangered Species Condoms
For this year's Earth Day (April 22), the Center for Biological Diversity will be selecting 10 volunteers who are organizing or attending special events to distribute our free Endangered Species Condoms. Our innovative condom campaign has drawn attention around the country, with people handing the condoms out at all types of community gatherings. Some students and faculty at Purdue University, for example, plan to dress up as endangered species this Earth Day and distribute our prophylactics to shake things up and help raise awareness of the population/extinction problem.
With more than 7 billion people on the planet, there's no better time to start the conversation about population -- and no easier way than with our free condoms, whose bright pictures and clever slogans link species extinction to unsustainable human population.
If you already have an Earth Day event in the works, please sign up by Wednesday, April 3 to distribute our Endangered Species Condoms. Learn more about our 7 Billion and Counting campaign and read more about Purdue's event in the Indianapolis Star. (Can't wait till Earth Day to attend a Center-centered event? If you live in San Francisco, check out our presentation "Fracked Nation," given by Climate Law Institute Director Kassie Siegel.)
55,000 People Want Ala. "Rattlesnake Rodeo" to Become Wildlife Festival
Right before an annual "rattlesnake rodeo" in Opp, Ala., this past weekend, the Center for Biological Diversity presented a 55,000-signature petition asking the city to replace the rattlesnake rodeo with a wildlife-friendly festival where no snakes are killed. The city of Opp and Whigham, Ga., host the only two remaining lethal rattlesnake roundups in the Southeast; last year Claxton, Ga., replaced its roundup with a nonlethal rattlesnake and wildlife festival.
In 2011 the Center and allies filed a petition to protect eastern diamondbacks under the Endangered Species Act; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has begun a full status review to figure out whether to give the snakes protection.
"The eastern diamondbacks targeted by the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo are rapidly disappearing all across the southeastern United States," said the Center's snake specialist Collette Adkins Giese. "I hope this will be the last time rattlers are collected for the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo. There's no reason to kill these rare animals. Most people attending the Opp event just want to see some amazing snakes and have a fun day."
Read more in our press release.
Wild & Weird: Tourist-fed Stingrays Turn Lazy
According to a recent study, tourist interaction with stingrays at one of the world's most visited ecotourism destinations has caused the cartilaginous fishes to become more sedentary and aggressive than their wilder counterparts. It's even altered their mating habits.
Ecotourist companies at Stingray City -- a series of sandbars in the Cayman Islands -- promise an interactive experience with marine wildlife, drawing more than a million visitors per year. Tourists arrive ready to feed, pet and swim with stingrays; a single stingray equates to about $500,000 a year in tourism income for the islands.
But a team of researchers from Nova Southeastern University in Florida and the University of Rhode Island have concluded that close human contact and daily feedings along Stingray City have transformed stingray behavior. These formerly solitary, nocturnal hunters, which travel great distances, have become homebodies and daytime feeders that crowd in groups of more than 100 and spend their days within a quarter of a square mile. Plus, stingrays near the eco-resort exhibit signs of unusual aggression, biting each other more often than normal, and have abandoned their usual mating season for mating year-round.
Get more from Phys.Org and check out the study in PLOS One.
Photo credits: loggerhead sea turtle hatchling courtesy USFWS; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Picasa Creative Commons/Joseph and Farideh; Grand Canyon by Edward McCain; child playing outside courtesy Flickr/Micah Taylor; Mexican gray wolf by Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; coho salmon courtesy Flickr/Dan Bennett; Endangered Species Condoms design (c) Lori Lieber and artwork (c) Roger Peet; man with stingray courtesy Flickr/Connie Serratt.
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