Center for Biological Diversity

Yosemite toad

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2 Million Acres of Protection Proposed for Sierra Nevada Frogs and Toads

Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogIt's a huge win for some of the last remaining frogs and toads at high elevations in the Sierra Nevada: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday proposed Endangered Species Act protection for Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs and their high mountain neighbors, Yosemite toads -- along with more than 2 million acres of protected habitat. Protections were also proposed for a population of mountain yellow-legged frogs in the southern Sierras.

The proposal follows the Center for Biological Diversity's landmark 2011 agreement requiring Fish and Wildlife to make protection decisions on 757 imperiled animals and plants around the country. More than 50 species have been protected so far, and more than 90 have been proposed for protection.

Yellow-legged frogs across the Sierra Nevada have declined dramatically due to habitat destruction, pesticides, climate change and introduced fish -- while Yosemite toads have also disappeared from many areas, including in Yosemite National Park, where they were first discovered and named. These toads are mainly threatened by livestock grazing, climate change and pesticides.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

EPA: Keystone XL Needs Better Environmental Study -- Take the Pledge Now

Frostpaw at Keystone XL rallyThe federal government's right hand doesn't like what its left hand is doing. On Monday the EPA raised objections, once again, to the notorious planned Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry dirty tar-sands oil from Canada down to the Texas Gulf Coast. After four years of study, the State Department's analysis of the project's environmental impact is still lacking, the EPA said, telling State it wants a more thorough review of the pipeline's oil-spill dangers and greenhouse gas emissions.
It's yet more evidence that Keystone XL is bad news for our planet and climate. And if we're going to stop it, we must be willing to talk the talk and walk the walk.

More than 24,000 have signed our pledge to oppose the pipeline through public protests and peaceful civil disobedience if necessary. Won't you join us now?

Read more in The Huffington Post and take the Keystone pledge.

California Fishery Now Among Deadliest for Endangered Whales

Sperm whaleA new federal report finds that California's drift gillnet fishery is among the nation's deadliest for marine mammals. At least three endangered sperm whales are killed every year by the fishery -- more than twice the number federal scientists say the whales' population can withstand.

On an average year the California fishery -- which uses mile-long nets set adrift in the ocean -- catches and discards more than 100 protected whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions, as well as thousands of sharks and nontarget fish. Nearly all these creatures are dead or dying when ditched. Last fall the Center and our allies filed a notice of intent to sue the federal government over its authorization of California's gillnet fishery.

"There's no reason for endangered sperm whales to die in California gillnets. It just shouldn't happen," says the Center's Catherine Kilduff. "These incredible whales are already struggling against climate change, loud noises from military exercises and other threats. At the very least we should try to ensure they don't get snared in indiscriminate fishing nets."

Check out our press release.

Two Washington Plants Prevail in Protection

White Bluffs bladderpodA pair of eccentrically named, pretty plants won a beautiful victory this week in Washington state. Following the Center's historic 757 agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday protected the Umtanum desert buckwheat and the White Bluffs bladderpod under the Endangered Species Act, along with 3,200 acres of essential habitat.

The Umtanum desert buckwheat is a woody plant that can live 150 years; unfortunately, it's limited to a single outcrop on the edge of the Umtanum Ridge in Benton County, Wash. The White Bluffs bladderpod -- a showy, yellow-flowered perennial -- is limited to the White Bluffs area of Washington's Hanford Reach. Both plants are threatened by fire, invasive species, off-road vehicles and more; they were just discovered in 1995.

Read more in the Tri-City Herald.

Nurses, Farmers, Labor Groups Support Fracking Moratorium Bill

California frackingMore than 100 groups representing labor, farmers, public-health professionals and local residents sent a letter to California lawmakers on Tuesday in favor of a bill to halt fracking in the state. Assembly Member Richard Bloom's A.B. 1301 would place a moratorium on fracking and require a review of the controversial practice's health and environmental dangers.

"Fracking endangers our climate, air, water, wildlife, public health and private property," says the letter, whose signatory groups include the California Nurses Association, Breast Cancer Action, Family Farm Defenders, Aromas Cares for Our Environment and Frack-Free Culver City.

The bill -- sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch and Clean Water Action -- comes before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on April 29.

Check out our press release.

It's Time to End Navy's Toxic Ocean Dumping -- Take Action

Bottlenose dolphinsFor decades the U.S. Navy has been using our oceans as a staging ground for target practice. Its war games typically involve shooting and sinking old ships. But when those ships are blown apart, they release all sorts of toxic chemicals (including cancer-causing PCBs) that hurt fish, whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife.

We have a chance to stop it. The EPA is reviewing the Navy's program, known as SINKEX, and is deciding whether to continue exempting it from laws that protect marine life from dangerous substances.

Take action today to make sure the EPA does the right thing and requires the Navy to dispose of old warships in a safe, responsible way.

Lawsuit Launched Against Plan to Log 150,000 California Acres

Northern spotted owlThe Center for Biological Diversity and our allies have taken the first step in a legal challenge to a plan that would allow a private company to log 150,000 acres in Northern California, including old-growth habitat essential for salmon, spotted owls and other wildlife. Included in the plan is approval to harm or even kill more than 80 federally protected northern spotted owls.

Our challenge targets a "habitat conservation plan" approved by federal wildlife agencies that allows Fruit Growers Supply Co. to log in Siskiyou County, Calif., for years in exchange for vague and uncertain promises to protect wildlife habitat in the future. We filed our notice of intent to sue the agencies on Friday.

"These irreplaceable forests and the wildlife they harbor ought to be preserved, not sold off for unenforceable promises of protection that may or may not ever happen," said Tim Ream, a Center attorney.

Read more about our work to save northern spotted owls and their forest homes.

Center in Court to Save Frog -- Take Action With Us on "Save the Frogs Day"

Dusky gopher frogMississippi's dusky gopher frogs are a highly endangered species, and among the most sensitive of sensitive creatures: amphibians. Their semiporous skin makes them super-vulnerable to all kinds of pollution, agricultural runoff and other toxics contaminating their habitat -- which, because of development and global warming, is rapidly shrinking.

The Center won federal protection for dusky gopher frogs in 2002, later earning them 6,477 acres of federally protected "critical habitat." But now a private landowner is challenging the frog's much-needed habitat protections -- so two days before international "Save the Frogs Day" on Saturday, April 27, we're intervening in the suit to defend this shy frog's habitat. (In a particularly brazen display of cuteness, dusky gopher frogs cover their eyes with their forefeet when picked up.)

Read more about our frog-defending deeds in our press release -- and then check out the Global Amphibian Bioblitz to learn about one way you can help save frogs.

Wild & Weird: A Beautiful Glimpse Into the Post-human

Christ of the AbyssThere's something both captivating and haunting about once-bustling, soaring human architectures fallen into ruin. In the words of Mr. P.B. Shelley:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies [...]
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Check out these extraordinary photographs of the works of humankind overtaken by nature and time -- from a ghostly, abandoned amusement park outside Beijing to Soviet-era missile factories.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Yosemite toad by Lucas Wilkinson, USDA Forest Service; Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog by Adam Backlin, USGS; Frostpaw at Keystone XL rally by Beth Wellington; sperm whale courtesy the Smithsonian U.S. Museum of Natural History/Franco Banfi; White Bluffs bladderpod courtesy USFWS; California fracking courtesy Flickr/Justin Woolford; bottlenose dolphins by Carrie S. Barry, NPS; northern spotted owl by Kris Hennings, USDA Forest Service; dusky gopher frog courtesy USFWS; Christ of the Abyss courtesy Flickr/Gergely Csaba.

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