Subject: FW: SW Biodiversity Alert #8

Subject: SW Biodiversity Alert #8

     **** **** SOUTHWEST BIODIVERSITY ALERT #9 **** ****

Southwest Center for Biological Diversity
pob 17839, tucson, az 85731


Following the submission of 60-day notices of intent to sue by the
Southwest Center (December 11, 1995) and Defenders of Wildlife
(February 6, 1996), the Bureau of Reclamation has agreed to
reinitiate a stalled Endangered Species Act consultation process for
operations and maintenance activities on the Lower Colorado River.
BuRec had earlier taken steps to consult with the Fish and Wildlife
Service ("Service") over its impacts on endangered species including
the razorback sucker, bonytail chub and southwestern willow
flycatcher. It cancelled the potentially devastating consultation,
however, in favor of a Lower Colorado Multi-Species Conservation
Program being developed by the states of California, Arizona and

BuRec re-committed to the consultation within days of the Southwest
Center's 60-day notice becoming ripe.  It thus narrowly avoided the
same kind of programatic ESA consultation litigation which has held
up logging on the Southwest's eleven National Forests since August,

The planned consultation, however, is an orchestrated sham which
continues to violate the heart of the ESA.  Since it will
inevitably result in jeopardy opinions on endangered Southwestern
fish, the consultation should also produce a Reasonable and Prudent
Alternative (RPA) to the continued destruction of the Lower Colorado
River.  This would be a historic turning point in western river
conservation efforts.

In order to avoid such an outcome (and the threat it would pose to
very, very powerful water interests) BuRec, the Fish and Wildife
Service, and the states of California, Arizona and Nevada have signed
a Memorandum of Agreement which essentially guts protection for
endangered species on the river.  The MOA pre-determines that
"sufficient progress" on the Multi-Species Conservation plan is to
serve as the RPA for all consultations. In other words, BuRec and the
Fish and Wildlife Service have given control of the future of the
entire Lower Colorado River to water developers.  Say hello to state
implementation of the ESA!

The good new is that the Southwest Center's ripe notice of intent to
sue, also includes the illegal MOA.  We plan to have BuRec, Fish and
Wildlife, and the states in court within a few weeks.


The Southwest Center has appealed 15 grazing permits renewals on the
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The allotments contain recovery
habitat for the Apache trout, a federally threatened species endemic
to the White Mountains of east-central Arizona.

In response to heavy pressure from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the
Forest Service previously agreed to a Apache Trout Habitat
Improvement Project mandating the fencing off more than a dozen
Priority 1 stream reaches vital to the recovery of Apache trout. The
Forest Service, however, has refused to implement the Project despite
condemnation from the FWS. Recovery efforts for the Apache trout are
futile while the Forest Service permits continued destruction of
habitat in designated recovery streams.