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Action timeline

December 7, 1999 – In response to a Center lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 19,474 acres of critical habitat for the western snowy plover. A building-industry lawsuit to remove the species from the endangered species list was unsuccessful.

2005 – The Center intervened in a building-industry suit to reduce the snowy plover’s critical habitat, and a revised designation of just more than 12,000 acres was finalized. The new designation eliminated protection for thousands of acres scientists believed necessary for the snowy plover’s survival; it included no protections at all for the San Francisco Bay area, which has one of the largest populations of snowy plovers anywhere.

August 13, 2007 – The Fish and Wildlife Service issued a dubious recovery plan for the snowy plover, calling for a goal of restoring an overall population of 3,000 breeding adults — not many more than currently exist — to be maintained for 10 years. The recovery plan and low population target will likely cause a decline in the total plover population in the short term and is very unlikely to ever actually recover the species.

August 28, 2007 – The Center submitted a notice of intent to sue the Bush administration over 55 illegal Endangered Species Act decisions, including the 2005 decision to slash the snowy plover’s critical habitat.

October 2, 2008 – The Center sued the Bush administration over six politically tainted Endangered Species Act decisions, including the unlawful reduction of the plover’s habitat protections.

April 21, 2009 – The Center filed a formal notice of intent to sue the California Department of Parks and Recreation over its ongoing authorization of motorized vehicle use at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, which is known to kill wintering snowy plovers.

March 21, 2011 – In response to our 2008 lawsuit, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to increase critical habitat protections for the Pacific Coast population of the western snowy plover, more than doubling the protected area from 12,145 acres to 28,261 acres in Washington, Oregon and California.



Photo © Mike Baird