Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 2, 2018

Contact: Stephanie Kurose, (202) 849-8395,

Daines Launches New Legislative Assault on Endangered Species, Public Lands

Bill Would Ramp up Destructive Logging, Mining, Livestock Grazing on All National Forests

WASHINGTON— Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) has introduced a bill to cripple protections for endangered species on national forests across the country. 

If passed, the legislation would allow the U.S. Forest Service to carry out destructive logging, mining and livestock grazing projects regardless of the consequences to endangered species — even if new information suggests a species is on the verge of extinction because of those activities.

This latest attack comes on the heels of the Trump administration’s extreme proposals to gut the Endangered Species Act and the protections it provides to the nation’s most imperiled animals and plants and the places they live.

“Senator Daines is bent on pushing some of our country’s most iconic wildlife toward the brink of extinction,” said Stephanie Kurose, endangered species policy specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “These attacks on America’s natural heritage will only benefit special interests like the oil and gas industry, which profits from destroying our planet.”

Daines successfully pushed a similar legislative rider in the 2018 Omnibus package that reversed a 2015 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service.

That legislation weakened the Endangered Species Act’s consultation process on Forest Service lands by eliminating a long-standing requirement to consider how to minimize harms to newly listed species and their critical habitat on those lands.

This new legislation would allow the Forest Service to ignore “any new information” about a species or its habitat until the agency writes or revises its land management plans—actions that only occur once every few decades. Those delays could lead to wildlife extinctions.

Consider the Mount Graham red squirrel. The 2017 Frye fire in the Coronado National Forest of Arizona and New Mexico led to a dramatic loss of squirrels and their habitat. In light of this new information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was required to thoughtfully reassess how existing projects in the area may harm the last remaining squirrels.

Similarly, amid new information about the presence of an endangered ocelot at the site of Arizona’s proposed open-pit Rosemont copper mine, the Service announced it would reexamine the mine’s probable impacts on the wild cat.

“National forests and endangered wildlife will suffer for decades to come and wildlife may go extinct if these attacks move forward,” said Kurose. “It takes a deeply greedy and cynical person to continue pushing legislation that would roll back these critical protections.”

So far this Congress, Republicans have launched 110 attacks on the Endangered Species Act and are on pace to be the most anti-wildlife Congress in history. These attacks continue despite the Act’s success of saving 99 percent of the species under its care and putting hundreds more on the road to recovery.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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