CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
<www.biologicaldiversity.org> 10-26-01 #287
§ FENCE LAKE MINE APPROVAL STALLED BY FAX BLITZ AND
§ AGREEMENT CANCELS TIMBER SALE BIDDING TO PROTECT
§ SUIT FILED TO STOP NEW MEXICO SALVAGE SALE
§ FEDERAL LAND SALE CHALLENGED TO SAVE NEW MEXICO
BUTTERFLY FROM EXTINCTION
§ GRAZING ON 634,000 ACRES CHALLENGED TO SAVE
ENDANGERED ARIZONA SPECIES
FENCE LAKE MINE APPROVAL STALLED BY FAX BLITZ AND
In a major victory for the Zuni Pueblo and environmentalists, the
Department of Interior has made an 11th hour decision against
granting federal approval to the Salt River Project’s proposed Fence
Lake coal mine. The approval was expected on 10-24-01 and would
have allowed SRP to immediately break ground on the 18,000 acre
mine in remote western New Mexico. Hydrological studies have
repeatedly demonstrated that groundwater pumping associated with
the mine would drain the Zuni Salt Lake, a unique desert ecosystem
as well as central cultural site and salt gathering area for the Zuni
Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, Navajo and Hopi tribes, and others.
SRP had worked out approval of their mining permit in a series of
secret meetings with the Department of Interior. Contrary to
Secretary of Interior Gale Norton’s pledge to facilitate dialogue
between the tribes, SRP, and the state of New Mexico, both the
tribes and environmentalists were excluded from the meetings.
Representing Interior in these negotiations was Norton’s second in
command Steven J. Griles, a top official under Interior Secretary
James Watt during the Reagan administration and long-time mining
industry employee. Before being appointed to the Deputy Secretary
position this summer, Griles worked as a consultant to the American
Mining Association, an umbrella trade organization for mining
Opposition by the Zuni Pueblo and environmental organizing,
including 1,000 faxes sent by Center members and supporters to
Norton in less than 24 hours, convinced Interior to hold up approval
of the mining permit. The permit can still be approved in the future,
however, so your help may be needed again soon!
To join the Center’s fax action network:
AGREEMENT CANCELS TIMBER SALE BIDDING TO PROTECT
On 9-5-00, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club
filed suit over a U.S. Forest Service goshawk plan guiding logging on
eight million acres of forest in Arizona and New Mexico. We intend to
seek an injunction against all logging within the Southwestern Region
of the Forest Service until a new and improved goshawk
conservation plan is developed.
As part of ongoing settlement negotiations, the Forest Service has
agreed to cancel the contract bidding process on the Dry Park timber
sale. Dry Park, located on the Kaibab National Forest, would log
between 6-8 million board feet on the Kaibab Plateau near the North
Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Kaibab Plateau contains the most
extensive stands of old-growth ponderosa pine forest in the
Southwest and the densest population of goshawks in North America.
The case is being argued by Mike Lozeau of Earthjustice.
For more information on the suit:
SUIT FILED TO STOP NEW MEXICO SALVAGE SALE
On 9-24-01 the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the
Forest Service to halt the Corner Mountain “salvage” timber sale on
the Gila National Forest. The sale would clearcut 2.5 million board
feet of ponderosa pine and Douglas-fire on 340 acres, including
7,000 trees over 16 inches. The trees to be logged were burned three
years ago when the Forest Service lost control of a prescribed
natural fire. Despite two successful Center appeals of the sale, the
Forest Service has never adequately analyzed the effects of the
proposed logging on soils, erosion and sedimentation, and wildlife.
“Salvage” logging of trees killed by fire, insects, disease, windstorm
and other natural processes has long been used as an excuse by the
Forest Service to enter areas that are otherwise off-limits due to the
presence of endangered species, roadless areas, or land that is
simply unsuitable for logging. The Gila National Forest continues this
trend on the Corner Mountain timber sale by cutting over 2,500 trees
larger than 24 inches and by logging in a Mexican spotted owl
territory, both violations of both the Gila Forest Plan and the
Spotted Owl Recovery Plan.
Matthew Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center (Taos) is
arguing the case.
FEDERAL LAND SALE CHALLENGED TO SAVE NEW MEXICO
BUTTERFLY FROM EXTINCTION
On 10-15-01, the Center for Biological Diversity appealed a proposal
by the Lincoln National Forest to sell 80 acres of land to the Village of
Cloudcroft in New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains. The Village
intends to use the land, for sports fields, “green belts,” and a
wastewater treatment plant. Three of the five parcels are occupied
habitat for the Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly, an
endemic species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species
Act. The listing resulted from a petition and lawsuit by the Center.
The checkerspot butterfly’s remarkably limited range encompasses a
33 square mile area centered around Cloudcroft. The species
currently occupies only 5,200 acres, approximately 50% of which is
private land open to development. Relying on open meadows
between 8,000 and 9,000 feet in elevation, the checkerspot is
threatened by destruction of habitat from private and commercial
development, livestock grazing, over-collection, and fire suppression.
Fish and Wildlife Service, in its proposed rule, states that the butterfly
is particularly vulnerable to habitat disturbances which could lead to
extinction, explicitly noting the Cloudcroft land sale as a threat.
Despite this precarious, the Forest Service failed to analyze the
implications of trading away occupied butterfly habitat, or consider
the cumulative effects to the butterfly from the intensive residential
and commercial growth occurring in Cloudcroft, which has recently
approved enough development to double the current population of
The development pressures on private land checkerspot habitat
make it imperative that the Forest Service give full protection to all
occupied and suitable butterfly public land habitat. Thus, the Center’s
appeal not only seeks to halt the proposed land sale, but asks the
Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service to immediately and
permanently safeguard all occupied and unoccupied suitable butterfly
habitat on public lands.
GRAZING ON 634,000 ACRES CHALLENGED TO SAVE
ENDANGERED ARIZONA SPECIES
After a yearlong investigation into violations of the Endangered
Species Act on fifty five U.S. Forest Service grazing allotments, the
Center for Biological Diversity and Forest Guardians filed suit on
10-19-01 challenging continued grazing of 13,000 cattle on 633,870
acres of public land in Arizona. The suit seeks to prevent livestock
damage to six endangered species on Coronado, Coconino, and
Tonto National Forests: the Gila topminnow, razorback sucker, Little
Colorado spinedace, lesser long-nosed bat, cactus ferruginous
pygmy owl, and Huachuca water umbel. The Coronado National
Forest is responsible for fifty three of the illegal allotments.
The new suit follows a string of earlier suits which resulted in the
closure of over 250 miles of public rivers to cattle and a host of
mandatory restrictions set by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Despite its continued impact to endangered species and clean water,
the Forest Service has ignored the Fish & Wildlife Service’s
The case is being argued by Kenna and Hickcox of Durango, CO.
Map of illegal grazing allotments:
Copy of lawsuit: