Biodiversity Activist #320
BIOLOGIST NAMED "FOREST ACTIVIST OF THE YEAR"
Center for Biological Diversity
biologist Monica Bond has been awarded Environment Now's "Forest Activist
of the Year" award. Before joining the Center, Monica studied California
spotted owls in the El Dorado National Forest. She has been instrumental in
challenging damaging timber sales in the Sierra Nevada and developing a comprehensive
management plan alternative for the four Southern California National Forests.
Monica will be honored at
a fundraising dinner in Los Angeles next month. The fundraiser will benefit
the Environment and Protection Information Center (EPIC), the John Muir Project,
and Sequoia Forest Keepers.
UPHOLDS FISHING RESTRICTIONS IN HIGH SEAS- 2.6 MILLION SQUARE MILE FISHING BAN
REMAINS IN PLACE
In 1999, the National Marine
Fisheries Service (NMFS) banned pelagic longline fishing in 2.6 million nautical
square miles of international waters off the New England coast. The fishery
uses thousands of miles of fishing cable inset with tens of thousands of hooks.
In addition to the target species- swordfish, tuna, and mahi mahi- the longlines
catch and kill thousands of non-target fish, including endangered loggerhead
and leatherback sea turtles. NMFS closed the fishery, which is outside United
States' 200 mile "exclusive economic zone" to protect the sea turtles.
The fishing industry sued,
arguing that NMFS has no authority to regulate fishing on the high seas. The
industry wants international waters to remain a lawless zone governed only by
industry competition. Before the fishing ban, pelagic longliners in the closed
area were responsible for 75% of loggerhead sea turtle and 40% of leatherback
sea turtle take. 991 loggerheads and 1,012 leatherbacks were killed in the area
The Center for Biological
Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration, and Ocean intervened in the lawsuit, arguing
that the federal government has the right and the responsibility to curb unsustainable
practices by the U.S. fishing industry, even in international waters. The judge
agreed, ordering that the ban remain in place.
the Center's marine Program.
ACRES PROTECTED FOR KNEELAND PRAIRIE PENNY-CRESS
In keeping with a legal
agreement brokered by the Center for Biological Diversity and the California
Native Plant Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 74 acres
as a protected "critical habitat" area for the endangered Kneeland
prairie penny-cress (Thlaspi californicum) on 10-9-02.
A member of the mustard
family, the penny-cress is endemic to serpentine soil on the outer north coast
range of Humboldt County, CA. About 8,000 plants remain in a single, fragmented
site near the Kneeland Airport. The total area occupied by the plant is less
than an acre. It is threatened by continued habitat fragmentation, degradation,
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service designated the penny-cress as a "candidate" for Endangered
Species Act protection in 1980, but took no action to actually protect it despite
continued habitat fragmentation until it was sued by the Center and the California
Native Plant Society in 1999. The suit resulted in the penny-cress and nine
other plants being listed as endangered species in 2000. Another 101,027 acres
of critical habitat for the other nine species will be finalized in the next
Since 1995, the Center has
won the protection of 38 million acres of critical habitat in the western U.S.
from Alaska to Texas.
the Center's Native Plant Conservation Campaign.
ACRES PROPOSED TO PROTECT VENTURA MARSH MILK-VETCH
In keeping with a legal
agreement brokered by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service proposed to designated 420 acres of critical habitat for the
Ventura Marsh milk-vetch (Astragalus pycnostachyus var. lanosissimus) on 10-9-02.
The milk-vetch occurs in
just one natural population on less than half an acre in the midst of a proposed
300-home coastal development near Oxnard, CA. It formerly occurred in coastal
wetlands in Ventura, Orange, and Los Angeles counties. The critical habitat
proposal includes the development as well as portions of McGrath State Beach
and the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve.
The Ventura Marsh milk-vetch
is one of thousands of plants lingering without protection for decades despite
a petition filed by the Smithsonian Institution in 1975 to list them as endangered
species. Rather than listing the plants, the Fish and Wildlife Service bounced
them around its "candidate" program like Oliver Twist from orphanage
to the orphanage. The milk-vetch and many other plants continued to suffer habitat
loss while left unprotected on the candidate list. At one point the remains
of the only known plants were found in lawn mower clippings at McGrath State
The Center filed suit in
1999 to protect the plant, winning a listing decision in 2001 and this month's
critical habitat area proposal. The final critical habitat designation will
be completed by 10-1-03.
the Center's Native Plant Conservation Campaign.
AGREE TO PROTECT PACIFIC ISLANDS DUGONG, THREE AFRICAN ANTELOPES
In the early 1990s, the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect the Pacific Islands dugong,
the scimitar-horned oryx, addax, and Dama gazelle as endangered species. The
dugong is a marine mammal similar to a manatee. It inhabits shallow, tropical,
marine coastal waters and is more strictly a marine species than the manatee.
It is a flagship species for efforts to protect dwindling sea grass beds in
Palau. The oryx, addax, and gazelle are types of African antelope threatened
by habitat loss, development, and hunting.
When the Wildlife Service
failed to finalize the protection of these species under the Endangered Species
Act, the Center for Biological Diversity formally filed notice that it would
take legal action. This has resulted in an agreement whereby the agency will
initiate a scientific review, begin a public comment process, and make a final
decision on the protection of the species by September 30, 2003.
TO DEFEND GOVERNMENT HABITAT POLICY AGAINST INDUSTRY ATTACK
In response to a Center
for Biological Diversity lawsuit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated
1,148 river miles (=127,000 acres) of critical habitat in NM, TX, and OK for
the Arkansas River shiner on 3-30-02. Portions of the Canadian River, Beaver
River, Cimarron River, and Arkansas River were included in the designation.
Industry groups with vested
interests in maintaining the status quo of pollution, dams, water diversions,
and unsustainable pumping have filed suit against the Bush administration to
strike down the protected status. They expect Bush to give up without a fight,
agreeing to remove protection for the rivers. The Bush administration has developed
a cozy relationship with industry lawyers in which it encourages anti-environmental
lawsuits, then quickly gives up protections enacted by the Clinton administration.
A federal judge, however,
has granted the Center for Biological Diversity permission to "intervene"
in the lawsuit to defend the government and the Arkansas River shiner against
the industry challenge and the Bush administration's almost certain decision
not to defend itself. The Center will be represented by Matt Kenna of Kenna
& Hickcox (Durango).
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