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Solanum conocarpum

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Emergency Suit Filed to Stop Wolf Killing

Last Thursday, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed an emergency legal motion Idaho and Montana from killing hundreds of wolves. It is the latest move in our ongoing lawsuit to put northern Rockies wolves back on the endangered species list.

Idaho plan to raise an enormous sum of money by selling 70,000 permits to kill 255 wolves through hunting. That's not a typo: 70,000. It would wipe out 30 percent of the state's wolves. Montana has authorized killing 75 wolves -- 15 percent of its total.

Two previous Center lawsuits restored protections to northern Rockies wolves in 2005 and 2008, and our suit for Midwest wolves put them back on the endangered list last month. Meanwhile, we have an ongoing lawsuit to provide greater protections for Mexican gray wolves.

Read more in the Missoulian.

Climate-killing Clearcuts Stopped in California

In response to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, this week timber giant Sierra Pacific Industries abandoned plans to clearcut a sizeable swath of Sierra Nevada forest -- and emit way too much carbon-dioxide pollution in the process. Earlier this month, the Center filed a trio of suits against the California Department of Forestry for illegally approving three of the company's logging plans without analyzing the greenhouse gases the logging would cause. The three projects would have decimated more than 1,600 acres of forest and spewed out tons of CO2 -- though of course we can't know just how many tons, since we have no emissions analysis to go by. Sierra Pacific's move is a big victory for the Sierra Nevada and the climate, but the Center is keeping a close eye on the company, which is still harboring plans for more than two dozen other climate-changing clearcutting projects.

"Clearcutting is an abysmal practice that should have been banned long ago due to its impacts on wildlife and water quality," said Center Public Lands Director Brendan Cummings. "Now, in an era where all land-management decisions need to be fully carbon conscious, there is simply no excuse to continue to allow clearcutting in California."

Read more in the Daily Journal.

300-plus Groups Demand Stronger Climate Bill

This Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity led more than 320 organizations in sending a letter to senators calling for a strong energy and climate bill -- much stronger than the one passed by the House this summer. That bill had small goals and big loopholes that would hinder a fast transition to clean energy and give us a 50/50 chance of suffering catastrophic global warming. Our letter asks for legislation that reduces atmospheric CO2 levels to 350 parts per million or below, keeps the Clean Air Act intact, minimizes loopholes and eliminates polluter giveaways, promotes abundant clean energy, and protects vulnerable communities. All while fulfilling U.S. commitments to the rest of the world. Next week, we'll be personally delivering the letter to senators in D.C.

"The organizations that signed on to our letter represent a broad array of environmental, environmental-justice, faith, indigenous, and social-justice groups from across the country," declared the Center's Climate Campaign Coordinator Rose Braz, who spearheaded the effort. "It's a real testament to the magnitude of grassroots mobilization for a strong bill -- not just any bill."

Read more on our letter in Newsweek, and if you belong to an organization, you can still sign on now.

Protections Budding for Caribbean Plants

After two Center for Biological Diversity lawsuits, two near-extinct plants on the Virgin Islands -- Agave eggersiana and Solanum conocarpum -- may finally receive Endangered Species Act protection. Almost 13 years after petitions to protect the plants were first filed, last week the Center reached a settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service setting a timeline for the agency to decide on protections. Agave eggersiana, which lives only on the island of St. Croix, is a perennial herb with large, funnel-shaped flowers and can grow up to 16 to 23 feet tall. The thornless, flowering shrub Solanum conocarpum is found only on the island of St. John and is down to about 220 plants. Habitat for both species was first gobbled up by intense deforestation for cotton and sugar-cane cultivation. Now residential and commercial development, as well as grazing by feral animals, also threaten the plants.

Read more in the Virgin Islands Daily News.

1,200 Tortoises Could Perish in Desert Exodus -- Please Help

Though hundreds of desert tortoises died last year in a mass-tortoise-relocation disaster, the feds have proposed yet another forced exodus -- for twice as many tortoises. In 2008, more than 600 threatened tortoises in the Mojave Desert were "relocated" to make way for the expansion of the Fort Irwin Army base into prime tortoise habitat. A shocking 252 tortoises have died, and after the Center for Biological Diversity sued, the project was suspended last fall. But now the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Army have proposed to move about 1,200 more tortoises to ease the fort's expansion. Already threatened by disease, development, crushing by vehicles, and more, these reptiles can't afford more deaths.

Originally, the Bureau and Army gave the public only 15 days to comment on the plan. But after receiving more than 24,000 comments -- an amazing 22,700-plus of them from Center supporters -- the deadline has been extended to August 31. This shows the big impact you all can have -- and why it's crucial to keep taking action.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times and take action for tortoises today.

Judge Blasts Efforts to Curb Mountaintop Removal

Dealing a bad blow to lands and people near mountains blown up for coal, this month a federal judge blocked an Obama administration move to rein in mountaintop removal coal mining. The judge decided in favor of a Bush administration directive that scrapped the "stream buffer-zone rule," which prohibited stream-harming mining within 100 feet of streams.  The rule was a first step toward preventing mountaintop-removal coal mining, a highly destructive practice that explodes the tops off mountains and dumps debris directly into waterways. The Obama administration rightly asked the court to overturn Bush's rule, but the effort was shot down last Wednesday. Also last week, the Environmental Protection Agency approved yet another permit for a mountaintop-removal project -- this one predicted to fill eight valleys with mining waste. That makes 43 out of 48 permits approved, despite the agency's vows to scrutinize them to the letter of the law.

As expressed by Appalachian native and Center for Biological Diversity biologist Tierra Curry, "Given the ongoing failure of the EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act in Appalachia, it's time for the Obama administration to stop talkin' just to hear its brains rattle and pass new federal regulations that prohibit mountaintop removal mining."

Read more in The Washington Independent and take action against mountaintop removal now.

Help Stop Plunder of Bluefin Tuna

The western Atlantic bluefin tuna, one of the fastest fish in the ocean, is also on a fast track toward extinction -- and a new federal proposal would speed its demise.

Despite the fact that this tuna could be extinct within 10 years, the National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed to let Gulf of Mexico commercial fisheries increase their use of pelagic longline gear -- dozens of miles of fishing line boasting hundreds of hooks -- to catch swordfish and yellowfin tuna, snagging bluefins in the process (not to mention other at-risk ocean swimmers). Though the bluefin tuna weighs in at three-quarters of a ton, reaches 10 feet in length, and can zoom through the water at up to 50 miles per hour, it's no match for deadly longlines. And the Gulf of Mexico is its only known spawning ground.

The Center for Biological Diversity is dedicated to protecting ocean species and ecosystems from overfishing and bad fishery practices, and we need your help to tell the Fisheries Service it should ban -- not expand -- pelagic longline fishing in the Gulf.

Take action now and learn more about our fisheries campaign.

Extinction Crisis Worsens . . .  Just in Time for Year of Biodiversity

2010 has been declared by the United Nations to be the International Year of Biodiversity. It's also the year the UN set as a target for "significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss." Will that goal be met? Fat chance, confirmed a European Commission conference that met in Athens this year. In fact, we're in the middle of the world's sixth mass extinction event, and it's only getting worse. Globally, 12 percent of mammals and birds, about a third of reptiles and amphibians, and 37 percent of fish are threatened with extinction.

The situation in Japan is a prime example. Thanks to development, invasive species, chemical contamination, and other threats, nearly a quarter of Japan's mammals and plants -- and more than a third of freshwater, estuarine, and mangrove-dwelling fish -- are threatened with extinction.

More people, more pollution, more habitat loss, more extinction: That's the message of a television ad the Center is creating to promote the International Year of Biodiversity and educate people about the extinction crisis.

Contribute to getting our ad on television and see videos of the last Laysan rails and honeycreepers.

Then check out our Web page on the extinction crisis and learn how it's playing out in Japan in the Japan Times.

Inflatable Love Dolls of the Floral World

Flowers are attractive, sure, but . . . sex objects for bugs? Thanks to the wonders of evolution, some orchids have made themselves look like ideal mates for pollinating bees and wasps. The Ophrys orchid, for one, has evolved to look just like a female bee's rear end protruding from a green flower, enticing male bees to . . . to do what male bees do -- and in the process, spread the orchid's pollen around. The flower of the tongue orchid does such a good female wasp impression that male wasps actually release sperm onto its petals before flying off to spread pollen to other orchids. And according to orchid-pollination expert Michael Pollan (yes, that's pronounced pollen), trying to have one's way "with anything that moves" is a good reproductive strategy for the wasps, too -- even if the object of desire is just blowing in the wind.

Pollan calls these orchids the "inflatable love dolls of the floral kingdom." We call them crafty devils.

Listen to details on National Public Radio.

KierĂ¡n Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Solanum conocarpum (c) Robin Cooley; gray wolf courtesy NPS; clearcutting courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Vmenkov under the GNU free documentation license; power plant by Phillip J. Redman, USGS; Agave eggersiana by Robin Cooley; desert tortoise by Beth Jackson, USFWS; mountaintop removal site courtesy Wikimedia Commons/JW Randolph; bluefin tuna courtesy Wikimedia Commons/OpenCage under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license; black rhino courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Yorky under the GNU free documentation license; bee courtesy Wikimedia Commons under the GNU free documentation license.

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