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Stephens' kangaroo rat

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Rare Midwest Dragonfly Earns 26,500 Acres

After two lawsuits by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, last Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service doubled the size of federally protected "critical habitat" for the endangered Hine's emerald dragonfly, upping the acreage from just 13,221 acres to 26,532. The insect, a 2.5-incher renowned for its aerobatic virtuosity and electrifying green eyes, is the only dragonfly on the U.S. endangered species list --and it still has only a few scattered breeding populations remaining in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri. Yet when the feds designated critical habitat for the insect in 2007 -- after we filed suit over a delay -- they slashed their own proposed acreage by half, leaving out key national-forest lands in Michigan and Missouri. So we sued again and earned protection for those lands.

"Thanks to the designation, Hine's emerald dragonflies now have a chance to recover from the brink of extinction," said Center Senior Attorney John Buse. "Protecting habitat is the best way to bring back these spectacular insect predators." The Hine's emerald is primarily threatened by urban and agricultural development, off-road vehicles, road and pipeline construction, logging, and groundwater contamination.

Read more in Courier-Life.

Kangaroo Rat, Wildlife Preserve Saved From Development

With the settlement of a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and San Bernardino Audubon Society, last Thursday the endangered Stephens' kangaroo rat and its Southern California sanctuary were saved from industrial-development doom. Riverside County's 1,100-acre March Stephens' Kangaroo Rat Preserve -- also home to the least Bell's vireo, burrowing owl, southwestern willow flycatcher, and other imperiled species -- was set aside in 1991 for permanent protection. But despite federal officials themselves recognizing the preserve as critical to the survival and recovery of the Stephens' kangaroo rat -- confirmed by the Center through government documents we obtained -- in 2006 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opened the area to commercial and industrial development in exchange for protection of lands some 25 miles away.

Now, under the terms of our settlement agreement, the preserve will be preserved as it should be -- and any future proposals to release it for development must undergo strict environmental review.

Get more from the Southwest Riverside News Network.

Mega-sprawl Challenged for Sake of Birds, Lands, Climate

Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity and San Bernardino Audubon Society filed suit against Riverside County for its approval of the misleadingly named "Villages of Lakeview" -- a massive development of 11,350 homes and 500,000 square feet of commercial space -- for remote lands bordering the San Jacinto Wildlife Area. The sprawling mega-development would require long car commutes -- generating more than 175,000 tons of CO2 emissions -- as well as destroying habitat for many imperiled species, including more than 300 birds, such as the burrowing owl, California gnatcatcher, and yellow-billed cuckoo.

"Putting this many houses this far from jobs will make it harder for California to meet its greenhouse gas-reduction commitments and will worsen traffic congestion and air quality in the region," said Center Senior Attorney Matt Vespa. "We need smart growth and livable communities, not dumb growth miles from jobs." The suit is one of a series brought by the Center to reduce greenhouse gases from new development through the California Environmental Quality Act.

Check out our press release and learn more about our work to uphold the California Environmental Quality Act.

130 Protests Filed Against Harmful Nevada Water Pumping

In defense of wildlands, species, and rural-dwelling people, this month the Center for Biological Diversity submitted 130 protests of water-rights applications for pumping groundwater from some of eastern Nevada's rare spring and riparian areas. The pumping would affect lifestyles and livelihoods in local communities and harm some of the state's most imperiled species, including the Bonneville cutthroat trout; the Moapa dace; the southwestern willow flycatcher; and many species of rare bats, plants, and springsnails. Nevada water agencies filed the water-rights applications more than a decade ago, and the state refused to give concerned citizens access to the hearings on approving those applications. Recently, the Nevada Supreme Court found the state had denied citizens due process and threw out the old applications, forcing the agencies to re-file them and opening the door to citizen protest.

"The biggest threat to the diversity and abundance of Nevada wildlife species is the export of nonrenewable ancient groundwater to fuel the unsustainable growth of far-away cities such as Las Vegas," said the Center's Rob Mrowka, who filed our 130 protests. "But unfortunately, Nevada's water agencies are still seeking to claim water from parts of the state that simply cannot support such water-intensive uses."

Check out our press release and learn about the Moapa dace and southwestern willow flycatcher.

Suit Gathers Force to Save Southwest Forest Species

In defense of at least nine federally protected Southwest species, this week the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Forest Service for continuing to approve projects that destroy their habitats on national-forest land. Five years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a formal "biological opinion" under the Endangered Species Act requiring the Forest Service to monitor the populations and habitat of endangered species on Arizona and New Mexico's 11 national forests, so that they weren't harmed by any destructive activities allowed under the forests' management plans. In October 2008, though, the Forest Service issued a report admitting it hadn't done the monitoring for the last three years . . . and that -- oops -- it might have exceeded the amount of endangered-species harm it's legally allowed to inflict. Then, instead of cleaning up its act, the agency simply requested that the Fish and Wildlife Service redo its biological opinion to accommodate the Forest Service's mistakes. Species affected include the Mexican spotted owl, Chiricahua leopard frog, Apache trout, and ocelot.   

Meanwhile, the Forest Service has begun writing new forest plans for Arizona and New Mexico that roll back protections for imperiled species. A new draft forest plan for Arizona's Coronado National Forest in southeastern Arizona eliminates virtually all forest-wide protective standards for wildlife and habitat.

Get details in our press release and learn more about our work for responsible forest management.

Call In for the Climate: Demand Strong Global Warming Bill

It's not clear at this point whether Senator Lindsey Graham will make good on a promise to torpedo a climate bill he's been working on with John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. This much we do know, however: Their bill falls far short of what is needed to stop runaway global warming. It will allow atmospheric carbon dioxide to rise when we desperately need it to decline to at least 350 parts per million from its current 385 level. It will subsidize and encourage new oil drilling, new nuclear plants, and even new coal-fired power plants. It will provide vast loopholes for corporations to keep emitting dangerous greenhouse gases. And it will strip the Clean Air Act and states of their power to independently regulate greenhouse gases using scientific standards.

In short, the Graham, Kerry, Lieberman bill is no solution. And with a massive oil spill already ravishing the Gulf of Mexico, the last thing we need is to open more areas to offshore drilling.

Please call your senators today and urge them to enact legislation that will actually stop global warming. Call (202) 224-3121 and tell them that adequate global warming legislation must 1) preserve the full regulatory power of the Clean Air Act; 2) reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million; 3) rapidly phase out all coal-fired power plants; and 4) protect our coasts from offshore oil drilling.

The Nationwide Climate Call-in Day is being sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Get talking points for your call on the Center's Events page and learn more about the climate legislation situation.

Tell the Feds to Save the Frogs (and 247 Other Species)

Frogs and salamanders are disappearing. Two hundred species of amphibians have gone extinct in the past 30 years, and one-third of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction -- while the federal government stands idly by. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is still refusing to protect 12 U.S. amphibian species declared to qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act. These amphibians -- five frogs, one toad, and six salamanders -- are languishing on the "candidate" list, waiting indefinitely for the protections they need to survive. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned for full protection for the candidate species in 2004, following up with a lawsuit in 2005; we're still in court to save all 252 animals and plants on the list, before they go extinct -- as 42 species already have due to delays in protection.

Tomorrow, April 30, is Save the Frogs Day: the perfect time to take action. Join our campaign by contacting Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and demanding full Endangered Species Act protection for all candidates, including 12 of our most threatened amphibians. Then learn more about our Candidate Project and Amphibian Conservation campaign.

Center Writer Named Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Center staff writer Lydia Millet, who's also a fiction writer on her own time, was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist last week for her recent short-story collection Love in Infant Monkeys (Soft Skull, 2009). The Pulitzer judges called the book "an imaginative collection of linked stories, often describing a memorable encounter between a famous person and an animal, underscoring the human folly of longing for significance while chasing trifles." Millet was one of three finalists for the United States' best-known literary prize, a runner-up to winner Paul Harding, who won first prize for the novel Tinkers, along with co-finalist Daniyal Mueenuddin, author of In Other Rooms, Other Wonders.

Read more in The New York Times and learn about Love in Infant Monkeys.

Review the Center -- Last Chance to Make Us Your Green Choice

There's no doubt the Center is doing well in the 2010 Green Choice Campaign, a nonprofit-rating contest hosted by organization-reviewing Web site The glowing reviews have been flooding in, and we've been eagerly devouring every single one. Besides giving us helpful feedback on our work and fueling our drive to keep being the best conservation group we can be, your five-star reviews are helping us compete for placement on GreatNonprofits' prestigious list of the top green nonprofits in the country (plus $500 worth of funding). Last year, we won Best in the Southwest.

But if we hope to be dubbed Best in the Universe (or whatever they're calling the top winner), we'll need a lot more reviews -- so keep 'em coming. We promise not to let our egos get too big.

Review us now at

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Stephens' kangaroo rat (c) Mark A. Chappell; Hine's emerald dragonfly (c) Paul Burton; Stephens' kangaroo rat (c) Mark A. Chappell; coastal California gnatcatcher (c) Glen Tepke; Moapa dace courtesy USFWS; Chiricahua leopard frog courtesy Arizona Department of Game and Fish; oil spill courtesy USGS; Oregon spotted frog (c) Charlotte Corkran; Love in Infant Monkeys cover courtesy Soft Skull Press; bald eagle (c) William C. Gladish.

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