Subject: SW BIODIVERSITY ALERT #77
SOUTHWEST BIODIVERSITY ALERT #77
SOUTHWEST CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
silver city, tucson, phoenix, san diego
1. MEDIA: TUCSONAN PROTEST TREE-CUTTING ON CANYON'S NORTH RIM
2. MEDIA: ENVIRONMENTALISTS SUE IN BID TO PROTECT RIVERS
3. COURT ORDERS PROTECTION OF GNATCATCHER HABITAT- ANOTHER BLOW
TO CLINTON ADMIN. USE OF VOLUNTARY AGREEMENTS TO CIRCUMVENT ESA
*** *** *** ***
MEDIA: TUCSONANS PROTEST TREE-CUTTING ON CANYON'S NORTH RIM
The following article appeared in the Tucson Citizen on May 22,
Tucsonans protest tree-cutting on Canyon's North Rim by Rhonda
Protesters from a Tucson-based environmental group stormed a
ranger station yesterday near the Grand Canyon and locked
themselves together by the neck to demand the Forest Service halt a
logging project on the North Rim.
Two people ended up on the roof of the Kaibab National Forest
ranger station near Fredonia, just south of the Utah border, and
displayed a banner that stated, "Stop clear-cutting the Grand
Fiver others locked themselves together at their necks with bicycle
U- locks- lying on the lobby floor in a pinwheel formation with heads
toward the center - making it difficult for police to drag them away.
About 25 other protesters talked to tourists in the parking lot about a
timber salvage of 3,500 acres. The land which borders Grand Canyon
National Park, was part of 53,000 acres burned last summer.
"The environmental laws were bypassed with this timber sale, and the
people were shut out of the decision making process for the forest
they love. This is our last recourse," said Michael Robinson, a
spokesperson for the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity.
The protest followed a four-day seminar on civil disobedience
sponsored by the Montana-based Ruckus Society.
Robinson said the decision to protest was made around a campfire
Tuesday night, with the only debate being whether to protest in
the forest to stop the logging trucks themselves or whether to
"occupy" the ranger station where the decisions are made.
Virginia Gibbons, a public affairs specialist with the North Kaibab
Ranger District, said officials planned to negotiate with the protesters
because they were peaceful.
But she said the situation escalated about three hours later when it
was time to close and the protesters refused to leave.
Gibbons said the office offered a meeting with regional decision-
makers out of the Albuquerque office, but said the protesters would
not disperse without assurance that their concerns would be
One of the protesters on the roof voluntarily descended and was
arrested. The second did not and had to be taken down from the roof.
Robinson said the police officer sprayed one of the locked-together
protesters with Lysol. The woman was given oxygen after having an
allergic reaction, but she refused to leave to get medical attention.
The Town Marshall's office in Fredonia, near the Utah border, did not
return calls seeking comment.
Robinson was disturbed by the law officer's tactics, because he said
the protesters were passive and non-violent.
The Forest Service contends it is allowing the dead and dying trees to
be cut in an effort to reseed the area faster, but the Southwest Center
has appealed two of the largest timber sales.
The Center said the Forest Service has overestimated the mortality
rates of the trees, and that the sale will leave an ugly scar and destroy
A decision on the appeals has been reached, but Dave Clark, a
spokesperson for the Kaibab District, refused to release it until today.
Clark said about 50 people protested the sale in October, distributing
stickers that said, "Salvage logging sucks" and waiving placards that
stated, "Don't kill the Kaibab." Protesters left after being asked
several times, he said.
_____ _____ _____ _____
MEDIA: ENVIRONMENTALISTS SUE IN BID TO PROTECT RIVERS
The following article appeared in the Silver City Sun-News on May
22, 1997. A similar A.P. article appeared in the Albuquerque Journal.
Environmentalists sue in bid to protect rivers
ALBUQUERQUE - A lawsuit filed Wednesday by an
environmentalist group alleges three New Mexican national forests
failed to take steps to protect rivers within forest boundaries.
The Southwest Center for Biological Diversity says about 300 miles
of river on those forests are eligible for protection from dam
building, road encroachment, mining and logging. The Tucson,
Arizona-based group contends the forests failed to monitor
eligibility of the rivers for federal protection.
It based its claim on the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The
lawsuit, filed here in U.S. District Court names as defendants the
Cibola, Lincoln, and Gila national forests.
Art Morrison, spokesperson at the U.S. Forest Service's Southwest
regional office in Albuquerque, said the agency had not received the
lawsuit, and he couldn't comment on it.
However, Morrison also said river protection proposals, among
numerous matters, can be submitted during forest plan revisions.
He said the Cibola is currently undergoing the revision process, the
Gila forest plans to start the process later this year and the Lincoln
is scheduled for it in 1998.
Southwest Center spokesman Kieran Suckling said Congress created
the law to balance dam building and other national forest construction
projects with recreation and conservation.
"We're losing recreational opportunities, archeological sites, clean
water, and endangered species," Suckling said. "There is no excuse
for ignoring America's most important river protection law."
However, Morrison said unless Congress designates a stretch of river
as wild, the protected designation would allow limited logging,
mining, and other activities.
"The real purpose of the law is to maintain free-flowing ecology
associated with rivers," he said. "It has more to do with dams and
recreation, fisheries and riparian issues."
The Southwest Center identified several New Mexico rivers and
tributaries for possible inclusion:
* Cibola National Forest: Las Huertas Creek, Juan Tabo Creek,
Canon Media, Water Canyon, Indian Creek, Lobo Creek.
* Gila National Forest: Gila River (west, east and middle forks),
Sapillo Creek, Mogollon Creek, White Water Creek, Trout Creek.
* Lincoln National Forest: Sacramento River, Rio Penasco, Agua
Chiquita Creek, Blue Water Creek.
Suckling said the lawsuit seeks to protect about 150 miles of river in
the Gila National Forest, and about 75 miles in each of the other two.
If protection is recommended, it's not guaranteed. Morrison said while
the Forest Service can recommend rivers for federal protection, only
Congress enacts such protection.
Morrison said a 1993 study of Arizona determined 1,290 miles of
river and stream in national forests were eligible for possible
protection, but only 700 miles were recommended for protection.
At present, only 46 miles in Arizona are actually protected he said.
But Morrison said Congress never funded a special study for New
Mexico unlike Arizona.
In New Mexico, Morrison estimated there could be as many as 2,300
miles of river and stream eligible for possible protection.
Currently there are 35 miles of protected rivers within New Mexico
national forests, including parts of the Chama, Rio Grande, east fork
of the Jemez River, and the Pecos River, Morrison said.
Attorneys from the Taos-based Western Environmental Law Center
have take the case and won't charge for its services, Suckling.
"People who do not like more protection won't like this act," he said.
"But it won't have a huge or new impact on the way we're protecting
The act's application could have an effect on cattle grazing on public
lands, Suckling said, based on a similar lawsuit brought to federal
court in Oregon.
"Up to recently, cattle grazing was not considered under this law," he
said. "The Oregon case said cattle could be removed from a river."
Officials from the Gila national forest said they could not comment
about pending litigation.
_____ _____ _____ _____
COURT ORDERS PROTECTION OF GNATCATCHER HABITAT- ANOTHER BLOW TO
CLINTON ADMIN. USE OF VOLUNTARY AGREEMENTS TO CIRCUMVENT ESA
In a 2-1 vote, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must designate critical habitat for
the threatened California gnatcatcher. It rejected an argument by the
Service that the Natural Communities Conservation Program is a substitute
for formally protected critical habitat under the ESA. According to the
"The NCCP alternative cannot be viewed as a functional substitute for
critical habitat designation. CH designation triggers mandatory
consultation requirements for federal agency actions involving CH.
The NCCP alternative, in contrast is purely a voluntary program that
applies only to non-federal land-use activities. The Service itself
recognized at the time of its final listing decision that 'no
substantive protection of the coastal Cali gnatcatcher is currently
provided by city/county enrollments in the NCCP."
The designation of critical habitat has the potential to alter the
recently completed San Diego Multi-Species Conservation Plan.
The lawsuit was brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC). Separate petitions to list the California gnatcatcher under
the ESA were filed by Dave Hogan, Desert Rivers Coordinator for the
Southwest Center and by NRDC.
Kieran Suckling firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director 520.733.1391 phone
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity 520.733.1404 fax
http://www.envirolink.org/orgs/sw-center pob 17839, tucson, az 85731