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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 804, Dec. 10, 2015

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The Pressure Mounts: Another Fossil Fuel Lease Sale Halted

Keep It in the Ground rallyFor the second time in two months, the Obama administration has pushed back a planned sale of oil and gas leases on public lands. The latest halt came on Monday, when the Bureau of Land Management called off an auction in Washington, D.C., in the face of plans by climate protesters (including the Center for Biological Diversity) to rally outside the sale. A similar lease sale was cancelled in Salt Lake City in November.

The Center and local activists also took to the streets in Reno, Nev., on Tuesday to protest a lease sale there -- part of a growing "Keep It in the Ground" movement across the country. Why? Halting new fossil fuel lease sales on America's public lands and offshore areas would keep up to 450 billion tons of carbon pollution out of the atmosphere. The timing is particularly important as world leaders gather in Paris to hammer out a global climate agreement.

"If the administration can't handle the optics of auctioning fossil fuels while negotiating a climate deal in Paris, it shouldn't be auctioning off fossil fuels at all," said the Center's Taylor McKinnon.

Thanks to all of you who came out to protests. Check out these photos and read more about D.C. and Reno; then stay tuned for how you can help at the next rally.

Don't Let Congress Sell Out Wolves -- Take Action

WolfThings are getting ugly in Congress this week as lawmakers try to arrive at a budget deal to keep the government from shutting down. Attached to this year's Interior spending bill are more than 100 policy riders, including 17 pushed by Republicans that would weaken or remove protections for endangered species. Among the most troubling: provisions that would end Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes states. Another would incentivize a fracking boom by lifting a crude oil export ban that has been in place since the 1970s.

We need your help this week to stop these damaging "riders" from being included in a final, must-pass spending bill.

Please take two minutes to call your senators today and urge them to push for a clean budget deal -- no backroom dealings.

Endangered Species Act Success: Rare West Coast Fish Declared Recovered

Modoc suckerThe Modoc sucker -- a small, fleshy-lipped fish now dwelling in 12 California and Oregon waterways -- has just become the second fish ever to be declared sufficiently recovered to be removed from the U.S. endangered species list. Due to habitat restoration -- including fencing livestock out of its native tributaries and removing invasive fish -- the species' population has doubled since 1985, when only about 1,300 individuals existed in the world.

"The Endangered Species Act successfully prevented the extinction of the Modoc sucker and spurred habitat restoration that has allowed this native fish to recover," said the Center's Jeff Miller. "But given climate trends and increasing likelihood of drought, the status of the species will need to be monitored closely." Accordingly the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to watch the sucker's status for another decade to make sure its population remains stable.

The Modoc sucker's removal from the endangered species list closely follows the recovery of the Oregon chub in February of this year.

Read more in Scientific American.

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Will World Leaders Do What's Needed in Paris?

Center staff in ParisThe Center's team in Paris has been working hard this week to urge world leaders to take action that matches the magnitude of the global climate crisis. As talks enter their final stages at the United Nations Conference of the Parties 21, we've been protesting, speaking on panels, and working with media to elevate the message that we must have faster, bigger, bolder actions than anything proposed so far.

In particular we've been calling on world leaders to keep fossil fuels in the ground, as well as to include the aviation sector as a crucial source of emissions when considering CO
2 reductions. We also hounded California Gov. Jerry Brown with a very public message: If he's serious about being a climate leader, he needs to show it back home by halting fracking and dangerous oil drilling.

World leaders haven't yet embraced the ambitious, legally binding climate agreements we truly need. But momentum is growing, and during the Paris summit (and long after), the Center will keep pushing for real action to avert climate chaos.

Learn more and follow our live Twitter feed at our webpage To Paris and Beyond.

'Water Hog' Project Highlights Water Waste's Impacts on Wildlife

Water hogA new Center education campaign, in partnership with Levi Strauss & Co., encourages people to save water for wildlife by identifying the nation's top water-hogging counties and U.S. households' most wasteful water-use activities. Our "Don't Be a Drip" website is geared toward raising awareness about how water consumption affects endangered species.

The campaign website includes an interactive map of high water-use counties -- the majority of which are in California, though Arizona's Maricopa County (Phoenix) is No. 1 -- and an infographic showing the water footprint of common household activities.

"It's easy to forget that every time you turn on the tap, that water is coming from rivers, lakes and streams that wildlife depend on," said Stephanie Feldstein, the Center's population and sustainability director. "The reality is that water is a finite resource, and careless human water consumption is altering our ecosystems, destroying natural habitats and sapping water sources for birds, fish, mammals and other wildlife."

Check out the new Don't Be a Drip website.

Doug Tompkins: In Memoriam

Doug TompkinsDoug Tompkins loved wilderness and wildlife as few others do. He devoted the past few decades of his life to exploring and preserving a vast swath of coast, forest, mountains and grasslands in the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina. It was in these mountains, on glacial General Carrera Lake, that he died this week in a kayak accident. He was 72 years old.

Tompkins made a fortune founding The North Face, then later Esprit clothing. He spent that fortune on conservation, first in the United States, where his Foundation for Deep Ecology was the Center for Biological Diversity's first funder, and later in South America.

Tompkins and his life partner Kris McDivitt Tompkins purchased 2.1 million acres in Patagonia, creating five new national parks, two new provincial parks, and managing the 715,000 acre Pumalín Park, the largest private nature reserve in the world. In coming years Pumalín will be donated as a national park as well, leveraging other lands to form a several-million-acre wilderness.

Goodbye, Doug. I'll think of you, as I often do, whenever I kayak Sonora's El Himalaya coast -- wondering who will have the daring and commitment to preserve it forever, for future generations of wildlife and people, as a national park.

New Rules Proposed to Better Protect Florida Manatees -- Take Action

Florida manateeThanks to efforts by the Center and allies, the Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to revise its wildlife-viewing regulations at Three Sisters Springs in Florida's Kings Bay, the only place in the United States where people can swim with manatees.

The current draft rule proposes to limit the number of people allowed in the manatees' vital wintering sanctuary -- which is a move in the right direction but doesn't go far enough. People should not be allowed in the water with manatees during the coldest months of the year, when these creatures are fighting for survival. It's well past time for this disruption to stop, especially with so many manatee-viewing spots just feet away from the water.

Act now to urge the Service to make Three Sisters Springs a true winter refuge by designating Nov. 15 to March 31 a period each year when people can only view manatees from the nearby boardwalk. Your comments are due by Dec. 18.

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Rare, Plush-furred Mammals Reintroduced to Washington State -- Watch Video

Pacific fisherA victory for fishers came on Sunday when seven of these small but fierce forest mammals -- related to minks and weasels -- were taken from captivity in Canada and released in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southern Washington. It's the first step of a relocation and monitoring effort by our allies at Conservation Northwest, along with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The program started when 90 fishers were released in the Olympic range in 2008–2010.

The just-released fishers -- four females and three males -- zipped out of their transport boxes as soon as they could, into their old forest home. Fishers are native to Washington and once abounded there, but were hurt by trapping and loss of habitat from logging and development.

With short legs, long bushy tails and tiny, round ears, these animals are only about the size of cats -- but they're among the very few creatures in the world that can eat porcupines. Soon we hope they'll rule the Northwest forests again.

Read more and watch a video of the release at The Seattle Times.

Wild & Weird: Watch Greenland Melt From Paris

Ice sculptureWhile delegates from around the world negotiate in Paris over a plan to curb climate change, one art installation -- 12 giant blocks of melting Greenland ice arranged in the shape of a clock in the Place du Panthéon -- offers a reminder of what's at stake should the Paris talks fail. Like Arctic ice, time is running out for an international solution.

Artist Olafur Eliasson, with the aid of divers and dockworkers, transported the 80 tons of ice from free-flowing icebergs in a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland.

"I hope (this) work of art can actually bridge the gap between the data, the scientists, the politicians and heads of state and how normal people feel," Eliasson told Reuters on Thursday.

Get more from Reuters and check out great photos of the installation at #IceWatchParis on Instagram.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Reno protest courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Rune Jensen; Modoc sucker courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Joe Tomelleri; wolves by John Pitcher; Center staff in Paris courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; water hog art by Shawn DiCriscio; Doug Tompkins courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Sam Beebe; manatee courtesy Flickr/Bill Serne; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Pacific fisher courtesy Flickr/Bethany Weeks; ice sculpture courtesy Flickr/UNclimatechange.

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