We're Suing to Save North Carolina Salamanders and Catfish

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Carolina madtom
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Lawsuit Launched to Save Two North Carolina River-dwellers

Delays can be deadly when it comes to protecting wildlife in trouble — and two river species found only in North Carolina have been waiting more than a decade for help.

That's why the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice this week of our intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We need to force the feds to finalize Endangered Species Act protection for the Carolina madtom — a small catfish fighting for survival in the Tar River basin — and the Neuse River waterdog, an aquatic salamander found only in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins. Both face severe threats from urban sprawl, logging, pollution and factory farming.

"After 10 years of federal inaction, these Carolina treasures can't wait any longer for wildlife officials to do their job," said the Center's Perrin de Jong, a North Carolina-based staff attorney.

Get more.

Carrizo Plain National Monument

We're Suing to Save This Landmark Environmental Law

The National Environmental Policy Act empowers us to protect ourselves and the environment from harmful federal projects. But in a giveaway to corporate interests, the Trump administration has finalized rules that will gut this bedrock environmental law.

So on Wednesday the Center, as part of a nationwide coalition of organizations from the environmental-justice, outdoor and conservation communities, sued the administration over its evisceration of the Act.

"This law was designed to protect the most vulnerable among us and give folks a voice in what happens in their communities," said the Center's Brett Hartl. "It was intended to ensure a healthy environment and safeguard wildlife for generations to come. It was never about making special interests richer — until now. We won't allow the Trump administration's scorched-earth attack on NEPA to stand."

Learn more and consider making a donation to support this fight.

Kemp's ridley sea turtle

Tell Interior: Don't Slash Funding for Rare Sea Turtles

Kemp's ridley sea turtles are the rarest sea turtles in the world — and a recovery program at Padre Island National Seashore in Texas is key to their survival. But now the Trump administration's National Park Service is moving to drastically cut funding for the program, which also helps rescue loggerhead and green sea turtles.

The Turtle Science and Recovery Program at Padre Island has been crucial in protecting turtles and helping with the incubation, hatching and release of baby turtles into the sea each year. In addition to being successful, the program is wildly popular.

Take a moment to tell the Department of the Interior to keep funding this lifesaving program for ancient, iconic sea turtles.

Idaho Plant Wins 42,000 Acres

Slickspot peppergrass

After a lawsuit by the Center, the Fish and Wildlife Service has set aside more than 42,000 acres of habitat for a rare plant species in Idaho called slickspot peppergrass. Although this is about 20,000 acres fewer than were proposed in 2014, it's a huge win for the plant, whose Endangered Species Act protection was challenged by former Idaho Gov. Butch Otter. There are only about 90 occurrences of slickspot peppergrass on Earth.

Read more in the Idaho Press-Tribune.

Morro shoulderband snail

The latest Endangered Species Act success is a Central California coast snail. The Fish and Wildlife Service last week proposed to change the status of the Morro shoulderband snail from "endangered" to "threatened." Found only in the Los Osos and Morro Bay area of western San Luis Obispo County, the snail is thought to have a stable or increasing population and has benefitted from the protection of coastal dune and sage-scrub habitat. Slowly but surely it's recovering.

The Revelator: A Dam Departure

Van Reed Paper Mill Dam

About 200 years ago river advocate Amy Souers Kober's ancestors finished a dam on Pennsylvania's Cacoosing Creek to power a paper mill. Now she works for a group that's tearing the dam down — and, as she writes for The Revelator, turning her family history into a chance for renewal.

Read it and sign up for The Revelator's e-newsletter.

Washington wolf

Fighting for Wolves in Washington State

In the face of ongoing wolf killings in Washington by state officials, the Center and allies have petitioned Gov. Jay Inslee to order the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to draft enforceable rules that limit when the state can kill endangered wolves over conflicts with livestock.

"New rules would save wolves, prevent livestock losses, and provide the accountability the people of Washington deserve in the management of our endangered wolves," said the Center's Sophia Ressler.

The slaughter continues. On Tuesday a female wolf from the Wedge pack was killed. Now just two of the pack's wolves are left, and kill orders for up to two wolves of the Togo wolf family remain in place.

Please give today to our Wolf Defense Fund so we can see this fight through.

March Against Death Alley

Company Must Delay Work on Louisiana Plastics Plant

In heavily polluted St. James Parish, Louisiana, a federal judge just approved Formosa Plastics' agreement to suspend construction of a massive petrochemical complex. Two weeks ago the Center and our local partners filed for an injunction to halt work on the site.

The company agreed last Thursday not to build in areas that may contain the unmarked graves of enslaved people. This concession will help protect the site until the resolution of a lawsuit we filed in January on behalf of RISE St. James, Healthy Gulf and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

"Now that Formosa Plastics has agreed not to disturb graves and wetlands on the site through February 2021, we can focus on this project's deeply flawed approval process," said the Center's Julie Teel Simmonds. "This plant would sicken local residents, degrade wetlands, fuel climate change and send plastic pollution into our rivers and oceans. It violates federal law and should never have been approved."

Learn more.

Train tracks

Liquid Natural Gas by Rail Greenlit, Despite Explosion Risk

This week the Trump administration approved liquefied natural gas (LNG) to be shipped by rail — overruling critics, including the Center, who warn the move could cause deadly explosions. Along with our allies, we'll be fighting the approval in court.

"The Trump administration's reckless LNG rule risks explosions and fires in populated areas. We'll fight to protect our communities from this deadly threat," said Emily Jeffers, a Center attorney. "The fossil fuel industry is desperate to cover its bad bet on fracking by trying to easily move more LNG. Our climate and communities will pay a terrible price if we let these explosive trains roll through our cities and towns."

Read more at The Hill.

Blue lobster

Wild & Weird: Blue Lobster Saved at Red Lobster

Recently staff at a Red Lobster restaurant in Ohio discovered a blue-colored lobster in an airlifted delivery of live American red lobsters. One of the workers texted a photo of the blue crustacean to a manager, who was so taken by its unique coloring that he made sure nobody ate it. Management then contacted the Red Lobster corporate office, which contacted the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program, which contacted the Akron Zoo.

Turns out the blue lobster represents a genetic anomaly that researchers believe occurs in only 1 in every 2 million American lobsters. The blue lobster found at Red Lobster will now live out its life — which we hope will be long, since some lobsters can live for 50 years — in an Akron Zoo aquarium.

Read more at NPR.

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Photo credits: Carolina madtom courtesy USFWS; Carrizo Plain National Monument by Bob Wick/BLM; Kemp's ridley sea turtle via Pixabay; slickspot peppergrass courtesy USFWS; Morro shoulderband snail courtesy USFWS; Van Reed Paper Mill Dam before removal by Jessie Thomas Blate/American Rivers; Washington wolf courtesy WDFW; March Against Death Alley courtesy Louisiana Bucket Brigade; train tracks by jcurtis/Flickr; blue lobster by Richard Wood/Flickr.

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