Win for California's Iconic Joshua Trees

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Joshua tree
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California's Joshua Trees Gain Legal Protection

California's iconic Joshua trees are threatened by climate change, fire and habitat destruction from urban sprawl and other development. If we don't do something, it's likely they'll vanish from Joshua Tree National Park by the end of the century.

So we petitioned to protect western Joshua trees under California's Endangered Species Act — and on Tuesday the state Fish and Game Commission accepted our petition. This will help protect them for at least a year while a final decision is made.

"This is a huge victory for the beautiful trees and their fragile desert ecosystem," said Brendan Cummings, the Center for Biological Diversity's conservation director and a Joshua Tree resident. "If Joshua trees are to survive the inhospitable climate we're giving them, the most important thing we can do is protect their habitat."

If you spoke up for Joshua trees through a recent Center action alert, thank you. You made a difference.

Learn more and consider donating to our fight to protect public lands and Joshua Tree National Park's wildlife and wildlands.

In Memoriam: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

We're heartbroken at the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ginsburg was a tireless champion of women's rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and every person's right to live in a fairer, kinder society. She was also one of the court's strongest voices for protecting our environment. In the famous case Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw, she upheld the fundamental right of environmental groups to bring lawsuits against polluters and hold our government accountable when it doesn't follow the law.

"Justice Ginsburg possessed everything a Supreme Court justice should: a brilliant mind, a compassionate heart and a relentless drive to create a better, more just world for all," said the Center's executive director, Kierán Suckling. "We're deeply saddened by her loss but heartened to know the world is profoundly better because she was here. Her light will continue to shine for generations to come."

Rusty patched bumblebee

Wins for Milkvetch, Mole Skinks and Bumblebee

Our work for the survival of rare and vanishing species saw wins in Colorado, Florida and Minnesota this week.

In Colorado the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protection for a delicate, beautiful wildflower called the Chapin Mesa milkvetch, with 3,635 acres of critical habitat.

In Miami — where the Center filed suit in 2019 to compel protection for Florida Keys mole skinks — a judge last Wednesday ordered the Service to reconsider safeguarding this rare, pink-tailed lizard gravely threatened by sea-level rise.

And we reached an agreement with the city of Minnetonka, Minnesota, to protect endangered rusty patched bumblebees at Lone Lake Park, the site of a planned multi-use mountain-bike trail.

Franklin tree

How Many North American Plant Species Have Gone Extinct?

The Caddo false foxglove. The pale bugseed. The largeleaf leather-root.

These are just a few of the plant species and varieties that have gone extinct in the continental United States and Canada since European colonization.

A new paper identifies 65 plant extinctions in North America — but that's probably just a fraction of what we've lost. Learn more at The Revelator.

And here's something you can do to help prevent more extinctions: Tell the Fish and Wildlife Service to end delays for 72 imperiled plants waiting for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Tucson shovel-nosed snake

In Memoriam: Phil Rosen

Research scientist and herpetologist Dr. Phil Rosen, who spent decades tirelessly studying the status and ecology of the Southwest's snakes, turtles, lizards and fish, passed away Friday.

Phil helped the Center obtain protection for several imperiled species, including Chiricahua leopard frogs, northern Mexican garter snakes and narrow-headed garter snakes. Based largely on work he did, today we submitted a new petition to protect imperiled Tucson shovel-nosed snakes under the Endangered Species Act.

Phil was a generous scientist who willingly shared his extensive knowledge with anyone willing to listen — always in the service of saving the scaly, finned and shelled creatures of the world. He'll be sorely missed.

Food Justice Film Festival

Starting Today: Our Food Justice Film Festival

The Center's Food Justice Film Festival — a free online program — starts today and runs through Sunday.

The films explore the links between environmental justice, climate change, food insecurity and white supremacy. Grassroots community activists are creating inspiring movements to resist our unjust food system, as these works highlight.

The featured films are "Gather," "Invisible Vegan," "Dolores" and "Urban Roots." Accompanying each will be a national speaker panel of activists, organizers and directors discussing topics including urban gardens, farmworkers' rights and plant-based food movements.

Watch trailers and sign up to receive a link unlocking access to each film for 24 hours on the day of its screening.

Mountain lion

The Reviews Are In! We're a Great Nonprofit

Since we asked for your kudos on the nonprofit-rating site GreatNonprofits.org earlier this month, we've been gratified to see just how much you value the Center's work. You helped make us the third-most reviewed organization on the site, with 1,200 rave reviews by folks across the world, earning us our 2020 five-star rating.

"Without this organization, our planet would be in even more trouble than it already is. … I am happy to donate to them whenever I can," says one supporter. "You simply couldn't find a better conservation or environmental organization to support and put your faith in," says another. And so many of you love our communications — like the newsletter you're reading now.

Thank you. Your praise helps fuel our mission to stick up for animals, plants and wild places across the globe.

You can read our reviews — and review us if you haven't — at the Great Nonprofits website.

Mother and baby

How Breastfeeding Helps the Planet

Did you know that breastfeeding when possible — rather than using dairy formula — supports planetary as well as human health?

Producing formula from dairy cattle requires an excessive amount of water and land, while leaving behind an unsustainable amount of toxic manure and greenhouse gas. Cattle grazing hurts habitat and leads to the extinction of native wildlife. And the cans, bottles and plastic used to package formula products end up in landfills and oceans.

Learn more in this Sustainability Times op-ed written by the Center's Jennifer Molidor and Jovita Lee, along with experts from La Leche League International and the World Breastfeeding Alliance.

Baboon

Wild & Weird: Male Baboons With Female Friends Live Longer

Drawing on 35 years of data from Kenya's Amboseli National Park, researchers have discovered that male baboons with strong female friendships were 28% more likely to make it to their next birthday than their socially isolated counterparts.

Senior study author Susan Alberts, chair of the evolutionary anthropology department at Duke University, believes the finding could help fill an important gap in our understanding of male social life and health in primates — including humans.

Male baboons spend very little time grooming each other. Those that befriend females are more likely to engage in grooming (removing ticks and other parasites) and expanding social connections that can lead to better long-term health.

Something to think about.

Learn more at ScienceDaily.

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Photo credits: Joshua tree by Richard Schneider/Flickr; Ruth Bader Ginsburg courtesy Supreme Court of the United States; rusty patched bumblebee by Tony Ernst/Flickr; Tucson shovel-nosed snake by Erik Enderson; Franklin tree courtesy John Bartram Association/Bartram's Garden; "Gather" film poster; "The Invisible Vegan" film poster; "Dolores" film poster; "Urban Roots" film poster; mountain lion by Alan D. Wilson/Nature's Pics Online; mother and baby by Rui Xu/Unsplash; baboon by Gary M. Stolz/USFWS.

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