More Lawsuits Filed Over California Wildlife
Suit Filed to Save Southern California Forests
Continuing our campaign to save Southern California's four national forests from themselves, the Center for Biological Diversity and six allies sued the U.S. Forest Service last Thursday. We seek to strike down the master land-management plans for the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland national forests because they allow too much habitat destruction and development. The plans, issued by the Forest Service in response to a 1998 Center lawsuit, largely ignore a comprehensive "conservation alternative" developed by the Center and its allies. Our alternative outlined ways to protect and preserve the forests, but the agency instead adopted a plan with too much road-building, off-road traffic, power lines, energy development, logging, grazing, and other threats to sensitive species and ecosystems.
Last week's challenge follows a March suit by the Center and friends over federal agencies' failure to protect dozens of imperiled species on Southern California's four national forests, as well as a state of California suit challenging the 2005 plans specifically for allowing development in roadless areas.
Read more in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Center Goes to Court for Warming-threatened "Boulder Bunny"
Sticking up for one of the most conventionally cute species threatened by climate change, this Tuesday the Center for Biological Diversity filed two lawsuits -- one in state court and one in federal court -- to win protections for the American pika under the California and federal Endangered Species Acts. The pika, a small, rabbit-like mammal living in boulder fields near mountain peaks in the American West, is adapted to cold, alpine conditions and can die from overheating when exposed to temperatures as low as 80 degrees for just a few hours. That's why as climate change causes temperatures to rise, pikas living in warmer, lower-elevation areas are disappearing. More than a third of the animal's known populations in the Great Basin mountains of Nevada and Oregon have already gone extinct, and those remaining have moved way upslope.
The Center petitioned to list the California pika population under that state's Endangered Species Act a year ago, but the California Fish and Game Commission denied the petition, saying that "facilitating adaptation to climate change" wasn't in its "purview." And while we petitioned to protect the species federally last October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has so far failed to take action.
Read more in the San José Mercury News.
Two More California Plants Shorted on Habitat Protections
Prolonging its pattern of cheating species out of the protected habitat they need, last Thursday the Bush administration announced its final decision on habitat safeguards for the San Bernardino Mountains bluegrass and California dandelion, giving neither imperiled California plant enough protected living space to recover. Habitat protections for the San Bernardino Mountains bluegrass, a perennial bunch grass with modest, petal-less flowers, were reduced by 16 percent compared with the originally proposed area, while habitat for the California dandelion -- a golden-flowered annual growing only in the San Bernardino Mountains -- failed to include key plant locations. The defective designations lengthen the list of California plants robbed of protections over the past decade, including the Lane Mountain milk-vetch, San Jacinto Valley crownscale, and Munz's onion -- all species the Center for Biological Diversity has done much to protect.
Read more in Plenty.