Thursday, November 3, 2011

Formal Notice Of ESA Violations Sent To U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Over Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm

We submitted a detailed notice letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the agency’s September 27, 2011 Biological Opinion that purports to authorize construction and operation of the Shaffer Mountain Wind Project, which is proposed to be located in Somerset and Bedford Counties, Pennsylvania. The proposed project site presents one of the gravest risks to an endangered species of any operating or proposed wind energy facility in the country, with a biologically critical maternity colony of the highly endangered Indiana bat located on the project site. Leading bat biologists have strongly urged the Service to consider alternative sites with less risk to bats, especially in light of the devastating impacts of a disease known as White Nose Syndrome that is ravaging Indiana bat populations and sending the species spiraling towards extinction, but the Service disregarded that expert advice and instead allowed lethal turbine operation subject to certain parameters. The Service’s approach was legally and scientifically baseless, as explained in our notice letter that can be found here.

Lawsuit Filed To Protect Big Cypress National Preserve From Invasive ORV Use

Today, we filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on behalf of a coalition of national and local environmental organizations (Sierra Club, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Florida Biodiversity Project, South Florida Wildlands Association, and Wilderness Watch) seeking to overturn the National Park Service’s (“NPS”) decision to introduce extenstive Off-Road Vehicle (“ORV”) use and ORV-assisted hunting into the pristine Addition Lands of the Big Cypress National Preserve. The Addition Lands have for decades served as a place of solitude for hikers, nature photographers, and birdwatchers, whose experiences will be severely diminished by the hundreds of miles of ORV trails authorized by NPS’s decision. Not only did NPS for the first time authorize these environmentally destructive motorized uses in the Addition Lands, but they achieved that result by improperly excluding beautiful and pristine lands from a wilderness eligibility study, which allowed NPS to bypass recommending those areas to Congress for long-term preservation as wilderness for the public’s enjoyment of these lands in their natural state. The lawsuit also raises concerns with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion, which failed to address several key threats to the highly imperiled Florida panther, as well as other species. Here is a link to the press release, and here is a link to the complaint.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Intervention Granted For Wild Horse Advocacy Groups In Lawsuit Brought By Grazing Association To Remove Wild Horses From Public Lands in Wyoming

The federal district court in Wyoming today granted the firm’s motion to intervene on behalf of several wild horse advocacy groups in a case brought by the Rock Springs Grazing Association to force the Bureau of Land Management to remove wild horses from over a million acres of public lands in Wyoming.  The Grazing Association represented to the Court that BLM told it to file the case if it wanted to get Congress to provide more funds to BLM for the removal of wild horses, which compete with domestic livestock for food on the range.  The firm is representing the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, and the Cloud Foundation.