Reversing Bush Political Corruption, Feds Agree to Increase Critical Habitat Protection for 12 Texas Endangered Species

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Reversing Bush Political Corruption, Feds Agree to Increase Critical Habitat Protection for 12 Texas Endangered Species

AUSTIN, TX - In response to a lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity,
Citizen’s Alliance for Smart Expansion, and Aquifer Guardians in Urban
Areas, the Obama administration agreed
late Friday to reconsider critical habitat designation for 12
endangered Texas invertebrates, including three species from Comal
Springs and nine species from caves in Bexar County. With colorful
names like the robber baron Cave harvestman, vesper cave spider, and
Comal Springs riffle beetle, these 12 species are immediately
threatened by excessive water withdrawal and urban sprawl.

Today’s
announcement reverses previous critical habitats, designated by the
Bush administration, that failed to include areas deemed by scientists
to be essential to the survival of the 12 species.

“Consistent
with their efforts to minimize protection for the nation’s endangered
species, the Bush administration shortchanged these 12 Texas species,”
said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director for the Center
for Biological Diversity. “These 12 rare and unique species need
increased critical habitat protections if they are going to have any
chance at survival.”

For the three Comal Springs
species, the Bush administration ignored the advice of expert peer
reviewers and only included the small area around the springs
themselves, even though the primary threat to the species is
groundwater pumping from the larger Edwards Aquifer. For the nine Bexar
County cave species, the administration slashed critical habitats
proposed by the agency’s own scientists by 82 to 100 percent, leaving
them vulnerable to sprawl from San Antonio.

“Ignoring
science was the name of the game for the Bush administration,” said
Bill Bunch, attorney on the case and executive director of the Save Our
Springs Alliance. “We trust the Obama administration will give science
its due and dramatically increase the area of protected critical
habitat for these species.” 

The Center for
Biological Diversity has been actively working to overturn Bush-era
decisions limiting protection for endangered species, including suing
to overturn decisions affecting 55 species.
To date, this campaign has been highly successful, with the Obama
administration agreeing to reconsider 45 of the 54 decisions, including
the 12 Texas species today.

Background on the Species:

Peck’s Cave amphipod, Comal Springs dryopid beetle, and Comal Springs riffle beetle. These
three Texas invertebrates occur in only four springs where they are
threatened by ground water pumping in the Edwards Aquifer. After Fish
and Wildlife Service scientists drafted a proposed rule that included
subterranean waters in the aquifer, Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie
MacDonald ordered that only the small areas around the springs be
designated despite the fact that threats are to the aquifer and not the
springs.

Robber baron cave harvestman, vesper
cave spider, Government Canyon cave spider, Madla’s cave spider, robber
baron cave spider, and helotes mold beetle, Cicurina venii, Rhadine exilis, Cokendolpher cave harvestman.

These nine karst-dwelling species all occur in one or more caves of
Bexar County, Texas, and are threatened by rapid urban sprawl in and
around San Antonio. Critical habitat had been reduced for these species
from between 82 to 100 percent, with a total of more than 15,000 acres
removed from protection.

 

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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