The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Releases Roadmap for Speeding Protection of Hundreds of Species Under Historic Settlement Agreement


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released a four-year work plan detailing how it will implement a far-reaching 2011 settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity that requires Endangered Species Act protection decisions for 757 species. The work plan lays out the years in which all the species in the agreement will get protective decisions or critical habitat designations. Under the settlement, 54 species have so far been protected and 66 have been proposed for protection, including American wolverines, lesser prairie chickens and Ozark hellbenders.

"Our agreement is already working to speed up protection for hundreds of species across the country," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. "This work plan is important because it sets out exactly when species will receive protection, which is important for local governments, landowners and others to begin the tough job of ensuring the survival and recovery of these species."

In some cases the plan provides additional detail about what protection species will receive. For example, it specifies that Fish and Wildlife will propose critical habitat for lesser prairie chickens this year, providing some hope the agency is serious about protecting these showy and severely imperiled birds. In another case it specifies that, in addition to protecting Mexican garter snakes, the agency will make a protection decision for narrow-headed garter snakes. Both snakes are residents of southwestern rivers and were petitioned by the Center.

Other species to receive protection decisions this year include eastern small-footed bats and northern long-eared bats, two species the Center petitioned because of the threat of the epidemic called white-nose syndrome, which has killed more than 7 million bats and continues to spread; Kittlitz's murrelets, also petitioned by the Center and threatened by climate change; and Oregon spotted frogs, which have disappeared from more than 90 percent of their native range over the past half-century.

"The settlement agreement is working to move protection forward for some of the most endangered wildlife in the United States," said Greenwald. "The Endangered Species Act is recovering hundreds of species across the country, but it can only start helping species once they're actually listed as threatened or endangered."

Read more about the Center's 757 agreement here.

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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