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Legislative News

Dam Agreement Clears Way for Salmon Habitat

Federal, state, and utility officials announced yesterday the largest dam removal effort in California history as Pacific Gas & Electric Company agreed to demolish five of its dams on Battle Creek. The dams currently block migration of three endangered fish species: steelhead, winter-run chinook salmon and spring run chinook. Utilities officials said the dams will come down in 2001 after environmental studies. Three other dams that make up the Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project will remain, but will be fitted with fish ladders and screens and will allow more water to flow downstream. (National Journal's GREENWIRE, 9 November 1999)

Freshwater Species Extinction Crisis

A new Canadian study published in Conservation Biology finds freshwater animals are disappearing from North American lakes and rivers at the same alarming rate as they are from tropical rainforests, says ENS (10/4). With some 123 species already extinct since 1900, freshwater snails, fishes and amphibians are dying out 5 times faster than land species and 3 times faster than marine mammals. Many of the endangered species are considered to be among the "most imperiled" species on Earth, including 49% of mussel species, 23% of snail species, 33% of crayfish species, 26% of amphibian species and 21% of fish species. (GREENLines, 6 October 1999)

DOD Takes Over Management of Key Habitat

The new Defense Authorization Act transfers management of more than 1.6 million acres of the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona to the Defense Department, according to the Arizona Republic (10/8). The area is prime habitat for the critically endangered pronghorn antelope, pygmy owls, lesser long-nosed bats, and flat-tailed horned lizards under consideration for ESA listing. Environmentalists favor proposals for a Sonoran Desert National Park to take advantage of the National Park Services' greater experience in managing biologically sensitive areas. (GREENLines, 12 October 1999)

States Seek to Avoid Prairie Dog Listing

Eleven Great Plains states have drafted a region wide conservation plan to avoid possible listing of the black-tailed prairie dog as a threatened species, says the Omaha World Herald 10/11. Conservation groups doubt whether the plan, which relies on voluntary compliance, will have the enforcement capacity that the ESA does. Prairie dog habitat has been reduced to less than 1 million acres. The FWS, which acknowledges that it "has been difficult to make such plans work," is reviewing the plan. (GREENLines, 14 October 1999)

Extinction Faces One in Eight Bird Species

A report released by BirdLife International found that 1,200 bird species could become extinct in the next century, according to Reuters (10/14). Some 185 species face a high risk of extinction in the coming decade. While many of the most imperiled species live in tropical forests, common bird populations, such as European swallows and skylarks, have declined by 50% in the last three decades. The greatest threats include "deforestation, burning of vegetation, commercial logging, subsistence farming, plantations, arable farming and mining." (GREENLines, 15 October 1999)

DNA Analysis to Determine Wildness

ENS reports (10/25) that a Sea Grant gene study could be critical in determining whether the wild Atlantic salmon should be list as an endangered species. Maine Governor Angus King contends the wild salmon are really "descendants of stocking programs" and should not be listed. Until 1992, stocked salmon came from Penobscot River salmon and the DNA analysis seeks to find out to what extent the wild salmon can be genetically distinguished. (GREENLines, 26 October 1999)

High PCB Levels Found in Orcas

A new study found orcas in the Pacific Northwest had PCB levels 400 to 500 times that found in humans says the Seattle Post Intelligencer (10/25). The contamination weakens the immune system, hinders reproduction and makes them more susceptible to disease. Recent declines have led the Canadian government to list them as threatened, a path that researchers advocate the U.S. follow. (GREENLines, 27 October 1999)

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