Huge victory for keeping Wyoming’s coal in the ground
On September 15, we scored a major win for climate progress, our public lands, and our clean energy future when the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Bureau of Land Management violated federal law in ignoring the climate implications of approving massive new coal mining in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. The BLM was bending over backwards to expand the world’s largest coal mines, owned by the largest coal companies—Arch Coal and Peabody Energy—and was set to hand over a whopping two billion tons of coal until we stepped in. Now that we’ve taken on the big guys and won, we’re all the more ready to confront Trump’s pro-fossil fuel, climate-denying agenda.
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Partnership formed for Rio Grande protection
Guardians is allying with Waterkeeper Alliance—a global movement of more than 300 member organizations protecting healthy waterways throughout the world—to protect and restore the Rio Grande from its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado to the Chihuahuan desert of southern New Mexico. Jen Pelz, Guardians’ wild rivers program director, is the newly appointed Rio Grande Waterkeeper. The Rio Grande Waterkeeper program envisions returning the pulse to this depleted river by removing physical and legal obstacles and reallocating flows to the river to support its dynamic nature—thereby restoring life and providing life-changing experiences to those who live and recreate in and around its waters.
Stay tuned for more at www.riograndewaterkeeper.org in early October.
Calling out Congress for trying to steal our public lands
Trump and Zinke aren’t the only ones in Washington hell-bent on selling out our public lands legacy, and now we have the numbers to prove it. Our list of legislation affecting public lands confirms that members of Congress are trying to get in on the action, too, having introduced more than 50 significant bills affecting Western public lands. Modern-day robber barons looking to loot public lands often turn to friendly members of Congress after their schemes are rejected by agencies or the courts. Too often, elected officials treat public lands in their districts or states as their own personal fiefdoms—from which they can dole out holdings as they see fit—rather than as our nation’s collective birthright.
See the list of public lands legislation we're tracking »
Protections sought for Greater Yellowstone’s grizzly bears
On August 30, with our partners at the Western Environmental Law Center, we sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its flawed rule stripping grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of their Endangered Species Act protections. The lawsuit condemns the Service for removing protections from this population without first considering the impacts on imperiled grizzly populations elsewhere in the United States. Grizzlies need to disperse to strengthen genetic diversity and ensure the survival of the species, yet under this plan, grizzlies stepping outside of the safety of our national parks would be the first to die at the hands of trophy hunters. Overall, grizzly bears in the lower 48 remain absent from nearly 98 percent of their historic range.
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Restoring mountain streams in New Mexico
Nearly three miles of stream along the Rio de las Vacas on the Santa Fe National Forest now have a new lease on life. In a years-long project, Guardians and our partners, including more than 100 volunteers, restored the stream on the west side of the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico. We planted more than 80,000 trees, which increased shade as well as improved streambank stability and wildlife habitat. We also helped to protect vegetation from livestock and elk, and relocated campsites to keep vehicles away from the stream. Now, beavers have moved into the area, and are increasing wetland habitat by constructing multiple dams. Take a look at the before and after photos of this remarkable transformation.
See photos »
Confronting Trump’s coal handouts in Colorado
Floundering company Peabody Energy wants 640 acres of publicly owned coal to expand its Foidel Creek coal mine in northwestern Colorado, though this would cheat the American public and pave the way for more climate destruction. We say: absolutely not, and so we asked the BLM to deny Peabody’s request. Peabody, which only recently emerged from bankruptcy, relies on government subsidies to keep the Foidel Creek mine operating. It has acquired millions of tons of coal from the BLM for 25 cents a ton, yet has been selling that coal for $40 a ton. The American people should not be supporting a company that is destroying our planet and cannot survive without our handouts.
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Protecting winter wildlands, wildlife, and quiet
After three national forests ignored a U.S. Forest Service regulation to minimize disruption from snowmobiles to winter wildlife on national forests, we hauled the agency into court to protect our winter wildlands and wildlife. The Boise and Payette National Forests in Idaho and a portion of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming recently republished 15-year-old snowmobile maps that are based on outdated science and could spell disaster for wildlife and quiet winter recreationists. Working with Advocates for the West, we challenged in court the decision to republish these maps because these forests must manage their public lands in ways that protect wildlife, such as lynx and wolverine, already living on the edge of survival during the winter.
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Ditch rehabilitation project threatens connectivity of native fish habitat
On September 21, we spoke out on behalf of river health and native species, asking the Colorado Water Conservation Board to carefully scrutinize a proposed ditch and headgate rehabilitation project on the Rio Grande. The preliminary design for the Consolidated and Pace Ditch diversion proposes removing and replacing the existing, relatively natural rock diversion structure with a concrete dam. While the current structure provides both fish and boat passage, the planned mitigation for the new dam structure would make it difficult for native fish—including the imperiled Rio Grande chub—to travel upstream, and might also be dangerous for boats. We will continue to defend river connectivity and ensure that this project does not endanger the health of the Rio Grande and its native species.
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Speaking up for the Texas hornshell
We submitted official comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in support of legal protections for the Texas hornshell, an imperiled freshwater mussel calling the Rio Grande home. After nearly three decades of waiting, the mussel is on the verge of being added to the official list of species protected by the Endangered Species Act (Act), but special interests in Texas are opposed to the listing. We told the Service that unenforceable, voluntary conservation agreements are an unacceptable alternative to strong protections of the Act. We will continue to fight for the smallest creatures among us, like the hornshell, not only because they have an intrinsic right to exist, but also because protecting them means protecting the rivers we love and on which we depend.
Read the comments »
Victory! Idaho rejects wolf baiting proposal
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission shot down a proposal that would have allowed hunters to bait wolves—a cruel, unethical, and unsportsmanlike practice. Baiting not only gives an unfair advantage to trophy hunters, but also increases the spread of diseases through concentrating animals. Baiting also accustoms wolves to human sources of food, thereby making human-wildlife conflicts more likely, and endangers companion animals that could be attracted to bait sites where wolves are feeding. Guardians staff attended the hearing and spoke out against the cruel proposal. An overwhelming majority of the public comments on the proposal opposed baiting.
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Speak out to defend the Endangered Species Act
With Congress taking aim at the Endangered Species Act in a variety of bills and riders, we are urging all who value imperiled species to take a lesson from the prairie dog. Prairie dog “sentries” stand guard at the entrance to their burrows, and when they spot a threat—like a hungry golden eagle or coyote—they raise the alarm, securing the future of the colony. It’s now time for us to sound a warning in our own communities and secure the future of wildlife. The Endangered Species Act has a 99 percent success rate at preventing the extinction of animals and plants, and has already recovered the bald eagle and dozens more animals. Together, we can spread the word and prevent Congress from gutting this integral law.
Alert your community »
Condemning Trump's fracking plans for western public lands
Just look at the latest numbers and you’ll understand why we’re battling to halt further sales of our public lands for fracking: President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke plan to auction off more than 158,000 acres of public lands for fracking this month across the west. Appallingly, the public—the owner of our public lands—is getting less and less of a say in these sales; the auctions will take place online, away from public view, and public comment periods on oil and gas sales are being eliminated left and right in response to a request from Zinke earlier this month. When it comes to our public lands, shutting out the American public isn’t just an attack on our environment; it’s an attack on our democracy.
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Halting Nevada fracking and disreputable dealings
Even oil and gas industry insiders think new plans to auction off millions of acres of public lands in Nevada are a sham, so we’re calling on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to halt public lands oil and gas leasing in the state. According to the president of a western U.S.-based oil and gas industry trade association, industry requests for the BLM to auction off public lands for fracking appear to be coming from disreputable companies. But the BLM is still spending valuable taxpayer dollars and agency resources to process these requests—an affront to the American public and another black mark on the agency’s integrity and credibility.
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photo credits: (Left column) Keep it in the Ground sign—WildEarth Guardians. Rio Grande NM—Adriel Heisey. Larch trees—NPS Flickr. Grizzly bear and cubs—Sam Parks. Las Vacas after—WildEarth Guardians. Peabody Energy—WildEarth Guardians. Snowmobile avalanche—USDA. River—Jen Pelz. Mussel—Joel Lusk, USFWS. Wolf in winter—Sam Parks. Utah prairie dog—Rich Reading. Fracking machines—WildEarth Guardians. Lands in Nevada—WildEarth Guardians. (Right column) Karina Bird—Karina Bird. San Juan National Forest—Larry Lamsa. Jeremy speaking—WildEarth Guardians.
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“How Trump is jeopardizing the future of America’s public lands”
“Congress to scientists: You’re fired”
Karina Bird is the second generation of Birds to work at WildEarth Guardians. This summer Karina worked with our Conservation Services team as our intern on projects that varied from foundation research to event support. We are grateful for her strong work ethic, input and execution on projects, and can-do attitude. Thank you, Karina!
Tickets are on sale for our 14th Annual Guardians Gala happening on October 6 at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Pavilion. Join Guardians as we celebrate our successes for the wild. This year’s event will also feature a slideshow of wildlife photographer Noppadol Paothong’s incredible photos prior to a talk by Guardians Executive Director John Horning. Plan a trip to Santa Fe and purchase your tickets today!
October 11—Missoula meet and greet, 6 p.m. at Imagine Nation Brewing
December 7—Albuquerque Treehugger Bash
So, How'd it go...
Thank you to the more than 5,000 people who joined us in applauding the U.S. Forest Service’s revisions to its Rico West Dolores project, which aims to tackle the oversized and crumbling road system on southwest Colorado’s San Juan National Forest. In response to our advocacy, the service revised the project to identify the fewest number of roads needed to manage the forest—helping to restore water quality, reconnect wildlife habitat, and ensure reliable recreational access.
We appreciated the passionate and engaged group of supporters who joined us at our meet and greet at Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder, Colo., to hear about our wildlife and climate and energy programs. We hope to see you again at a future event!