A U.S. District Court judge has ordered three federal agencies to “take all necessary measures” to better protect 40 endangered species in four national forests in Southern California.
The ruling on June 28 by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in San Francisco followed a 2009 federal court decision that management plans for the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino national forests failed to ensure that human activities not jeopardize threatened plants and animals.
Six Months For Agencies To Develop Plans In California
Patel gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Forest Service six months to develop and implement long-term safeguards for the 40 species, which include the mountain yellow-legged frog (pictured above), the California condor and the California gnatcatcher.
Forest managers also will have to develop a comprehensive program to reduce activities threatening the survival of the few steelhead trout left in the Los Padres and Cleveland national forests, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A Halt To Construction And Access In Several Areas
From the Los Angeles Times:
Officials from the agencies were not immediately available for comment. Ileene Anderson, spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued over the agencies’ forest management plans, said, “We’re ecstatic. We always felt we had a strong case, and on Tuesday, the judge agreed.”
Pending development of the new protection plans, Patel ordered the U.S. Forest Service to halt construction and public access in the vicinity of Williamson Rock and Little Rock Creek Road in the Angeles National Forest, popular hiking areas that are also home to endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs and arroyo toads. Both amphibians have lost nearly all their historic habitat.
In addition, Patel closed the Cherry Canyon area of the Los Padres National Forest to recreational shooting.
Other animals and plants that gained protection include the San Joaquin fox, Steller sea lion, Smith’s blue butterfly, ash-gray Indian paintbrush and bird-footed checkerbloom.
Suction Dredge Mining?
These federal agencies were also ordered to report on the impacts that suction dredge mining in the San Gabriel River has had on the Santa Ana sucker, and explain why such mining should not be immediately halted. Suction dredge mining, which is used to separate gold from stream gravel, harms water quality by spreading silt and sand.
Good to know that someone is watching out for our endangered species. Thank you, Judge Patel.
Photo Credit: USFWS Pacific Southwest Region via Creative Commons