SACRAMENTO (CN) – The federal government missed nearly every deadline for Endangered Species Act listing of 48 Western species, including 42 springsnails, the Center for Biological Diversity claims in Federal Court. The Center announced a legal offensive this week, encompassing 93 imperiled species.
The government’s failure to act, which includes not issuing 12-month and 90-day findings on seven listing petitions, is a preventable tragedy, causing the species to “spiral towards extinction,” the group says in its Sacramento complaint.
Species include the California golden trout, for which a listing petition was filed in 2000. The fish lives only in two high-altitude watersheds in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is threatened by habitat degradation and hybdridization with nonnative rainbow trout.
The Mohave fringe-toed lizard, threatened by off-road vehicle use, exists in three Nevada dune complexes.
The 42 species of Great Basin springsnails are found in Nevada, Utah and California, and are on the brink due to water diversion and livestock grazing, the lawsuit states.
The Amargosa toad, Tehachapi slender salamander, Mohave ground squirrel and Mount Charleston butterfly face threats ranging from habitat destruction and modification to mining and urban development.
The springsnails and ground squirrel are waiting for 90-day findings on their threatened or endangered status, while the rest of the species still need 12-month findings.
In addition to the Sacramento complaint, the group also filed in Portland, Ore.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Washington, D.C.
The 93 species will be added to 249 candidates on a backlog for threatened and endangered listing, the group says. The center points out that the government’s excuses of low funding are undermined by a 275 percent budgetary increase since 2002.
President Obama has listed only two species as threatened or endangered so far, the group says, to date worse than even former president G.W. Bush’s abysmal record of 62 total listings.
Matthew Vespa of San Francisco represents the center in its Sacramento complaint.