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Protection Sought For Plover & Salamander

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Environmentalists filed two federal lawsuits against Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, to protect the California tiger salamander in Sonoma County, and the Pacific Coast population of the Western snowy plover.

Both lawsuits say the secretary violated his duty to set aside critical habitat for the animals, as required by the Endangered Species Act.

The Center for Biological Diversity, plaintiff in both cases, says the Interior Department refused to set aside any habitat for the tiger salamander in Sonoma County, and excluded all proposed habitats without reason.

For the snowy plover, the Center claims Interior ignored analyses done by its own field offices, failed to assess economic benefits of critical habitat, and did not explain how the small amount of protected habitat could conserve the species.

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