Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

10 Extraordinary Places Saved by the Endangered Species Act

Animals
10 Extraordinary Places Saved by the Endangered Species Act

In celebration of the country's 11th annual Endangered Species Day, the Center for Biological Diversity released a report Thursday highlighting 10 of the most unique and beautiful wild places saved by the presence of endangered species.

From Pacific Ocean kelp forests to Florida's Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, millions of acres of the nation's most precious and irreplaceable landscapes and seascapes have been conserved and restored as part of the cooperative management of our public lands to recover imperiled species.

“While the Endangered Species Act is best known for saving 99 percent of protected species from extinction, many people don't realize that protecting animals and plants under the act has also resulted in the preservation of some of America's most beautiful and cherished refuges and public spaces," Jamie Pang, an endangered species campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “Thanks to the act and its mandate to save endangered species and the places they live, we have more national wildlife refuges, as well as healthier lands, cleaner rivers, oceans and lakes where we can hike, fish and observe wildlife."

The power of the Endangered Species Act to conserve and heal landscapes, oceans and waterways while protecting and recovering species is in evidence in every region of the country. Among the areas highlighted in the report, Saving Species and Wild Spaces, 10 Extraordinary Places Saved by the Endangered Species Act, are:

Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge, in Alabama, was purchased specifically to protect endangered gray and Indiana bats, providing a summer roosting site for 200,000 to 400,000 gray bats and critical winter hibernacula for both species. Bats provide vitally important ecological service by eating millions of mosquitoes and insects a year. Even after the cave entrances were closed off to protect the species, thousands of visitors come to the refuge every summer to watch the bats fly out at dusk.

Southern sea otter. Photo credit: Neil Fisher / NOAA

The recovery of the once-flagging Pacific kelp beds off the California coast was triggered only after Endangered Species Act protections recovered populations of sea otters, which, in turn, once again started doing the important job of keeping in check a sea urchin population that had overgrazed the underwater kelp forests. Kelp forests play a critical role in absorbing wave energy to prevent shoreline erosion, absorbing greenhouse gasesand providing ecotourism opportunities.

Pacific kelp forest. Photo credit: NOAA

Created in 1992 to protect to endangered songbirds, Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, overlooking the city of Austin, Texas provides surrounding communities with popular recreational and tourism opportunities and offers protection for the critical landscape responsible for recharging a key regional water source, the Edwards aquifer.

Endangered Species Act protections for Atlantic salmon, shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon spurred dam removals that helped restore the health of Maine's longest river, the Penobscot, which not only provides a home to birds, mammals and 11 fish species but is a popular recreation and fishing spot.

Other places included in the report are Hawaii's Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona's San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, the Southeast's longleaf pine ecosystem, the Virgin Islands' Green Cay National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Erie.

“We should step back and truly appreciate all the things the Act has done," Pang said. “Without the powerful conservation tools it provides, America's most important landscapes, waterways and coastlines would be very different places today."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

First Ever 100% Edible Six-Pack Ring Feeds Marine Animals Instead of Killing Them

Only 60 Vaquita Left as World's Smallest Porpoise Slides Toward Extinction

Rare Rhino Gives Birth to Adorable Baby Girl

USDA: Beekeepers Lost 44% of Honey Bee Colonies Last Year

One of the beavers released into England's Somerset county this January, which has now helped build the area's first dam in more than 400 years. Ben Birchall / PA Images via Getty Images

England's Somerset county can now boast its first beaver dam in more than 400 years.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Australia's dingo fences, built to protect livestock from wild dogs, stretch for thousands of miles. Marian Deschain / Wikimedia

By Alex McInturff, Christine Wilkinson and Wenjing Xu

What is the most common form of human infrastructure in the world? It may well be the fence. Recent estimates suggest that the total length of all fencing around the globe is 10 times greater than the total length of roads. If our planet's fences were stretched end to end, they would likely bridge the distance from Earth to the Sun multiple times.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Hopi blue corn is being affected by climate change. Abrahami / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

Climate change is making ancient Hopi farming nearly impossible, threatening not just the Tribe's staple food source, but a pillar of its culture and religion, the Arizona Republic reports.

Read More Show Less
Pollution on the Ganges River. Kaushik Ghosh / Moment Open / Getty Images

The most polluted river in the world continues to be exploited through fishing practices that threaten endangered wildlife, new research shows.

Read More Show Less
Oil spills, such as the one in Mauritius in August 2020, could soon be among the ecological crimes considered ecocide. - / AFP / Getty Images

By Kenny Stancil

An expert panel of top international and environmental lawyers have begun working this month on a legal definition of "ecocide" with the goal of making mass ecological damage an enforceable international crime on par with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Read More Show Less