The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Small Colorful Fish Gets Endangered Species Protection
The trispot darter fish was thought to be entirely extinct in Alabama for more than 50 years until it was discovered in 2008 in Little Canoe Creek. Now, 10 years later, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has finalized protections for the 1.5 inch fish, earmarking more than 180 miles of river as "critical habitat."
"Protecting the trispot darter under the Endangered Species Act will safeguard this colorful little fish for future generations and help protect water quality for nearby communities," CBD senior scientist Tierra Curry said in the CBD press release.
The trispot darter has lost 80 percent of its historic range. It now lives in the Coosa River watershed in northern Alabama, northern Georgia and southeast Tennessee and the Conasauga River watershed in Georgia and Tennessee. Of the four individual rivers it calls home, only one, the Little Canoe Creek, is considered healthy.
The trispot darter's habitat is threatened by runoff from urban development, agriculture and logging. Because it lays eggs and seeks shelter between rocks, it cannot survive when those spaces fill up with sediment.
Unlike most darters, the trispot behaves like a salmon, spending most of its life in larger rivers and then swimming upstream to smaller tributaries to spawn once a year. Because of its migration pattern, it is also at risk from dams and any other constructions that block its way.
The fish is also threatened by climate change, which is projected to increase both hurricanes and drought in the Southeast. Hurricanes can wash out eggs and larvae and put stress on adult fish, while droughts lead to habitat loss and reduced water quality, according to the final FWS rule.
In 2010, CBD, the Alabama Rivers Alliance and other groups petitioned the government to grant the fish Endangered Species Act protections. CBD sued in 2015 to get a date for the FWS decision.The FWS listed it as threatened, and its new status will go into effect Jan. 28, 30 days after its posting to the Federal Register. The designation of critical habitat for the fish will mean that any federal project along the rivers it calls home will have to consult with FWS to make sure it does not disturb the fish, CBD explained. Further, it will now be illegal to catch or sell the fish, the Associated Press reported.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Tropical forests globally are being lost at a rate of 61,000 square miles a year. And despite conservation efforts, the global rate of loss is accelerating. In 2016 it reached a 15-year high, with 114,000 square miles cleared.
At the same time, many countries are pledging to restore large swaths of forests. The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched in 2011, calls for national commitments to restore 580,000 square miles of the world's deforested and degraded land by 2020. In 2014 the New York Declaration on Forests increased this goal to 1.35 million square miles, an area about twice the size of Alaska, by 2030.
By Cheryl Leahy
Do you think almond milk comes from a cow named Almond? Or that almonds lactate? The dairy industry thinks you do, and that's what it's telling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
For years, the dairy industry has been flexing its lobbying muscle, pressuring states and the federal government to restrict plant-based companies from using terms like "milk" on their labels, citing consumer confusion.
By Jeremy Deaton
A driver planning to make the trek from Denver to Salt Lake City can look forward to an eight-hour trip across some of the most beautiful parts of the country, long stretches with nary a town in sight. The fastest route would take her along I-80 through southern Wyoming. For 300 miles between Laramie and Evanston, she would see, according to a rough estimate, no fewer than 40 gas stations where she could fuel up her car. But if she were driving an electric vehicle, she would see just four charging stations where she could recharge her battery.
Fire Continues at Texas Petrochemical Plant as Company's History of Violations Gets Renewed Scrutiny
By Andrea Germanos
A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.
The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, "gas blend stocks" and "base oil."
"It's going to have to burn out at the tank," Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take "probably two days" for that to happen, he added.
The hillsides dyed orange with poppies may look like something out of a dream, but for the Southern California town of Lake Elsinore, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare.
The town of 66,000 people was inundated with around 50,000 tourists coming to snap pictures of the golden poppies growing in Walker Canyon as part of a superbloom of wildfires caused by an unusually wet winter, BBC News reported. The visitors trampled flowers and caused hours of traffic, The Guardian reported.
A controversial pesticide test that would have resulted in the deaths of 36 beagles has been stopped, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the company behind the test announced Monday. The announcement comes less than a week after HSUS made the test public when it released the results of an investigation into animal testing at Charles River Laboratories in Michigan.
"We have immediately ended the study that was the subject of attention last week and will make every effort to rehome the animals that were part of the study," Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDupont, said in a statement announcing its decision.