Green Groups Sue to Save Atlantic's Only National Monument
Now, some of them are suing to stop him and preserve the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which protects 5,000 square miles of unique ocean habitat off Cape Cod.
"Trump has once again eliminated critical natural resource protections on a whim, and with no legal authority," Brad Campbell, president of the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), said in a press release announcing his organization's decision to sue. "This lawless act upends over a century of practice by presidents of both parties, and puts all national monuments on the block for the highest political bidder."
President Trump illegally gutted protections for New England’s marine monument. We’ll see him in court.… https://t.co/UWgRF6P7q8— Conservation Law Foundation (@Conservation Law Foundation)1592511911.0
The monument was created by President Barack Obama in 2016 using the Antiquities Act, CLF said. It protects an estimated 54 species of deep sea coral and hundreds of other marine animals, including endangered species like North Atlantic right whales and Kemp's ridley sea turtles, The Boston Globe reported. It is also home to four underwater mountains and three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon.
The commercial fishing industry had argued that the creation of the monument was an overreach of federal authority that hurt livelihoods. Before its formation, fisherman said as many as 80 boats fished the area.
"President Obama swept aside our public, science-based fishery management process with the stroke of a pen," Bob Vanasse, executive director of fishermen lobby group Saving Seafood, told The Boston Globe. "That was a mistake, and whatever anyone thinks about President Trump is irrelevant."
But, in a lawsuit filed in Washington, DC Wednesday, CLF, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Natural Resources Defense Council argued that Trump's reversal was the overreach: A president may use the Antiquities Act to designate a monument, but only Congress can undo protections.
"Trump's order was illegal because he can't just declare commercial fishing is allowed in a protected marine monument," CBD attorney Kristen Monsell said in a press release. "The Seamounts monument was created to permanently safeguard this amazing ecosystem and vulnerable species like the endangered sperm whale. Presidents can't be allowed to gut protections by decree as a favor to commercial fishermen."
The Center and allies just filed a lawsuit challenging President Trump's executive order allowing commercial fishin… https://t.co/6vr6gIG7v4— Center for Bio Div (@Center for Bio Div)1592423586.0
CBD pointed out that, before Trump reversed the commercial fishing ban, courts had twice rejected the industry's attempt to challenge it.
Conservation groups also argue that the monument ultimately protects commercial fisheries by preserving the species that support them, according to The Boston Globe.
Further, not all business interests oppose the monument. Zack Klyver, a Maine marine scientist who has led more than 600,000 people on whale watching tours with the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company, has also joined the suit.
"I spend lots of time on the water so I know how important it is to protect this marine monument. My business depends on a healthy ocean," Klyver, who has also co-founded ocean conservation company Blue Planet Strategies, said in the CBD release. "Trump's attack on New England's prized marine monument is one I take personally. We need to protect our oceans and their abundance of marine life for future generations to experience."
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.