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CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

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California contains extraordinary biological diversity and a world-class array of ecosystems, including rugged ocean beaches, snowy mountain peaks, oak woodlands, remnant grasslands, scenic deserts, and lush forests. These diverse areas contain some of the most species-rich lands in the world. And despite the environmental advances of the past three decades, California's ecosystems and biological diversity continue to decline at unacceptable rates. Logging, grazing, dam building, road construction, mining, and poorly regulated development are leading California toward irreversible ecological collapse.

Twenty-one animal species have been driven to extinction in California in recent years. Another 17 species have been extirpated, and at least 34 plants are presumed extinct. As many as 599 plants and 306 vertebrate species are declining or seriously at risk, including 64 percent of the state's native fish. These numbers will only grow as California's population increases to a projected 15 million-plus people by 2020, bringing new pressures to already severely stressed ecosystems.

To save California's endangered species, open spaces, and wild places, the Center is revolutionizing environmental protection in the Golden State. In just a few short years we have, among other actions:

  • Won Endangered Species Act listing protection for more than 149 species, including the jaguar, San Jacinto Valley crownscale, Quino checkerspot butterfly, San Diego thornmint, Western lily, and southwestern willow flycatcher.
  • Reduced or eliminated livestock grazing on 2 million acres of the California Desert Conservation Area .
  • Challenged logging in the Sierra Nevada with petitions to list the California spotted owl, Sierra Nevada population of the Pacific fisher, and the Northern goshawk as endangered species.
  • Won protection for 25 acres on San Bruno Mountain to protect Native American historical sites and endangered butterflies, and another 575 acres in San Jose's Silver Creek Hills.
  • Got 49,310 acres of Algodones Dunes protected from off-road vehicles.
  • Secured the closure of the gillnet fishery in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
  • Petitioned to protect scores of California species under the Endangered Species Act, including the American pika, black abalone, California spotted owl, longfin smelt, mountain yellow-legged frog, Pacific fisher, Pacific red snapper, yellow-billed cuckoo, and Yosemite toad.
  • Negotiated a settlement with the Forest Service to protect more than 50 imperiled plants and animals on millions of acres of National Forest in Southern California.
  • Challenged logging and mining that are decimating rivers and endangered salmon.
  • Challenged urban sprawl in the Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, and San Francisco Bay areas.

Photo by Martha Alejandre