2 Thumbs Up Award to Center for Biological Diversity
Twice in 10 years, the federal courts have ruled in favor of Mother Nature ruling the San Pedro River the last major free-flowing Southwestern desert river needs protection. The judges ruled that more groundwater pumping in the Sierra Vista, AZ area would jeopardize two endangered species living along the San Pedro River. Sierra Vista pumps about 6,100 acre-feet more water than is replenished by rainfall and other means.
Unless the U.S. Army operations at Fort Huachuca decreases their presence this ground water pumping from the only undammed free flowing river in Arizona would endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher and the Huachuca water umbel.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Army officials would not comment on the ruling. It overturns their 2007 biological opinion on how pumping for the fort would affect the river.
But a U.S. Geological Survey official, Bruce Gungle, a hydrologist and chief of the survey’s San Pedro project, acknowledged Tuesday there isn’t much more the region can do to conserve water to protect the river, although other measures such as the importation of Central Arizona Project water has long been discussed, but not acted upon.
In Friday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima said:
• The biological opinion “committed legal error” by failing to analyze the effects of the fort’s actions on whether the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher and the Huachuca water umbel will recover from their imperiled status.
• The Wildlife Service’s opinion relied, in violation of the law, on “uncertain and unspecified” measures to ease the pumping. The opinion mentioned 26 water-related measures, but the judge said it is difficult to determine which of those are actually planned, and that nearly one-third of the projects aren’t financed.
• The Army’s reliance on this 2007 opinion was “arbitrary and capricious,” and the Army violated its duty under the Endangered Species Act to ensure its operations don’t jeopardize the species.
The ruling responded to a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Maricopa Audubon Society. In 2002, in response to an earlier suit filed by the center, another judge tossed out an earlier Wildlife Service biological opinion, forcing the 2007 rewrite.
The Sierra Vista area pumps about 6,100 acre-feet more water than is replenished by rainfall and other means, studies have shown.
The ruling’s significance should be “that it is finally clear that they can’t come up with enough mitigation measures to preserve the river with the fort’s current troop strength,” said Robin Silver, the Center for Biological Diversity’s conservation chairman. “In order to save the river, they need to reduce the number of missions at Fort Huachuca.”
2 Thumbs Up Award to
The Center for Biological Diversity + Mother Nature’s eternal thanks for saving the San Pedro.
Excerpts courtesy of http://bit.ly/jjR6dV
Image 1. courtesy of http://1.usa.gov/lGD5bg
Image 2. courtesy of http://bit.ly/mJHAuN