Enjoy, Explore, and Protect the Planet Sierra Club Allegheny Group, Pennsylvania Chapter

Endangered Species

Local Peregrine Falcon Playing Major Role in Species Restoration

At the age of 16 Dorothy is not a youngster, but on May 9 the peregrine falcon laid her first egg of the season on April 2 in her nest on Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning and the fourth egg on April 9. As Jill St John points out, what is remarkable is not just Dorothy’s age but the fact that since the first fledgling in 2002 Dorothy has given birth to more than forty falcons, contributing significantly to the restoration of this important raptor in our region.

Monsanto’s ‘Generosity’ and the Effort to List the Monarch Butterfly as an Endangered Species

Photo: docentjoyce, Wikimedia Commons

ACTION: Sign the Sierra Rise petition calling for protection of the Monarchs from pesticides.

Why would Monsanto give $3.6 million to protect Monarch butterflies? Unlike the plight of the honeybees, the diminishing population of Monarch butterflies can be explained fairly simply; Monarchs rely on milkweed for food, but Midwest crops are sprayed with chemicals such as Roundup (produced by Monsanto) to kill the pesky milkweed, hence fewer and fewer Monarchs. In August 2014 the Center for Biological Diversity and two other organizations petitioned the US Fish and Wildlife Service to provide endangered Species status to the Monarchs. In December 2014 the USFWS determined that endangered species protection for Monarchs may be justified. The USFWS is now in a 12-month review period, during which a public PETITION is underway.

Obama Sets Up Task Force to Protect Bees and Butterflies

Artwork: Mike LaMark

Earlier this year we wondered what Rachel Carson would have thought about the remarkable collapse of honey bee colonies here and abroad. The official view of the Environmental Protection Agency is that the causes are numerous, with mites and neonicotinoid pesticides being the main culprits. Last year the European Union acted and banned the use of four pesticides for two years in order to protect bees. (more…)

Act to Save the Bees, and Our Food

Artwork: Mike LaMark

You have probably heard that around the world bee colonies are collapsing at an alarming rate.  Last year the European Union banned the use of three pesticides containing neonicotinoids. These compounds are believed to be at the root cause of the colony collapse, and are present in pesticides made by Bayer and Syngenta. Last March a group of environmental groups sued the EPA for the agency’s approval of such pesticides, followed by a similar suit against the EPA by the beekeeping industry in December.

Frustrated by the lack of response from the EPA, Congressmen Conyers (D-MI) and Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the “Save America’s Pollinators Act” (H.R.2692 ) which will suspend the use of toxic, bee-killing pesticides until a full review of scientific evidence indicates they are safe and a field study demonstrates they do no harm to bees and other pollinators.  Urge your Congressman to co-sponsor the ‘Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2013’.

Protect Our Forests – Keep the Endangered Species Process Science-Based

ACTION: Tell your State Representative that you oppose HB 1576. (See below for talking points.)

The push to drill wherever in the Marcellus Shale area is relentless, from county parks to state forests. A recent NPR interview dealt with the fragmentation of Pennsylvania’s forest due to drilling activity, new roads, and pipelines. Of particular concern is the disturbance of the rare areas of ‘core forests’ deep in the woods. Now the gas industry is seeking to remove restrictions on where they may drill in the forests. (more…)

Legislators Failing to Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Endangered Species Act

Photo: Sierra Club

ACTION: Tell your State Representative and State Senator that you oppose HB 1576 and SB 1047.

The last day of 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of when Republican President Richard Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act, making the US the first nation with a bill of rights for a species other than our own. Those were the days! Today Republicans in the state legislature are attempting to de-fang our own state endangered species program in order to accommodate the gas drilling industry. The two bills, HB 1576 and SB 1047, are now in committee. They would restrict the Fish and Game Commissions’ ability to protect threatened and endangered species of fish and wildlife — allowing more mining, more drilling and more clear-cutting on Pennsylvania’s lands.

Fracking, Forests, and Endangered Species

Photo: Allegheny Defense Project

ACTION: Tell your State Representative and State Senator that you oppose HB 1576 and SB 1047.

The push to drill wherever in the Marcellus Shale area is relentless, from county parks to state forests. A recent NPR interview dealt with the fragmentation of Pennsylvania’s forest due to drilling activity, new roads, and pipelines. Of particular concern is the disturbance of the rare areas of ‘core forests’ deep in the woods. Now the gas industry is seeking to remove restrictions on where they may drill in the forests. (more…)

Habitat of Endangered Bats Threatened by State Lumbering Plan

Photo: State of South Dakota

The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and the Dept. Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) are seeking permission to destroy habitat for the federally listed endangered Indiana bat. In a Dec. 12 letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a group of environmental organizations objected to the Pennsylvania plan to log 3.9 million acres of state lands. Earlier this year the PGC planned establish a program to protect the bats, which are suffering from a plague of the fungal white-nose syndrome. PGC surveys have shown a 99 percent drop in northern long-eared bats and little brown bats and 98 percent decline in tri-colored bats, since 2008. The lumber industry opposed that plan, and now the PGC and DCNR appear to be heading in an opposite direction.

Example of Action by Our Endangered Species and Global Warming Teams – Tabling at the Zoo.

Action Teams tabling at Pittsburgh Zoo, Nov. 16. Photo: Allegheny Group

Group Chair Barbara Grover reports: On Saturday, Nov. 16, the Endangered Species and Global Warming Action Teams tabled at the Pittsburgh Zoo for the Polar Bears’ Birthday (ages 13 and 9) celebration. They provided children’s activities (e.g. word searches, puzzles, mazes, activity packets, netting endangered species in a ‘pond’) as well as adult information on endangered species issues, fracking, and Tar Sands Oil. T-shirts and 2014 Sierra Club calendars were available for modest donations. (more…)

Protect the State Endangered Species Law

Photo: Sierra Club

ACTION: Tell your State Representative and State Senator that you oppose HB 1576 and SB 1047.

The gas drilling and mining industries are going after the protectors of Pennsylvania’s threatened and endangered species. These industries claim that the PA Fish and Boat Commission and the PA Game Commission are hindering their plans to develop projects. They would like the agencies to get out of their way.

Two bills, HB 1576 and SB 1047, may be voted on as early as next week.

For decades, these agencies have implemented programs to protect threatened, endangered, and rare species, such as the osprey, the great egret, the bog turtle, the banded sunfish and wild trout. These programs have been largely successful in protecting habitat and restoring wildlife. (more…)

Changing Climate Already Affecting Wildlife

NASA image

ACTION: Ask your Congressman and Senators Casey and Toomey what they are doing to slow down the change in our climate.

A basic ecological tenet is that all natural things are interconnected. That is clearly evident by the impact of a warming clime in North America. A delayed onset of winter means a healthier population of winter ticks late into Fall, contributing to a drastic reduction in the number of moose in Minnesota and Montana, one herd falling from 4,000 in the 90’s to one hundred today. In the Rockies the mountain pine bark beetle is moving to higher elevations, killing off whitebark pines, and thereby removing a source of pine nuts for birds, squirrels, and grizzly bears. In 2010 in the Greater Yellowstone Area there were 602 grizzly bears – today there are fewer than 140. Migration is not usually an option for isolated mountain populations, but along the Maine coast lobsters are migrating further off shore to seek cooler waters. Tell that to your climate change denier friends.

State Legislators meet Resistance to Weaken Protection of Endangered Species

Photo: PA Game Commission

On September 18 a hearing was held in Freeport regarding a bill that would shift responsibility for the state’s endangered species program from the Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission to the legislature. In favor of the bill were the Aggregate and Concrete Association and the PA Coal Association. In opposition to the bill, representatives of the PA Federation of Sportsman Clubs, PennFuture, PA Fish and Boat Commission, and the PA Game Commission argued that the bill is unnecessary, violates the intent of the federal Endangered Species Act, introduces economic considerations and politics into decisions on the listing and delisting of species, which is specifically prohibited by the current law, and would fail to fix “problems” it purports to solve. (more…)

State’s Endangered Species and Wild Trout Under Attack

September 17, 2013
10:00 amto12:00 pm

ACTION: Tell your State Representative to oppose HR 1576.

NOTE: A hearing on HB 1576 will be held:
10 a.m. Tuesday September 17
IUP Northpointe Campus,
167 Northpointe Blvd., Building 167, Room 129.
Freeport PA 16229

House Bill 1576 would blunt the effect of the state’s list of threatened and endangered species of fish and wildlife, allowing more mining, drilling and clear-cutting in Pennsylvania’s lands. The Fish and Boat and the Game Commissions would have to go through a very cumbersome regulatory review process. In addition, the agencies would only be allowed to protect fish and wildlife already listed by the federal government. At the same time, permit applications for mining, oil and gas drilling, and timbering would be approved, without any on-the-ground check for their impacts on the PA endangered species. See the video of the Exec. Dir. of the Fish and Boat Comm. testifying at 2:35 mins. and the Sierra Club’s Tom Au testifying at 47:00 mins.

Celebrating International Endangered Species Day, May 17, 2013

To mark International Endangered Species Day, Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed a proclamation calling attention to the plight of endangered species. In the proclamation Council commend the Sierra Club Allegheny Group’s Endangered Species Action Team (ESAT) for the work it does by educating the public and advocating for endangered and threatened plants and animals. (more…)

Enviros Sue EPA Over Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder

Artwork: Mike LaMark

ACTION: Contact EPA’s Steve Owens at or call him at 1-202-5642902 to request a suspension of the neonicotinoid seed coatings until independent scientists verify safety.

Where is Rachel Caron when we need her? Two years ago a United Nations report highlighted the collapse of honeybee colonies around the world. Even last year there remained numerous possible explanations of this disorder, but today the most likely cause is believed to be the use of nicotine-based insecticides called neonicotinoids like imidacloprid and clothianidin, marketed by Bayer and Syngenta.

The EPA allowed “conditional registration” of neonicotinoid-based insecticides in 2003 but after a safety study conducted by Bayer itself, in 2010 the EPA granted unconditional use of these insecticides. As part of its Pollinator Protection Campaign, last week the Sierra Club joined beekeepers and other environmental organizations brought suit against the EPA. In referring to the Endangered Species Act and FIFRA, the plaintiffs want the court to remove EPA’s approval of products containing clothianidin and thiamethoxam and issue an immediate suspension of their use.

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