For Immediate Release: January 5, 2011
Contact: Dr. Mark Rockwell, California Representative, Endangered Species Coalition,
V.P. Conservation, Federation of Fly Fishers, 530 559-5759
Leda Huta, Executive Director, Endangered Species Coalition: 202-320-6467
San Francisco Bay Delta Named as One of America’s Top Ten Conservation Priority
New report identifies top 10 ecosystems to save for
endangered species in a warming world
Sacramento, California, The San Francisco Bay-Delta was named one of the top 10 places to save for wildlife, fish and plants on the brink of extinction, according to a new report released today by the Endangered Species Coalition and its member groups.
The report, It’s Getting Hot Out There: Top 10 Places to Save for Endangered Species in a Warming World, examines how the changing climate is harming habitat and increasing the risk of extinction for imperiled fish, plants, and wildlife. It stresses the importance of protecting key ecosystems.
“Climate change is no longer a distant threat on the horizon,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “It has arrived and is threatening ecosystems that we all depend upon, and our endangered species are particularly vulnerable.”
The Bay-Delta is the largest estuary in the western U.S., and is critically important to many species of fish and wildlife. Many of California’s major rivers flow into the Delta, making it a focal point for water, and therefore fish, wildlife and plants. In recent years the Delta has suffered from over use and abuse of its resources, with increased water extraction, toxic inflows and invasive species the top stressors. Biologists have described the current state of the Delta as “in a critical state of collapse.” The Delta is home to species like the Delta Smelt, and a spawning and growing area for migrating species like Chinook salmon, Green Sturgeon, waterfowl and many species of raptors. As the report correctly identifies, the Bay-Delta is a critically important place to save, and requires attention immediately.
A team of top scientists helped identify these ten ecosystems as hotspots for threatened and endangered species, many of which are highly vulnerable to climate change now. Coalition members nominated the ecosystems for inclusion in the report, and the submissions were then reviewed and judged by the scientists. For each ecosystem, the report identifies some of the endangered species that live there, as well as the necessary conservation measures that will be required to help them to survive.
“For species that are already struggling on the brink of extinction, global climate change threatens to push them over the edge,” said Huta. “We certainly need to reduce global warming pollution, but we also need to act now to prioritize and protect some of the most important ecosystems for imperiled wildlife. Endangered species don't have the luxury of waiting for the traditionally slow political process.”
“2011 will be a critically important year for the Bay-Delta”, said Dr. Mark Rockwell, California representative for the Endangered Species Coalition. The state and the federal government are currently trying to work out corrective actions in the Delta Stewardship Council and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan process. These groups are tasked with finding balance between water needs, recovery of the system for fish and wildlife and protection against sea level rise and earth quakes. “We encourage them to take new and innovative actions that can provide needed water, recover threatened and endangered species, and bring biological balance back to the system. Solutions will require the political will to resist business as usual,” said Dr. Rockwell.
According to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 20 to 30 percent of the world's species will be at an increased risk of extinction if global temperature increases exceed 1.5 to 2.5° C (3 to 5° F) above pre-industrial levels. It is important to note that we have already experienced a 1 degree increase. The climate threats to species include increased disease, diminished reproduction, lost habitat, reduced food supply, and other impacts.
Safeguarding Species in a Warming World
It’s Getting Hot Out There calls for the Obama administration and Congress to provide the tools and resources necessary to protect these key ecosystems from global climate change. The Coalition would also like to see climate change factored into all future endangered species-related decisions in order to help prevent species from disappearing forever.
This is the list of top 10 ecosystems to save for endangered species featured in the report. There is no priority to the list – all are equally important:
1. The Arctic Sea Ice, home to the polar bear, Pacific walrus and at least 6 species of seal.
2. Shallow Water Coral Reefs, home to the critically endangered elkhorn and staghorn coral.
3. The Hawaiian Islands, home to more than a dozen imperiled birds, and 319 threatened and endangered plants.
4. Southwest Deserts, home to numerous imperiled plants, fish, and mammals.
5. The San Francisco Bay-Delta, home to the imperiled Pacific salmon, Swainson’s hawk, tiger salamander and Delta smelt.
6. California Sierra Mountains, home to 30 native species of amphibian, including the Yellow-legged frog.
7. The Snake River Basin, home to four imperiled runs of salmon and steelhead.
8. Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, home to the imperiled Whitebark pine, an important food source for animals, including the threatened Grizzly bear.
9. The Gulf Coast’s flatlands and wetlands, home to the Piping and Snowy plovers, Mississippi sandhill crane, and numerous species of sea turtles.
10. The Greater Everglades, home to 67 threatened and endangered species, including the manatee and the red cockcaded woodpecker.
Seven additional ecosystems were nominated but not selected for the Top 10. They nonetheless contain important habitat for imperiled species, and include: Glacier National Park, Jemez Mountains, Sagebrush steppe, U.S. West Coast, The Maine Woods, The Grasslands of the Great Plains, and the Southern Rocky Mountains.
The full report, which includes information on each ecosystem, as well as recommended conservation measures, is available online at www.StopExtinction.org  and at www.itsgettinghotoutthere.org .
The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network of hundreds of conservation, scientific, religious, sporting, outdoor recreation, business and community organizations working to protect endangered species and their habitat