Protecting and preserving our planet’s natural resources is one of our firm’s central goals. We protect bio-diversity by suing to protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats and to keep our air and water clean. We preserve our open spaces by assisting our clients in negotiating and preparing land conservation easements. We conserve resources by assisting the businesses who see our current environmental crises as opportunities to build cleaner technologies and support renewable energies with their legal and business-structuring needs.
The environmental laws of the United States work together to protect our natural world. The Endangered Species Act works to conserve and recover species that are nearing extinction and to set aside the habitat they need to recover. The Clean Water Act works to limit discharge of toxic chemicals into our water supply. The Clean Air Act limits the pollutants that can be discharged into our atmosphere. The National Environmental Policy Act helps to ensure that the government contemplates environmental consequences when it acts.
Our firm is currently involved in several different types of Endangered Species Act litigation. While we have been successful in achieving protection for species and their habitats on many occasions, our work is far from over. Scientists estimate there are between 6,000 and 9,000 species on the brink of extinction. The Endangered Species Act provides many powerful protections, but its most powerful provision is one that grants citizens of the United States the right to petition on behalf of species. We protect our clients’ rights under this statute by fighting on their behalf and on behalf of the species and habitats they want to preserve.
The Jaguarundi is an alley-cat-sized endangered feline with a 20 inch tail that lives in Texas and Arizona. This small wild cat has thirteen distinct vocal sounds and like to hunt lizards and small insects. It is a secretive creature and difficult to learn much about. Though this species is listed as endangered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, no recovery plan has been implemented and, therefore, its survival is still at risk.
The Mississippi Gopher Frog was the subject of a suit to press the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for the species. The frog’s last remaining breeding pond is located next to a site that the Fish and Wildlife Service cleared for building a massive retirement community. The Service agreed to designate habitat, but the Frog not out of the woods yet. The deadline for that habitat designation has passed, but the Service has not yet provided the agreed-upon protections.
We worked with WildEarth Guardians to petition the Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Porbeagle Shark as a threatened or endangered species. The species is already considered a species of concern in the United States and endangered in Canada. On average, female porbeagle sharks do not reproduce until they reach about fourteen years of age. Over-fishing and shark-fin hunting are this species’ largest threats. (Photo from dsc.discovery.com)
The Sand Dune Lizard is a small, light brown lizard with a grayish-brown band that extends from ear to tail. This lizard is found only on sand dune complexes associated with shinnery oak. It is endemic to a small area in southeastern New Mexico and adjacent Texas.
The Scott’s Riffle Beetle is a very rare beetle that lives among the rock substrates in a single stream in Lake Scott State Park in Kansas. This stream is fed solely by the Ogallala Aquifer. The Aquifer, underlying eight Great Plains States, is being drained at a rate that will empty it in less than 20 years. The Beetle is not the only living creature that will suffer extreme survival problems when the Aquifer is drained, and the Great Plains states depend on the Aquifer for irrigation and well water.
The Southern Hickorynut historically ranged from Alabama to eastern Texas and in the Mississippi River as far north as southeastern Missouri. Currently the Southern Hickorynut only occurs within the Mississippi south and Big Black River drainages, with a single solitary small population inhabiting southeast Texas. The species is also known to exist in the Ouachita and White river systems of Arkansas, with separate and distinct populations in southeastern Missouri and southwestern Tennessee.
The Smooth Pimpleback is native to the Brazos and Colorado river drainage basins in Central Texas. Small numbers of Smooth Pimplebacks are still present in the Brazos River drainage between Hood and Brazos counties and at two sites in the Leon River, but the species has vanished from much of its historic range.
The Texas Pimpleback has historically been found in the Guadalupe and Colorado River systems of central Texas. Texas Pimplebacks have been found alive at only four locations since 1992: a site on the San Saba River west of Menard, Runnels County creek north of Ballinger, the Concho River near Paint Rock, and the upper San Marcos River near its confluence with the Blanco River.
The False Spike historically occurred in two distinct populations: one in the Rio Grande system in New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico; and the other in the Brazos, Colorado, and Guadalupe river systems of central Texas. This species was last seen alive in the mid 1970s. It has all but vanished from its historic range, with two recently-dead specimens appearing in April 2000 in the lower San Marcos River, a tributary of the Guadalupe River.
The Texas Fawnsfoot range in color from gray-green, greenish-brown, orange-brown, to dark brown, and often have greenish rays, zig-zags, or chevrons. Historically, the Texas Fawnsfoot was found in the Colorado and Brazos river drainages of Central Texas. In 2004, seven living species were found in the Brazos river, while a recently-dead specimen was found in the Colorado River in 2000. It has virtually vanished from its historic range, and is at extreme risk of extinction.
The Mexican Fawnsfoot is historically endemic to the main channel of the Rio Grande; the lower Pecos River near Del Rio, Texas; downstream to Laredo County, Texas; and through the Rio Salado of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, Mexico. This species was discovered living near Laredo in 2002, the first documented discovery of a living specimen of this species in three decades.