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In response to a 2012 petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and several renowned scientists and herpetologists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on April 9 that Endangered Species Act protection may be warranted for the western pond turtle. The agency will now conduct a one-year status review on the turtle, which faces declines of up to 99 percent in some areas. “Threats like habitat destruction from urbanization and agriculture are driving western pond turtles toward extinction,” said Collette Adkins, a Center biologist and lawyer.
The six UCSC students arrested in association with the March 3 blockade of Highway 1 where it meets Highway 17 in Santa Cruz returned to court on April 8. A prosecutor indicated the District Attorney's office will not offer them a plea deal to reduce misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and creating a public nuisance. The Santa Cruz DA also desires a restitution amount of $19,000 be paid. Additionally, UCSC has suspended the students until the Spring of 2016.
A new report released by Californians for Pesticide Reform asserts that fumigant pesticides are an outdated, toxic technology that undermines soil health, and safe replacements are needed to grow food on the Central Coast of California. The report examines data that revealed cancer-causing chloropicrin is in the air where Monterey County children live and play, and shares monitoring results that confirm chloropicrin in the city of Watsonville’s air poses an increased cancer risk, despite state required “safer tarps” and "buffer zones".
The only oil company to sue San Benito County over a local ban on fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations announced on April 6 it has dropped its lawsuit, leaving the voter-approved ordinance in place. Citadel Exploration’s decision to dismiss its own case means that local fracking bans in California face no remaining active legal challenges, despite threats from the oil industry.
Community members opposing the City of Monterey's new sit-lie ban held their third sit-in on Alvarado Street on April 3. Individuals with Direct Action Monterey Network (DAMN) and other supporters returned to the same location of the previous two demonstrations and faced increased pressure from business owners, who expressed more aggressively their desire for the group to either move the location of their gathering, or leave the downtown area altogether and stop protesting.
On March 28 in Monterey, about 75 people joined a broad coalition of activists in a rally and march starting at the Monterey Wharf to protest white supremacist police brutality in Salinas and nationwide. Thirty protesters marched to Highway One, blocked all four southbound lanes, and closed the highway for 45 minutes. Eight people in total were arrested. The action was organized in the context of the killing of five unarmed Latino men since March 2014 by white Salinas police officers: Angel Ruiz; Osman Hernandez; Carlos Mejia; Frank Alvarado, Jr.; and Jaime Garcia.
A newly completed assessment has found that monarch butterflies in North America are vulnerable to extinction. The assessment was undertaken by NatureServe and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and results were published in a report released by the U.S. Forest Service on March 9. “The time is now to intensify continent-wide efforts to reduce the threats to this iconic species and prevent it from succumbing to the fate that has befallen far too many other species,” said Bruce Young, NatureServe’s Director of Species Science.