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Environmentalists intervene to help warbler

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Four conservation groups on Tuesday filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to end Endangered Species Act protection for one of Austin’s most famous songbirds, the golden-cheeked warbler. The lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was filed by the Texas General Land Office, represented by attorneys at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a right-wing think tank. “We’re not going to let rich developers collude with the Trump administration to push these beautiful little birds toward extinction,” said Ryan Shannon, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, via email. “Warblers belong in the Hill Country. Fish and Wildlife experts rightly found the birds are still at risk from reckless development, so we’re intervening to make sure the administration doesn’t settle this case and tamper with the agency’s science-based decision.” In addition to the Center for Biological Diversity, the groups intervening in the lawsuit include the Travis Audubon Society, Texas Ornithological Society and Defenders of Wildlife. Also on Tuesday, a federal judge granted the Save Our Springs Alliance and the Center for Biological Diversity permission to expand their existing lawsuit to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s approval of construction of the MoPac Intersections project across the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. The groups argue that the federal approval was in error and that the state of Texas has not done enough to prevent harm to the federally protected Barton Springs salamander, the Austin blind salamander and the golden-cheeked warbler.

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