One thing before the weekend…

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Breeding pairs of our national bird went from 791 in 1974 (just after creation of the Endangered Species Act) to nearly 10,000 today.  Their populations have outperformed wage growth in the United States for nearly a half-century.  The incongruity of a bronze Bald Eagle sitting on the desk of a senator who insists the Endangered Species Act doesn’t work shouldn’t go unnoticed, and should raise a lot of questions in the public’s mind.

Scores of plants and animals have been recovered and delisted since the 1970’s.  The system isn’t perfect, sometimes it’s too little, too late, and by definition, different species are different: our knowledge of their life history and habitat needs are imperfect, and there is no standard strategy which guarantees across-the-board success.  But the Endangered Species Act does work; a species was de-listed just days before draft legislation to “update” the Endangered Species Act was released.

The bill’s gained a lot of support among the ag industry, timber, petroleum, off-road vehicle advocates…plus a head-scratching number of Red State fish and game agencies- Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Arizona.  If you live in those states, I’d suggest contacting your Department and asking what’s up.  The bill ostensibly seeks to increase state-level leadership in endangered species conservation…through the sort of initiatives already in place.  Parts of the bill which really left me scratching my head were:

  • An emphasis on using the best scientific and commercial science available (emphasis mine).  Are we talking about robust, rigorous data collected from private contractors and consultants…or provided by industry lobbyists?

And perhaps more ominously…

  • ” any comment submitted to the Secretary of Interior by a State (as defined in section 3 of that Act (16 U.S.C 1532)) should be afforded greater weight by the Secretary than a comment received from any other individual or entity…

How would this effect groups like Trout Unlimited and their ability to advocate for coldwater fisheries?  Heck, how would it effect my constitutionally protected rights to petition my government?!

Find the entire draft bill here.  I certainly have a lot of questions and if you do too- contact your senator, or the members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

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