The Allegation: In a cover story titled "The Butterfly Problem," in the January 1992 issue of The Atlantic, the authors portrayed an Oregon developer whose lifelong dream of carving fairways on a section of the Oregon coast was snuffed out in the morass of Endangered Species Act protection of an endangered butterfly.
The Response: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel helped the developer obtain an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act, recognizing that development of a Habitat Conservation Plan in connection with the golf course would assist the long-term survival of the butterfly. The developer, however, was unable to satisfy Oregon's land-use planning laws on grounds unrelated to the ESA, and the project was abandoned.
The widow's story
The Allegation: In testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in April 1992, a representative of the National Cattlemen's Association told of a widow near Austin, Texas, who wanted to clear her fencerow of brush, only to be threatened with prosecution by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Response: The woman was advised by the Service that her clearing of a 30-foot-wide, one-mile-long fencerow might harm endangered songbird nesting habitat, but after Service representatives met with her and assessed the situation, she was given the go-ahead to clear the fencerow.
Examples from Facts About the Endangered Species Act, an in-house publication of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.