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Know the West

We need sensible ESA reform


I am a member of the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation and other environmental organizations. However, I believe that blind opposition to any reasonable reform of the Endangered Species Act is eventually going to lead to unreasonable reform. Indeed, I believe that is why we are looking at reform legislation right now in Congress (HCN, 3/20/06: The trouble with the Endangered Species Act is us).

There are two serious problems with the ESA. One is the insistence of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on using the precautionary principle, which says it should list if it believes that the possibility of endangerment may exist. This leads to the listing of species or sub-species without proper scientific knowledge, i.e., the lesser long-nosed bat in Arizona, supposedly endangered but now known to exist in the millions, or the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse in Colorado, supposedly threatened but now known to exist in the tens of thousands.

The other serious problem is the taking of private property without just compensation. And the old dog-in-the-manger fable about enriching developers does not wash. Time after time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes the use and value from farmers, ranchers or individuals far more than from developers. If the protection of endangered species and the environment is a national goal, then the burden of that protection should fall on all of us.

Robert B. Hoff

Colorado Springs, Colorado