After reading the recent interview with Kieran Suckling, it occurs to me the one reason we're having so much trouble advancing meaningful conservation opportunities is we're spending too much time, energy and money fighting each other (HCN, 12/21/09 & 1/4/10).
The litigation and lawsuits advanced by the Center for Biological Diversity are having the exact opposite effect from that suggested by Mr. Suckling. They have cost taxpayers countless millions and not a single dime of that money is making its way to the ground where it is needed most to protect forests, wetlands and other wildlife habitat. The CBD may think it is forcing agencies to be responsive while achieving results not possible in the absence of litigation, but the vast majority of concerned conservationists may disagree. Many of us feel the money would be better spent on the ground rather than responding to multiple lawsuits and countless petitions.
Agency personnel are paralyzed by the lawsuit frenzy and they are no longer willing or able to exercise any level of risk or innovation, even when it will serve important environmental and conservation objectives. Agency personnel have traditionally seen themselves as entrepreneurial but the vast majority have grown so wary of potential litigation they are unable to take risks. Sadly, balancing reasonable economic and environmental objectives has become virtually impossible without threat of litigation.
Not that long ago we tried to work out our differences face-to-face instead of through lawyers. Our continued desire to protect land, plants and animals should be driven by the desire to cooperate -- not because we might get sued.
Las Vegas, Nevada