Endangered Species Act Changes Expected Soon In Congress
Action Deadline June 20, 2005
The Resources Committee is in the final stages of deciding what provisions will
go into a draft bill for Congress to consider how to update and modernize the ESA. You still have time to make a difference.
Your personal involvement is easy and critical. See below.
The Resources Committee will come out with a bill sometime soon. Probably within
the next month or two. From there the ESA bill will begin a long and difficult
road through the Resources Committee and on to the House of Representatives.
If it passes out of the House, it will then begin a similar difficult trip
through the Senate. That is likely going to be more difficult than the House.
The provisions you want in the bill are not going to get there unless you fight
for them. Whining and moaning that one or another particular provision we really
want is not there will get us nowhere. All of us must take action now.
The Resources Committee will pass what is possible. You must help make it
If enough people get excited and fight for certain provisions, then they may
well survive the process. If you lay back and put the load on your Congressman
or the members of the Resources Committee, you’re likely to lose in the end.
Compensation is a critical issue to most of us who believe the ESA must be fixed
so it can actually recover species. At this point it is a failure having helped
recover only 10 out of 1300 species.
Landowners must be made to be allies of the process of recovering species. They
must not have to do it with a gun to their heads.
Voluntary and incentive based language is critical here. And landowners must be
compensated when they take land out of production to benefit a species.
Some will oppose these changes. They will be very aggressively opposed by
How hard you fight through your letters, phone calls, faxes and e-mails to your
Congressman and the Resources Committee will determine whether the provisions
you support survive.
- Property Rights: The Act should require compensation for
regulatory takings. Federal agencies should be subject to a statutorily
directed preference for using voluntary, un-coerced contracts with
property owners for a temporary lease or agreement to manage land for
the benefit of a listed species. A deal is a deal, the government should
be bound by any agreement it makes with a landowner.
- Incentives: Use Voluntary, Contractual, Compensated Habitat
Management that would increase the quality of wildlife habitat while
lessening the conservation disincentives contained in current law.
Exempt a property owner from land use regulation when his management
practices create or maintain habitat for endangered species. Create an ESA version of the CRP and require a substantial part of funding go to
the ESA/CRP program.
- Make Safe Harbor agreements user friendly and truly safe.
- The definition of "take" should be changed to require a direct
and proximate connection between the action and the loss of a specific
individual member of a listed species.
- Science: The definition of species should incorporate new
scientific information on the genetic make-up of species. Require
independent peer review of the science used in listing.
- Require Independent Scientific Review, what some have called “sound
- Conservation of subspecies and distinct populations should be
actively promoted but these categories should not be covered by the
regulatory parts of the Act. Species that are beneficial or unique
should be given priority.
- Economic Considerations: Base listing decisions on science,
but subject any restrictions to consideration of economic and social
factors. Require ECONOMIC IMPACT ANALYSES.
- A sunset provision should be added to ESA so the act expires
after 5 years unless re-authorized. Require species to be re-listed or dropped
from the list after 10 years.
- Requiring completion or amendment of recovery plans before designating
- Require that any listing or critical habitat designations be based on
actual verified field data demonstrating the presence of the species and
not based on scientific "hypothesis" that the species may one day be present.
- Amend the definition of critical habitat to require that FWS find the
area itself is essential to the conservation of the species and requires
special management measures based on actual verifiable field data and
not simply because FWS has found that the species Primary Constituent
Elements (PCEs) are present.
- Require FWS to utilize data developed by State, local and regional
wildlife agencies in making Critical Habitat and listing decisions.
- Require the FWS to work on recovery not just listing more species.
- Require regionally even enforcement. Fairy shrimp-like
crustaceans, for example, occur in eastern metropolitan areas and
although they are more endangered than California fairy shrimp, the FWS
refuses to list them.
- Federalism. The general primacy of state authority over
wildlife should recognized in ESA.
- Reimburse agencies for ESA costs from the FWS budget.
- Place restrictions on introduced, experimental populations.
- Expedite permits. Secretary must issue or deny within 90 days.
- Exemptions for human health and safety and permitted activities.
- Add transparency, openness and privacy protection provisions.
- Consider, analyze and test alternative recovery strategies.
- Include landowners in decision-making. 24. Have a no-net-loss of private property provision.
- Have a no-net-loss of private property
Reminder –Deadline—Monday, June 20th. Get your
testimony in the official hearing record of the Resources Committee. Send your
filled out Testimony Questionnaires to the American Land Rights Association at
PO Box 400, Battle Ground, WA 98604. Or fax it to (360) 687-2973. You can also
send them to the Resources Committee directly. The Committee information is
Send your priority issues list to
You can also send your send your testimony to:
Resources Committee FAX: (202) 225-5929
Need more information -- phone: (360) 687-3087
Cushman, Charles. "Endangered Species Act Changes
Expected Soon In Congress" 10 June 2005.
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