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The Endangered Species Act vs. Land Owners. Whose side are you on?. Lisa D. Hunter, PRTM 820. Overview. Creation of the Act The List Case: What would you do? ESA at work Resolve. The Act. Created in 1973

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The endangered species act vs land owners l.jpg

The Endangered Species Act vs.Land Owners

Whose side are you on?

Lisa D. Hunter, PRTM 820

Overview l.jpg

  • Creation of the Act

  • The List

  • Case: What would you do?

  • ESA at work

  • Resolve

The act l.jpg
The Act

  • Created in 1973

  • Was to “…provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved, to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species, and to take such steps as may be appropriated to achieve the purposes of the treaties and conventions…”

Intentions l.jpg

  • Save endangered or threatened species from becoming extinct.

    • Maintain/increases biodiversity

  • Focus on more ‘noble’ species

    • Bald Eagle

    • “Cuddly Species”

  • Protection from hunting

    • Exception: Native Americans

The list l.jpg
‘The List’

  • Contains 1,263 species

    • 249 candidate species

    • 36 species proposed for listing

      • USFWS, May 2003

  • Cost for protection varies:

    • $21 to $46 Billion

      • Would you pay this?

      • What else would you do with $21 - $46 Billion?

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Errors in ‘The List’

  • Undercounted “Data Errors”

    • Concho Water Snake (Texas) endangered, 1977

    • Threatened in 1986 – population estimate of 111 from 135 in 1977

    • 1996 population estimate:


    • Cost to tax payers:

      $3 Million

Slide7 l.jpg

Taxonomically invalid - range either underestimated or threat overestimated

Still considered a ‘data error’

How does this happen?

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RC Woodpecker threat overestimated

Bald Eagle

Wood Stork

Piping Plover

Eastern Indigo Snake

Indiana Bat

Carolina Heelsplitter

Flatwoods Salamander

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Bog Turtle

Loggerhead Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle

Protected Species in SC

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How the ESA Works threat overestimated

  • What happens:

    As a land owner, you are required to have the species/habitat accounted for

    Typically someone hires wildlife biologists to conduct an EIS on their property

    If the species is found you cannot develop

  • But is this your land?

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5 threat overestimatedth Amendment Rights:

  • No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

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Progress? threat overestimated

  • What kind of progress are we making?

  • 25 species removed

    • 7 recovered

    • 7 extinct

    • 11 ‘data errors’

  • ?? people have lost their land

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Case 1: Yuba County Water District threat overestimated

  • Restoration work needed – 30 miles

  • EIS: revealed 43 clumps of Elderberry bushes growing around levees

  • Valley Longhorn Elderberry Beetle

  • Grand total:

    $2.3 million

    $55, 800/clump


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Case 2: What would you do? threat overestimated

  • While vacationing on the coast you notice someone collecting turtles you know are endangered.

  • You friends family lost some land because of an endangered species last year and went bankrupt.

  • Would you turn them in, or let it slide?

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Case 3: What would you do? threat overestimated

  • You bought 1,000 acres with the intentions of building a home for your family, a barn, big garage, and a guest house for your mother-in-law when she visits.

  • Plan to leave 50% of the property wild

  • One day you find a RCW on your property prior to development

  • What do you do?

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Who or What is the ESA Really Protecting? threat overestimated

  • Do you think you are more important than fish?

    • April, 2001 – Klamath Basin: 1,500 family farms had water cut off to save the sucker fish.

    • July 2001 – Okanogan National Forest: urgent requests for helicopter water drops were delayed for hours –

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Who Pays? threat overestimated

  • Who should pay for a public good?

  • If you are a private land owner and cannot develop your land, should you continue to pay taxes on something you cannot use?

  • Is the land still even yours?

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Resolve: threat overestimated

  • Although the ESA was created with the best of intentions, the act has failed to protect the species placed under its protection, and it has failed to provide any type of protection to land owners.

  • The ESA has caused more harm than good to the private land owner and should be removed from our legal system.

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Questions? threat overestimated

Not too many – save some for my group on Tuesday 

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Sources threat overestimated







Slide21 l.jpg threat overestimated

Society of American Foresters