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 • 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 • 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’ • 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?
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: ~70,000 • Cost to tax payers: $3 Million
Taxonomically invalid - range either underestimated or threat overestimated Still considered a ‘data error’ How does this happen?
RC Woodpecker 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
How the ESA Works • 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?
5th 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.
Progress? • What kind of progress are we making? • 25 species removed • 7 recovered • 7 extinct • 11 ‘data errors’ • ?? people have lost their land
Case 1: Yuba County Water District • 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 $1,495/stem
Case 2: What would you do? • 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?
Case 3: What would you do? • 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?
Who or What is the ESA Really Protecting? • 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 –
Who Pays? • 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?
Resolve: • 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.
Questions? Not too many – save some for my group on Tuesday
Sources • http://www.edf.org/ • http://www.environmentaldefense.org/system/templates/page/issue.cfm?subnav=7 • http://laws.fws.gov/lawsdigest/esact.html • http://www.nesarc.org/ • http://cnie.org/NLE/CRSreports/Biodiversity/biodv-8.cfm • http://www.watchtower.org/library/g/1996/8/8/endangered_the_scope.htm
http://endangered.fws.gov/whatwedo.html http://www.nesarc.org/ http://www.crowley-offroad.com/home.htm http://www.open-spaces.com Society of American Foresters www.safnet.org http://www.nwi.org/TechnicalReports/SafeHarborAct.html http://www.edf.org/documents/929_handbook.htm