ESA - At Any Cost

5/12/2014 2:25:55 PM


Federal government run amok seems to be a prominent, and prevalent, theme these days.  Between the attempted take-over of private land by the Bureau of Land Management to the expansion of the Clean Waters Act proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington bureaucrats are having a heyday with private land owners.  Those of us in rural America seem to be bearing the brunt of these foolish policies and our local economies are suffering.  You would think they would have learned their lesson by now with the disastrous Endangered Species Act.  Signed by President Nixon in 1973, the act was designed to protect both "the species and the ecosystem on which species depend."

All plants and invertebrates are eligible for protection from extinction at any cost. In 1978 the at any cost wording led the Supreme Court to enjoin a nearly completed $100 million dam funded by Congress and being built by the Tennessee Valley Authority because it would have endangered the Snail Darter Perch even though construction of the dam had begun before the ESA was passed. In 1979 Congress passed a rider on an appropriations bill that exempted the dam from the ESA and it was signed by President Jimmy Carter.  Interestingly, several other populations of the Snail Darter were eventually found elsewhere around the country and the species was delisted in the late 1980s.

This parallels current ESA cases in New Mexico.  Although there are enough wolves in the lower 48 to justify their delisting, which the United States Fish and Wildlife Service did earlier this year, the listing continues on the Mexican Grey Wolf, although many question the genetics which designate it as a separate species.  This despite the economic consequences to our ranchers, the decimation of the elk population in the Gila, and the fear felt by area students who have experienced wolves at their bus stops and school playgrounds.  The USFWS continues to push for increased wolf numbers at any cost.

Similarly, the recent listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) will have detrimental effects on area ranchers and farmers as they must adapt traditional cultivation and ranching methods in order to avoid the "taking" of this bird whose population directly correlates with our historic drought cycles.   It seems obvious that in the fourth year of an historic drought LPC numbers would be down, but that they will recover as soon as it rains.  In fact according to records, the bird has already been declared extinct twice in the last hundred years but whose numbers are now between 17,000 and 20,000.  That's endangered?  Yes it is when you are an environmentalist whose sole goal is to shut down oil and gas exploration in these areas.  Any excuse counts - at any cost.  

At NMF&LB we're working to lessen the effects of the ESA. In 1998 we joined with other groups to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over a critical habitat designation for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. In 2008 we were part of a lawsuit that prevented the listing of the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse, although that issue has resurfaced.  Currently we are working with the Pacific Legal Foundation to prevent critical habitat designation for the jaguar. Fortunately, we also have the help of the American Farm Bureau Federation.  In March they brought on Ryan Yates as Director of Congressional Relations for natural resource & public lands policies.  He is from the San Joaquin Valley and has a degree in agricultural business from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.  He has extensive
experience working on public land management issues while interacting closely with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.  We are excited about how partnering with AFBF, and the Pacific Legal Foundation will bring increased national attention to ESA issues and particularly the Western states.

As you can see, NMF&LB is working to defend your farm and ranch from the ravages of the ESA - at any cost.