Endangered Species Act Reform: Wyoming Leads the Charge

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Agriculture groups and elected officials from rural communities are coming out strong in support of the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018. The bill, sponsored by Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso, would give more power to state and local governments to make a decision based on their areas unique landscapes, induvial needs, and conditions on the ground. Barrasso who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, held a hearing on the bill this week and believes reforms must take place for species to recover and be taken off the list entirely.

During the hearing, Sen. Barrasso shared that, “since the ESA was signed into law only 54 out of 2393 species listed in the US and foreign countries have been delisted because they have recovered that's less than 3{4c92fa2179cbca4bed3bb0c6c6ce267033d9d158a5f4060fb03bde3d74c11c2b}.” Barrasso, a doctor by trade, made the point that that would be unacceptable in his practice, “if I admit a hundred patients to the hospital and only three recover enough under my treatment to be discharged I would deserve to lose my medical license with numbers like.”

The Senator also stressed that the status quo is not good enough for species listed on the ESA.

 “We must do more than just list species and leave them on life support, but that's what we're doing now. We need to see species recovered,” Barrasso told his Senate colleagues.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead also testified during the hearing and shared stories of successes of the ESA. Some examples he shared included the recovery and delisting of grizzly bears and gray wolves in Wyoming. With those successes have also come with many challenges. 

“These success stories are a testament to the ESA’s ability to prevent extinction. The ESA was an incentive for individuals to work together to keep the greater sage-grouse from being listed under the ESA” said Mead. “Wyoming brought together diverse interested groups to develop a scientifically based and common-sense strategy for preserving the bird.  Wyoming's plan served as a model for other western states and federal agencies preventing the need to list sage-grouse is a success story.”

Governor Mead also discussed a few of what he believes to be the ESA’s greatest failings.

 “Nearly 30{4c92fa2179cbca4bed3bb0c6c6ce267033d9d158a5f4060fb03bde3d74c11c2b} of all listed species have no recovery plan, and litigation often dictates states and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service priorities and workload” said Mead. “The ESA hasn't been substantially amended since 1988 so now it is time in my view to have this discussion, and again I so appreciate the opportunity.”

This week The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) launched an online campaign to educate the public on the need for a modernized Endangered Species Act. The campaign, which focuses on the ranching industry, highlights the importance of working landscapes in improving ecological services and achieving species conservation targets. Click here for more on the campaign. 

Northern Ag Network 2018


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