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Endangered Species Act changes: A win for wildlife & future generations

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 7:40 am in Audubon Society, Endangered species, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wildlife.

Macho B, last known jaguar in U.S., died in early March. Photo by Arizona DFG.

Obama bounces Bush ESA changes.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday (April 28) that they would be dumping eleventh-hour Bush Administration changes to its Endangered Species Act that would have dramatically weakened the landmark wildlife protection law.

The decision will once again require federal agencies to consult with experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before taking action that could impact threatened or endangered species.

The endangered California Condor is one of the world’s rarest birds. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Scott Frier.

A number of national organizations had sued to roll back the Bush Administration changes that have now been repealed.

Here are interesting comments from some of these concerned organizations:

** Natural Resources Defense Council; “For decades, the Endangered Species Ac t has used sound science as the guide to protect America’s most vulnerable plants and animals. Today the Obama administration reaffirmed that politics should not be the driver of these protections. Our nation needs to start investing in new and better infrastructure projects, and restoring this law will make sure we do so without harming our endangered plants and animals.” (Comments from Rebecca Riley, an attorney with NRDC’s Endangered Species Program.)

** Audubon; “The Obama administration has given a great gift to wildlife and future generations. Once again, our nation will follow the letter of the law and the advice of its own best experts before jeopardizing the future of threatened and endangered species. The president has capped his first hundred days with a serious step toward restoring our commitment to this nation’s great natural heritage.” (Statement of Betsy Loyless, Audubon senior vice president for Advocacy and Policy.)

Bald eagle. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, Calif.

** Union of Concerned Scientists; “Today, the Obama administration restored critical checks and balances to protect our nation’s biodiversity. Interior Secretary Salazar’s decision is a long-awaited first step. But there is much more to be done. The Obama administration must thoroughly review how science is used to ensure that our nation’s imperiled species have a chance to survive — and thrive.” (Statement by Francesca Grifo, director of UCS’s Scientific Integrity program.)

** American Bird Conservancy; “The Western Oregon Plan Revisions, a plan to increase logging of mature and old growth forests in Oregon, is an example of why ESA consultation  is so important. The plan, which was approved without consulting with wildlife experts, reduces habitat protection for dwindling salmon stocks and increases take of the threatened Northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet including the elimination of an estimated 680 spotted owl sites over the course of its implementation. It should be withdrawn so that consultation can take place.” (Comments by Darin Schroeder, vice president for Conservation Advocacy at American Bird Conservancy.)

In other words … we should always be looking for ways to improve the Endangered Species Act … not weaken it. /Gary

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