The Endangered Species Act (ESA), the last barrier to extinction, the most important law in the United States for conserving biodiversity, is under attack, yet again. Since the 115th Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2017, it has already seen the introduction of at least 75 legislative attacks seeking to strip federal protections from specific species or undercut the ESA. Attempts at weakening protections for species are not limited to congressional actions, but can also be the subject of rule changes, such as a change adopted in 2016 which redefined endangerment, further changes that dismantled the ESA, and more recently, changes that weakened protections for threatened and endangered species.
During a time when we are experiencing an extinction crisis of stunning proportion with species’ extinction happening at a rate at least 100 times greater than what would be considered normal, we should be working to strengthen, not weaken, the ESA. We should be striving toward expanding habitat—utilizing areas that may have been former range, or areas needed for future habitat, deemed critical and necessary for species survival—not shrinking it.
Since it’s passage, the Endangered Species Act has helped reverse and stop declines in numerous species (pdf), in fact, only 1 percent of species protected by the law have gone extinct. In spite of this success rate, fueled by greed and rapacity, the Endangered Species Act is on the chopping block, again.
Please speak up, defend the Endangered Species Act! Deadline for commenting is September 4th, 11:59 p.m., ET.
Sample comment below, after which you will find a link for your submission.
The new definition of “habitat” being proposed by FWS will allow the agency to block setting aside any area that isn’t currently habitat but might be needed in the future, particularly as the climate changes. The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to help endangered species flourish and expand back into their former range (including habitat in need of restoration), this rule would accomplish the exact opposite, would likely hasten extinction crisis, and is a change which I strongly oppose.
This change would result in the exclusion of areas that do not meet the new, narrower definition of habitat, thereby decreasing the amount of habitat that can be protected. The move would serve as a grave setback to conservation—critical habitat, in its abundance is vital for stabilizing populations of threatened and endangered species. Listed species that have ample protected habitat are more than twice as likely to move toward recovery than species without it.
Limiting critical habitat designations will hamper recovery efforts and tie the hands of government agencies when designating habitat. Rather than providing the space they need to recover, expand, and thrive, the proposed new definition risks providing species just barely enough habitat for a meager existence, and, shamefully, comes at a time when the world is currently undergoing a biodiversity crisis (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53008292).
Nothing about this new definition helps animals and plants facing extinction. Habitat should not only “include areas with existing attributes that have the capacity to support individuals of the species,” but should/must include area that are able to be restored to such a condition.
Again, we should be working to strengthen, not weaken, the Endangered Species Act. I urge the USFWS and NOAA to withdraw the proposed rule listed under docket FWS-HQ-ES-2020-0047, issuing a new definition of “critical habitat” under the Endangered Species Act.
Thank you for taking the time for my submission.
Submit your comment here (due by September 4th, 11:59 p.m., ET). Note: Regulations.gov will undergo scheduled maintenance and will be unavailable Thursday, September 3, from 8:00 PM to 12:00 AM EST. During this time, beta.regulations.gov will be available for commenting. Type in this docket number for commenting: FWS-HQ-ES-2020-0047
Endangered Species Act: Hope for the Underdog
Humanity thrives on convenient slogans such as “win- win.” I wish it were that simple. It would make my job so much easier. We could have it all — development, timber, water, energy and the wildlife we love. Of course, as long as we’re dreaming, maybe we can bring back the passenger pigeon?
Strengthening the ESA, science-based decisionmaking, and properly funding the law will continue to help threatened and endangered species. Allowing endangered species the space they need and are entitled to, on the other hand, is also dependent on your consumption habits and choices. Tap image below for more information on how America uses its land.
The Grasshopper sparrow will probably go extinct
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