Public Lands Council ESA Reform Priorities

Public Lands Council ESA Reform Priorities

Russell Nemetz
Russell Nemetz
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) marked 50 years since enactment this year, and it has never been more evident that the law needs significant improvement. Despite several unsuccessful efforts to reform the law in whole over the last 25 years, commitment to a better way of identifying, recovering, and delisting species has never been higher.

The House Natural Resources Committee has established a bipartisan working group to identify opportunities for reform this Congress. This week, PLC affiliate NCBA participated in a Member briefing discussing ongoing issues with the Act, opportunities for improvement, and the role voluntary conservation plays.

What does PLC want to see? In any ESA reform effort, there are a few must-haves:

Recognition of voluntary conservation efforts as regulatory mechanisms during listing decisions, formation of recovery plans, and post-delisting efforts. Species will not persist without ranchers' contributions, but that work must be officially recognized and "counted" by part of the process.

Congressional direction to make the listing and delisting process more clear - and durable. Over time, there has been so much uncertainty in the delisting process that the vast majority of species that have been delisted have been due to extinction.

Make clear what constitutes best available science - and ensure that state and voluntary data is part of that discussion. No one knows their land (the habitat) better than land managers like ranchers, and that knowledge should be the first line of analysis.

Interrupt the unproductive cycle of litigation that has driven species listings for years. Uncertainty in the process and litigious extremists have created an untenable cycle of list-sue-settle that wastes time, resources, and causes undue regulatory burdens.

There's more, of course, but on these issues there is widespread support across political and ideological boundaries.

Source: PLC

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