Date: February 6, 1998
Contact: Dan Evans
Phone: (352) 373-6441
THERE IS STILL TIME! Your voice is needed to save the Enangered Species Act and endangered sea turtles! Your help NOW can make a big difference in the protection of endangered species in the United States.
A bad bill was introduced into the Senate by Sen. Kempthorne (S 1180). Kempthrone’s bill would lead to the demise of the strength and effectiveness of the ESA, including the use of Turtle Excluder Devices by shrimpers. Conservation organizations have been left out of the descussion of this bill. A bill that completely undermines Rep. Miller’s benefical Endangered Species Recovery Act (HR 2351, see below for more information about the benefits of HR 2351) that is in the House right now!
The White House (202) 456-1414
Bruce Babbitt (202) 208-7351
Your Senator (202) 224-3121 (swtichboard) and make sure they do not support Kempthorne’s anti-ESA bill (S 1180) and instead support HR 2351 in the Senate.
Your Representative (202) 244-3121 (switchboard) and get them to cospnsor HR 2351.
Information on Rep. Miller’s HR 2351 Bill:
Many of you may be aware that members of Congress have been heatedly debating the merits of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for several years. Supporters of the ESA, including conservation groups like the Sea Turtle Survival League, have argued that the Act needs to be strengthened to better protect species and their habitat. Those on the other side have argued, among other things, that the ESA is a waste of taxpayer money and that it interferes with private enterprise. During the last several years, a handful of bills have been introduced before Congress that would have severely weakened protection for endangered species in the United States. Thankfully, none of these bills has passed, but there are already new bills being proposed that would “gut” the ESA.
The real purpose of this Action Alert, however, is to let you know about a HR 2351, a GOOD bill that was introduced by Representative George Miller (D-CA) and to ask for your help in getting other representatives to sign on as co-sponsors. Bill HR 2351 is called the Endangered Species Recovery Act (ESRA), and it would actually strengthen endangered species protection in the US. In order for this bill to have any chance of passing, we need to get more members of Congress to support or cosponsor this bill.
One of the reasons the ESRA is so good is that it focuses on the recovery of endangered species and eliminates loopholes in Endangered Species Act that prevent species recovery. It is also an opportunity for the conservation community to actually support a bill rather than continually trying to fight bad bills. It is critical that this type of legislation receive maximum support.
The Endangered Species Recovery Act will recover listed species by:
Improving the ESA recovery plan development and implementation. Over half of all listed species have recovery plans, and many are not be scientifically credible. ESRA strengthens the existing ESA by requiring recovery plans to be based on the best scientific information available. ESRA implements recommendations from the National Academy of Science on improving the scientific basis of important endangered species decisions. For unprotected species that means providing protection before population numbers are too low to recover. For listed species that means using independent scientists to peer review large-scale, multi-species habitat conservation plans. It also means asking biologists, not politicians, to tell us what it will take to recover and eventually delist an imperiled species. In addition, ESRA improves the chances for recovery by identifying specific management actions and biological criteria in recovery plans, placing deadlines on final recovery plans, and encouraging federal agencies to take preventative measures before a species becomes endangered.
Ensuring federal actions do not jeopardize recovery plans. Under the existing law, pesticide application, river damming, forest clearcutting, and other habitat destruction are judged by their impact on the SURVIVAL of imperiled wildlife. The ESRA would require federal activities to be evaluated on the likelihood of adversely impacting the RECOVERY of a species.
Improving Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs). HCPs would have to be more consistent with the recovery of listed species and include objective goals, monitoring the effectiveness of the plan and adaptive management allowing for the adjustment of the plan based on reasonable changes in circumstances. ESRA would also establish a Habitat Conservation Plan Fund to cover the cost of additional implementation due to unforeseeable events outside of a landowner’s control. It also requires that land use planning be consistent with the overall recovery of resident wildlife. Not a hard standard to meet, yet one that is rarely reached under existing law.
Focuses recovery and protection at the ecosystem level. ESRA also improves the critical habitat process by requiring the identification of “survival habitat” at the time a species is listed, and requiring critical habitat to designated with a final recovery plan. This gives biologists, planners, and landowners more information on species’ location and needs.
Help landowners and communities protect listed species. By providing incentives and technical assistance to landowners and communities that voluntarily agree to take species conservation efforts. This includes estate and tax breaks for landowners who implement measures that benefit listed species on their land. ESRA would also provide planning assurances to those landowners and communities that develop HCPs consistent with the recovery of listed species.