Forum Outlines Roadmap for Species Recovery

Western Caucus Members and species experts highlight ways to improve Endangered Species Act, bolster effective recovery

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) hosted a Congressional Western Caucus Species Week forum titled, “A Roadmap for Recovery.” The forum featured Western Caucus Members and experts from across the United States who highlighted the importance of modernizing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in order to support effective species recovery.
“What Western Caucus Members understand and what we’re urging our colleagues in Congress and in the Administration to recognize is that states and local conservationists – those who are closest to the habitats and ecosystems – are best suited to protect endangered and threatened species,” said Chairman Newhouse. “We are working to promote solutions that will achieve our recovery goals and ensure that rural communities thrive. These solutions are based on three pillars: transparency, flexibility, and scientific credibility, and these pillars are our roadmap to species recovery.”
Vice Chair Lauren Boebert (CO-03) and Reps. David Valadao (CA-21), Gary Palmer (AL-06), Tom Tiffany (WI-07), and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02) participated in the forum alongside a panel of species experts to discuss recovery-based species solutions and how to incentivize state, local, and private restoration efforts.
  • Jonathan Wood, Property and Environment Research Center (PERC)
  • Commissioner Jim French, Humboldt County, NV
  • Gary Wiens, Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association & NRECA
  • Daren Bakst, Heritage Foundation
  • Alan Meadows, American Soybean Association
“As the Endangered Species Act ends its first half-century and enters its second, this is an opportune time to reflect on what the law has done well and where it has proven lacking,” said Jonathan Wood, Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). “In brief, the law has been effective at avoiding extinction but not at spurring the proactive habitat restoration and other conservation efforts needed to recovery species… To achieve the ESA’s ultimate goal of recovering species, reforms are needed to reduce conflict, to encourage collaboration, to reward proactive recovery efforts, and to make imperiled species an asset rather than a liability to the private landowners who provide most habitat.”
“Federal agencies will gain from a more coordinated effort with county governments,” said Commissioner Jim French, Humboldt County, NV. “Allowing for greater local input, engaging in efforts to understand the customs and culture of the local community, and undertaking an honest assessment of socioeconomic impacts of the ESA is not a threat to species viability. The best conservation decisions are made by local people working collaboratively with state and federal agency personnel at the ground level.”
“The ESA should not be applied in a one-size-fits-all manner because such a broad federal implementation standard just doesn’t work,” said Gary Wiens, National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association & Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association. “To be effective, ESA must engage private stakeholders and state and local governments; focus on species recovery; be based on impartial scientific standards and best available information; and balance species interests with essential economic activity.”
“In terms of species recovery, the Endangered Species Act has been a failure with less than three percent of listed species being delisted due to recovery,” said Daren Bakst, Heritage Foundation. “This is unacceptable, and it needs to change… There are some who will criticize anyone who dares to touch the ESA. Such criticism for seeking to modernize and improve the statute is doing a disservice to recovery efforts. The goal, after all, is species recovery – not preservation of every word and comma of the ESA.”
“Congress designed the ESA to determine whether a project, a bridge, or a building would impact species local to that project,” said Alan Meadows, American Soybean Association. “It was not designed to examine if a pesticide registered for dozens of crops used across hundreds of millions of acres might impact nearly all 1800 endangered or threatened species overlapping with its use. …To be clear, farmers want to be good environmental stewards, and we want to protect species. But we need protections to be flexible and workable for agriculture and stem from good science and data. Our food security and environmental conservation depend on it.”
Throughout the second annual Congressional Western Caucus Species Week, Members are highlighting solutions to promote commonsense Endangered Species Act (ESA) reforms needed to effectively recover species and allow rural communities to thrive. These solutions are based on three pillars of recovery: Transparency, Flexibility, and Scientific Credibility. Click here to learn more about Species Week.

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