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 Press Release: Walden, posted to KBC 10/02/05

House of Representatives Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen ESA

Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act, co-sponsored by Walden, advances to Senate; House recognizes need to update ineffective, 32-year-old law

Washington, D.C. - H.R. 3824, the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005 (TESRA), yesterday passed the House of Representatives with a strongly bipartisan vote of 229-293 and will now advance to the U.S. Senate for its consideration.  U.S. Congressman Greg Walden is an original co-sponsor of this comprehensive legislation, which calls for key changes to enhance the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to improve its overall implementation.

Walden issued the following statement on TESRA's passage:

"Passing this legislation is simply the right thing to do.  Though well-intentioned, the ESA has seen a recovery rate on listed species of less than one percent, and since its enactment into law by President Nixon back in 1973, the law has seen no significant changes or modernizations. 

"Not only should the health of species throughout the nation be demonstrably improved by the ESA, but the health of communities and local economies should be carefully addressed as well.  As a result, we have a responsibility to ensure that the law is effective and fair for all those it impacts.  

"One hundred years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt created the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in the Klamath Basin as a means to ensure healthy wildlife populations.  The Klamath Basin has now become home to the largest bald eagle wintering ground in the continental United States. 

"But nearly a century after this visionary laid out a plan to preserve and enhance wildlife, the government made a decision to shut off water to 1,200 farm families under the Endangered Species Act.  These decisions not only left these families desolate and destroyed a region's economy, they were found to be faulty during an independent peer review of the science and data. 

"Bad decisions led to even worse results, and when talking about the fate of a species or the fate of a community, we have a responsibility to get it right.  This modernization of the Endangered Species Act, for the first time ever, will put  into law clear criteria and guidelines for science, including requirements for empirical data and science that can stand the rigors of peer review.

"This legislation calls for greater accountability in the decision-making process by opening it up to the public, requiring disclosure of information on the internet for access by all Americans, and by giving governors and states an enhanced ability to participate in the process and collaborate with the federal government. 

"Secondly, this bill addresses a bedrock principle of the American democracy - private property rights.  When the government says they are going to put a highway though your property, our Constitution says the government has to pay you for it.  Standards under the ESA should be no different.  We do not open the door for speculation and egregious compensation claims, we simply require fairness by not forcing private property owners to shoulder the burden of public policy. 

"I believe in recovery.  I believe in conservation.  And I believe in public-private cooperation that will bring us together for the sake of improving the ESA so that it works for generations to come."

TESRA was introduced by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA), Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) and Walden at a press conference at the California State Capitol in Sacramento earlier this month to signify the bill's efforts to enhance state and local government participation in the development and management of recovery plans.  Walden then announced the bill's introduction at a rally in Klamath Falls, Oregon, which both he and Pombo refer to as "Ground Zero" in the need to update the ESA given the crisis that unfolded after faulty decision-making under the auspice of the Law led to the shut-off of water to farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin. 

More information on H.R. 3824 can be found at www.walden.house.gov by selecting "Strengthening the ESA."

Walden has represented the people of Oregon's 2nd District since 1999.  He chairs the Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.




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