Our Klamath Basin
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
News from South Dakota
Secretary on the ESA, posted 7/18/05
Does the king have clothes?
About all one need say is, "the
Endangered Species Act" (ESA) and the arguments
begin about this "king" of natural resource
management. Congress is doing that right now.
Just like ordinary people, most Congressmen already
have their minds made up. The difference is many are
afraid to say so. I admit my bias up front. ESA
makes no sense to me.
First, I know of nothing in the Constitution that
says the federal government should regulate
state-owned property. All the wildlife here is owned
by the State of South Dakota. Giving control to
Congress makes no sense to me.
Second, managing a chunk of the environment for the
exclusive benefit on one particular critter is
exactly what preservationists have been arguing
against for a hundred years. The difference is the
"one particular critter" is now a rodent instead of
a cow. They can't have it both ways.
Third, ESA does not work and everyone knows it. The
"isolated wilderness" and "save a single species"
ideas were tested for fifty years. They don't work.
That is why the conservation movement invented
"ecosystem management" twenty years ago and why the
United State Forest Service officially adopted it
into law ten years ago. We now manage natural
resources for the big picture, not for the
preservation of just one little thing.
Even members of the "green movement" acknowledged
the old system's failure, but they argued for
keeping ESA until the new system was in place. Time
Fourth, extinction is a perfectly normal cycle of
selection that operated long before man decided he
knew better how to run things.
Fifth, the assumption that each one of the millions
of critters potentially protected by ESA has some
mystical and extraordinary value may create a noble
feeling, but it is not rational.
Sixth, Congress says a protected species or
subspecies is "unique". The people who collect the
money are the people who decide it is unique. For
example, the Northern Swift Fox was a protected
"unique" subspecies until another group of
researchers decided it does not exist.
Last but not least, Congress is generally the worst
imaginable manager of natural resources.
If you want millions of acres of scorched black
earth, let Congress manage your forests. If you want
barren grasslands, give them to Congress.
If you want just about anything (including your
money) lost or destroyed without meaningful
accountability, normally Congress can help you out.
If you are a real conservationist like me, you may
agree that local governments and local owners are
better managers of natural resources than Congress
ever will be.