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2018 National Conference of Private Forest Landowners

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2019 National Conference of Private Forest Landowners

Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Holds Hearing on Endangered Species Act Modernization
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On Wednesday, February 15 2015 the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, chaired by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (WY) held a hearing entitled “Oversight: Modernization of the Endangered Species Act. Offering both written and verbal testimony at the hearing were:

  • David Freudenthal, former Governor of Wyomin
  • Gordon Myers, Executive Director, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commissio
  • James Holte, President, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation
  • Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO, Defenders of Wildlife
  • Daniel Ashe, President and CEO, Association of Zoos and Aquariums

The hearing was held to gather testimony from key stakeholders for a policy that, as Sen. Barrasso noted in his introductory comments, “has not been updated in any meaningful way in over thirty years.”

The first to offer testimony was Freudenthal who pointed to a divergence in the policy’s initial intent and the manner in which it being used now. “The Endangered Species Act has been used and abused over the course of several administrations,” he noted. Freudenthal went on to articulate many of the same points he offered in his written testimony and established that the policy, though well-intentioned has evolved into a “nearly unworkable system.” Freudenthal highlighted the petitioning process and said, “The gate for getting a petition in is too low. We don’t require enough information in the listing process.” Freudenthal went on to stress petitioners were looking for federal action and that the burden of proof should reside with them. In his written testimony Freudenthal asserted that a higher threshold of reliable data and species specific knowledge needed to be gathered as a listing “impacts the personal and property rights of so many other people.”

Next to testify was Gordon Myers who in his opening remarks said that “after nearly have a century of implementation we have learned much about the conservation of listed species, their recovery needs and how to facilitate and not proscribe private landowner involvement.” Myers went on to stress that the relationship between the federal government and the states that was articulated in the policy have not yet “been fully realized.” Myers went on to offer six improvements that included a clearer distinction between threatened and endangered, a commitment to use state level data in determinations and a more streamlined delisting process. In his written testimony Myers noted that, “delisting can take decades and require overcoming many obstacles even after species’ recovery goals are met.”

The Forest Landowners Association (FLA) continues to closely monitor and advocate for modernizing the Endangered Species Act because it directly impacts the property rights of its members. “This continues to be a priority issue for us because protecting the rights of private forest landowners is at the core of our mission,” said Scott Jones, CEO of the FLA. “No one would argue against the intent of the policy, but the reality is the policy too often becomes an instrument that is used to curtail property rights and for that reason, it needs to be modernized.”

The entire hearing and access to the written testimonies of the presenters can be accessed here.




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