Experience and Expertise
Endangered Species Act
Extinction is forever and saving species from that risk is taking quite a bit of time as well.
We have a backstop against extinction in place – the Endangered Species Act – which is focused on regulating and penalizing any activity that may harm a Threatened or Endangered species. The law has less power for creating solutions. It is noble, essential, and badly in need of an update. Modern wildlife conservation is a great opportunity for restoring species and safeguarding property rights; and for raising the hope of success over the fear of failure.
Since enacted in 1973, the Endangered Species Act is credited for the restoration of the bald eagle, the American alligator, and several other species. But there are good questions whether these were simply the easiest of the problems to fix and may have been fixable without the protective approach of ESA.
ESA is strong, but not for giving explicit instructions on restoring depleted species. It is not all-powerful: it forgives some marginal harms to species while strictly prohibiting others. It is not perfect: it infringes on property rights while offering few incentives to encourage landowners to help. As a result, frustrations are high both from those feeling unduly regulated and those feeling that progress is too slow. The Federal budget clouds the picture: most of the money for species recovery goes to a few popular species. Also, innovations can be discouraged by the protective rules of ESA itself, and there has not been an improvement to the law since the last amendment in 1988 (of course, that means it has not been weakened either).
Watershed Results has been involved the ESA cases of grizzly bears, gray wolves, salmon and trout, butterflies, the lesser prairie chicken, and bats. Our approach is based on the successful restoration of game species, which was accomplished with a financial commitment to field work guided by science.