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Demos Don't Care About Dialogue

by Pat Larson
Readers' Views, Capital Press - July 12, 2002

The Cowboy Caucus described by Larry Swisher in the June 28 and July 5 Capital Press, stated pro-environment Democrats weren't attending ESA reform committee meetings in Washington, D.C. due to a "dearth of debate" and lack of "bipartisan cooperation" by the Republican leadership.

Swisher failed to mention that Democrats might be absent because they favor politically correct one-liners rather than science facts that don't play well in the media. He also failed to mention that the Cowboy Caucus is pro-environment as well as determined. Science is being inserted to ensure ESA species protection where protection is needed, so we can move beyond the emotional outcries of environmental groups more interested in fund-raising events than protecting species.

In 1995, a petition was filed to list Spalding's catchfly, a plant in northeastern Oregon. The petition stated the catchfly was threatened by competition with non-native and woody vegetation, improper livestock grazing, improper herbicide application and fire suppression. Oregon cattlemen pointed out that the petition was based on observations made during casual visits to a few sites and lacked scientific evidence to support the claims. In an arbitrary decision USFWS listed the plant anyway.

The record is filled with pseudoscientific "biological opinions" that satisfy self-serving agendas, but do little for species protection. Oregon's natural resource industries have become shackled by ESA abuses, and to date no species has been delisted because a government plan succeeded in restoring habitats. All we've done is lock out timber management, livestock grazing and people who use the land.

Rep. George Miller, D.-Calif., blasted the ESA reform bill for treating tribes and fishermen as "second-class citizens" because affected landowners will be allowed to participate in certain proceedings. It's hoped such ranting fell of deaf ears.

It's an insightful addition to include local landowners, who have the most knowledge about local conditions and experience at finding workable solutions.

Anyone complaining about additional help hasn't noticed that we keep missing the mark in recovery efforts. In 35 years the only delistings that have taken place were due to errors in the original listing, not because the ESA saved them.

Pat Larson, La Grande, Oregon
Demos Don't Care About Dialogue
Capital Press - July 12, 2002

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