I guess I really don’t need an excuse to throw out a favorite passage of mine from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Heck, our Government plainly states a reason to conserve wildlife in peril and recognizes the varied and vital roles these species play in maintaining the health of our Nation’s ecosystems. But there was and is something conspicuously absent from that 1973 landmark document.
“The Congress finds and declares that various species of fish, wildlife, and plants in the United States have been rendered extinct as a consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation; other species of fish, wildlife, and plants have been so depleted in numbers that they are in danger of or threatened with extinction; these species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people…”
Prior to becoming an endangered or threatened species, many of those listed under the ESA had a degree of commonality about them. Perhaps they were species routinely observed or occurred in such vast numbers that who would have guessed such a “common species” could be disappearing from our National landscapes (i.e. Chinook salmon). So what is conspicuously absent from protection…those “common” species we take for granted, those species who currently have healthy populations, and those plants and animals just as vulnerable to overharvesting and habitat loss as the ones who currently populate the list of endangered and threatened species.
“Right now, there are few incentives for public land managers to focus on and maintain ecologically healthy wild animal populations … to keep the lifeblood of wild places flowing. As a result, we often learn that a population or an entire ecosystem is in trouble after the damage is done because we haven’t been monitoring and protecting wildlife.”
Amy Vedder, Executive VP of Conservation for The Wilderness Society
Recognizing that a need exists to ensure today’s common species continue to benefit from healthy populations, a new piece of legislation has been introduced to Congress. America’s Wildlife Heritage Act is nothing less than a Species Act designed to monitor species, “maintain sustainable populations of native species and desired non-native species, and reintroduce extirpated species when a species population is no longer present.”
According to the America’s Wildlife Heritage Act:
Fish and wildlife are fundamental parts of America’s history and character, and fish and wildlife conservation is a core value shared by all Americans. All future generations deserve the opportunity to benefit from and enjoy a diverse array of fish and wildlife species.
The American landscape is rapidly changing, particularly in the Western United States where the majority of the Federal public lands are found, increasing the importance of sustaining fish and wildlife and their habitats on our public lands.
Federal public lands are critical to the future of fish, plant, and wildlife species in America. Federal public lands help to protect endangered and threatened species from going extinct and help prevent species from becoming endangered in the first place. These lands complement the conservation of fish, plants, and wildlife on private lands by providing comparatively intact tracts of land that serve as refuges from human development and other pressures. Federal public lands also help keep common species common, including species valued for hunting and fishing.
Please contact your congressional representatives (http://house.gov) and encourage them to sign on as co-sponsors of this important bill.
For additional information visit The Wildereness Society: http://wilderness.org/content/wonder-it-all