From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Its Now Or Never For The Endangered Species Act

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400  Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087  Fax: 360-687-2973 
E-mail: alra@landrights.org or alra@governance.net 
Web Address: http://www.landrights.org 
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE  Washington, DC 20003

Its Now Or Never For The Endangered Species Act

Please join us at the Grassroots ESA Fly-In To Washington Sept 19-21

Come to Washington, DC if you can.

You will get to meet some great people and have a terrific time.

*****Please let us know quickly if you can come to Washington DC.  Drive in for Monday, Tuesday or both if you live within a few hundred miles.

*****Please respond to ccushman@landrights.org

See Schedule Update Below

Read this Op Ed from the Providence Journal

projo.com  The Providence Journal
Providence, Rhode Island

Robert Rheault: Endangered Species Act vs. oysters? 

01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 

I'M AN ARDENT environmentalist. I have been my whole life. More than most, my livelihood depends on preserving clean water. For the past 20 years, I have run a small oyster farm in Narragansett.

Until a few months ago, I would have been one of those constituents calling on Rhode Island's Sen. Lincoln Chafee, chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water, to resist any efforts to update the Endangered Species Act. But now I have seen firsthand how woefully inadequate the 32-year-old law is -- how badly it needs modernizing.

My epiphany began last January, when an environmental consultant in Maryland petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the American oyster as threatened or endangered, under the Endangered Species Act, because of alarming declines in the Chesapeake Bay. Despite the 100 billion or more oysters in U.S. waters, the Fisheries Service is taking the petition seriously. I have had to take several weeks out of my life to fight this misguided petition, testifying to Congress and presenting data to the Fisheries Service documenting the healthy status of the species.

Listing the oyster as endangered will run counter to scientific evidence and common sense. It will also destroy an entire industry -- killing thousands of jobs and creating economic hardship -- and do more damage than good to both the species and the environment.

The American oyster (Crassotrea virginica) has been in decline in the Mid-Atlantic region for over a century, primarily because of fisheries' mismanagement and various oyster diseases. However, the same species is thriving elsewhere up and down the East Coast, and along the Gulf Coast. In fact, U.S. shellfish farmers produce over a half-billion American oysters every year -- nearly twice the wild harvest. Unfortunately, the way the Endangered Species Act is written, any listing will have to encompass the species throughout its range, from Maine to Texas.

I would submit that any species being produced in such number is not threatened or endangered -- it's a crop.

Not only is the American oyster a crop; it is one with many environmental benefits. Oysters are filter feeders, which remove tons of nitrogen and phosphate from the coastal waters and enhance water clarity, allowing for improved light penetration -- which encourages the growth of eelgrass. Each cultured oyster also releases millions of larvae -- enhancing the wild-oyster population.

Listing the species as endangered or threatened will force severe restrictions on the wild harvest, and will probably eliminate commercial aquaculture of the American oyster. The market for oysters will be devastated, because consumers will be reluctant to eat an animal that they have been told is endangered.

The law mandates that states implement restrictions on all activities in essential oyster habitat, meaning that anchoring and fishing are likely to be prohibited in many areas. Thus, the Endangered Species Act will eliminate those who have invested to ensure a stable oyster supply: America's oyster farmers.

How is it that the Endangered Species Act could be so badly misused?

There are several answers. All start with the fact that -- unlike other environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, which are updated every few years -- the Endangered Species Act has not been significantly revised in three decades.

Today, no peer-reviewed scientific inquiry is required when a petition is submitted to list a species as threatened or endangered. Anyone can file such a petition, and as a result many decisions on listings are made by courts, rather than scientists.

Most shockingly, no recovery plan for a species is required when the species is listed. As a result, only 10 of the roughly 1,300 species that have been listed as threatened or endangered over the last 32 years have recovered enough to be taken off the list. Over the same period, 35 have become extinct.

Meanwhile, our government is wasting time and money studying a petition to list the thriving American oyster as endangered -- when it could be using those resources to address specific problems affecting the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.

All of this has convinced me that we can and must do a better job of protecting our species. Modernizing the Endangered Species Act is the place to begin.

Sadly, Congress will not act fast enough to save the oyster industry from this frivolous petition. Still, the Endangered Species Act should be revised before more damage is done.

Robert Rheault, president of Moonstone Oysters, in Narragansett, is also president of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association. He has a Ph.D. in biological oceanography.
Online at: http://www.projo.com/opinion/contributors/content/projo_20050914_14rheau.129272bf.html

Action Items:

-----A.  Whether or not you can come to Washington, DC, be sure to send in your Testimony.  You can print out a copy of a special Testimony Questionnaire by going to www.landrights.org    The Testimony Questionnaire is right on the Home Page.   Fax the document to (360) 687-2973.  Or, if you wish, fax it directly to the Resources Committee.  The number is on the document.

-----B.  Print out copies of the Testimony Questionnaire to give to others and get them to fax it in.  This is really important.  Do you have employees?   Ask them to fill it out.  But remember to give them the freedom to fill it out according to how they feel.

Next Weeks Schedule Update

ESA action in Congress next week.  You should be in Washington, DC from Monday, September 19th until at least Wednesday night, September 21st.  

Its likely activities will continue on September 22nd and 23rd.    All of this is subject to last minute changes.

Plan to fly or drive to Washington, DC no later than Sunday, September 18th and leave late on September 21st or later.  You would be better off putting your departure off until late Friday.

Here is an outline of what is planned for next week:

All week will be a grassroots fly-in to support Resources Committee Chairman Pombo as he begins his push to update the Endangered Species Act.

-----1.  On Wednesday, September 21st the Resources Committee will consider and likely mark-up the new ESA bill Chairman Pombo has been drafting.  It should be available for review sometime this week. 

-----2.  The Grassroots ESA Coalition will meet with representatives from other groups Monday afternoon, September 19th.  There will be no morning meeting.  Too many people were coming in Monday.  There will be a briefing about the new ESA bill and much discussion.  This is an invitation only meeting so please respond to ccushman@landrights.org as quickly as you can.  Those who respond to this e-mail will receive a schedule with the times and places.  Events will start at 2:00 pm.   A list will be kept at the door. 

-----3.  Representatives from various groups and organizations from around the country will fly-in to march the halls of Congress in support of fixing the ESA.   This will likely begin later on Monday, September 19th and carry forward through Tuesday, September 20th.   Please dont forget to send an e-mail confirmation if you are planning to attend the general ESA meeting to ccushman@landrights.org.    There will now only be one meeting.  Be sure to plan to come.  Your support is really needed.  

-----4.  Special briefings will be held with Administration officials and Congressional leaders on both days.  You wont want to miss out.

-----5.  There will be a press conference that you will want to participate in.

-----6.  Several special receptions and social gatherings will take place that will allow you to discuss the ESA and other issues with your friends and allies.  These are always very important.  Just one meeting with the right person can help you for years.  Relaxed food events with wine and talk.  Great fun.  You wont want to miss out.  These events will be by invitation only so be sure to get your confirmations in.

Weve set up a hotel with a special rate.  There will not be a meeting at the hotel.  All meetings will be held in meeting rooms on Capitol Hill.   These room rates are good even up to the last minute. 

HOTEL:    Best Western Pentagon, 2480 S. Glebe Rd, Arlington, Virginia.  (703) 979-4400.  Meeting room rate $99.  This is on Interstate 395 right at the Glebe Rd exit.  Use the words American Land Rights OR Grassroots ESA to get the better rate.  The hotel is setting up the special account.  If you have any problem, ask for Lorrie Donovan, extension 1406.

Please respond to ccushman@landrights.org

Thanks to all who are helping.

Please forward this message as widely as possible.

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