From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Don’t Miss This ESA Letter To Pombo and Congress

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 2000

Don’t Miss This ESA Letter To Pombo and Congress

A group of 53 organizations and signatories sent this outstanding letter to House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Congress regarding the coming effort this summer to fix the Endangered Species Act.  The letter is printed below in full and includes all the signatories.

This is a great example of the kind of letter all of us need to send our Representatives and Senators.  In fact, you can send a copy of this one with your comments added if you want.  Or you can write your own.   Send an e-mail to your elected representatives.  If you don’t know their e-mail, call any Congressman or Senator at (202) 225-3121.

This letter is so good, more organizations need to sign on.  American Land Rights endorses the letter and so should you.  Here’s how you can make a difference.

Action Items:

-----1.  Take the letter, add a few comments of your own at the top to introduce it, and send it to your Representative and both Senators.  Please don’t edit the letter but you are free to add even more of your own personal comments if you wish.

-----2.  If you represent an organization and are authorized to sign, please send a note with your organization name, address, phone, fax and e-mail to ccushman@landrights.org.  Make it clear that you want to sign on to the ESA letter.

-----3.  If you are an individual, but want to sign on to the letter, send a note with your name, address, phone, fax and e-mail to ccushman@landrights.org.  Please make it clear you are signing on to support the ESA letter as an individual.

-----4.  Send a copy of the letter to at least five friends and business associates.  

-----5.  Don’t forget that you and or your organization can still be listed as a co-sponsor of the Grassroots ESA Coalition.   There is no charge.   The Endangered Species Act will be coming to a head in Congress this summer.   You want to be in the game.  When you send back your note that you want to sign on the letter, make sure you let us know if you would like to also co-sponsor the Grassroots ESA Coalition.   Let us know if you wish to sign on for your organization or as an individual. 

Press Release attached to the letter: 
      Endangered Species Act Can't Work Without Property Rights Protections
      53 Groups Outline Reform Principles in Letter to Resources Chairman Pombo 

      The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has failed and will continue to fail so long as private property owners are penalized for good environmental stewardship, The National Center for Public Policy Research and 52 other leading national and grassroots organizations say in a letter sent to House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo.

      The ESA, which is on the fast track for reform and reauthorization this year, has by most accounts been a stunning failure.

      Since it became law over 30 years ago, only nine of the close to 1,300 species given special protection under the ESA - or 0.6 percent of the total - have recovered.

      Despite its poor performance, some on Capitol Hill are calling for more of the same.

      Signatories to the letter to Chairman Pombo, however, strongly disagree.

      "You can not fix an already poisonous law by increasing its dosage," said David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research and one of the coalition letter's organizers. "The ESA hasn't failed because it isn't strong enough. It has failed because it has the incentives all wrong."

      Today, private landowners live in fear of the ESA. Those who harbor endangered species on their property or merely own land suitable for them often find themselves subject to severe land use restrictions. To avoid such restrictions and the losses in property values that accompany them, many have been forced to preemptively sterilize their land to keep rare species away.

      "Such pre-emptive sterilization benefits no one - least of all the species the ESA was meant to protect. The good news is that this practice can be stopped by compensating landowners for their losses," said Ridenour. "But make no mistake: If Americans continue to be penalized for good stewardship practices, they will cease such practices and even more rare species will be condemned to extinction.


June 16, 2005

The Hon. Richard W. Pombo
Committee on Resources
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Pombo:

On February 10, you called for a new approach to species conservation.

Pointing out that only one percent of the plants and animals put on the endangered species list over the past thirty years has actually recovered, you said the ESA has failed to live up to "our intrinsic values as Americans."

We agree.

Since its enactment in 1973, the ESA has penalized landowners for their stewardship of their property. Farmers, ranchers, tree farmers, homeowners and other landowners who harbor endangered species on their property or merely have wildlife habitat are subjected to severe land-use restrictions that often lead to economic ruin. In much of rural America the ESA has turned landowners and endangered species into mortal enemies. To keep their property from falling under the ESA's land use controls, landowners have to preemptively sterilize their land, making it inhospitable to the species the ESA is supposed to protect. Such are the perverse incentives of this dysfunctional law.

Indeed, rare plants and animals are at greater risk today than they were before the ESA became law.

In states as diverse as North Carolina, Texas, Colorado and California, the ESA has brought much-needed public works projects to a standstill. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been diverted to cover the cost of the ESA -- often on the basis of the most dubious of scientific data. Once a species has been added to the endangered species list, it can stay there for decades because there is little incentive to recover species or remove them from the endangered list. As long as species remain on the list, greens and bureaucrats can maintain cost free land use control. Listing has become an end in itself.

There are some who say the ESA needs to be "strengthened."

In truth, the ESA is arguably the most powerful statute on the books. It has opened the floodgates to regulatory takings of private property for which landowners receive no compensation.  As such, the ESA is a direct affront to the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, which clearly states: "Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."

Those who don't understand what's wrong with the ESA -- its almost unchecked power to coerce law-abiding citizens, regardless of the consequences -- will never know how to fix the law.

Fixing the ESA is absolutely critical – not just for species, property owners and our nation’s economy – but for our nation’s security.

The ESA and other command-and-control approaches have undermined the nation's security – in an era when we can least afford it. In recent years, "critical habitat" designations have been extended to military installations around the country where they come into direct conflict with the armed forces' ability to train soldiers for combat. Fully 72 percent of the Army's base at Fort Lewis, Washington is critical habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl, even though not a single one of these birds currently resides on the installation.

Camp Pendleton Marine base in California has endangered species on its beaches, in riparian areas, and even on brushy dry land – leaving little land available for maneuvers.

What’s more, our efforts to secure our borders from illegal entry – including entry by members of Al Qaeda – have been seriously compromised in the name of species protection.

We remind you that in 1996 Congress appropriated money for Operation Gatekeeper, a Border Patrol initiative to equip fences with state-of-the-art lights, sensors and surveillance equipment along a 14-mile stretch of the U.S./Mexico Border. After nearly nine years, the project still hasn’t been completed because government wildlife officials claim that the final four miles of the fences would disturb seven individual birds -- two vireos, two flycatchers and three gnatcatchers.

The ESA and other regulatory schemes are failing the public they are supposed to serve, and failed the wildlife they are supposed to protect.

We can do better, and we can begin by supporting real reform of the ESA.

A new ESA should be rooted in the principles on which this country was founded, and should be commensurate with the creative, innovative talents of our people. At a minimum, an ESA for the 21st century should include:

-----Compensating landowners for any taking of their property or loss of use of their property resulting from the ESA.

-----Ending the perverse incentives of the current ESA that turn people against wildlife and replacing them with incentive-based approaches.

-----Requiring the government to develop a recovery plan, subject to public comment, before a species is added to the endangered species list, and when the recovery goals are met, mandating the removal of the species from the list.

-----Ensuring that decisions regarding listing and recovery of endangered and threatened species be based on sound, transparent science that is subject to public comment and is subject to double-blind peer review.

As noted earlier, efforts to fix the ESA will fail miserably without a clear understanding of the reasons why it doesn’t work.

As you begin your important work, we urge you to keep in mind that you cannot fix an already poisonous law by increasing its dosage.


David A. Ridenour, Vice President, Natl Center for Public Policy Research 
Tom DeWeese, President, American Policy Center
Fred Smith, President; Myron Ebell, Director for Intl Policy, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Phyllis Schlafly,  President, Eagle Forum 

Sen. Malcolm Wallop, Chairman; George Landrith, President, Frontiers of Freedom 
David Keene, President, American Conservative Union
John Berthoud,  President, National Taxpayers Union
Jim Martin, President, 60 Plus Association 
John Dendahl, President, Rio Grande Foundation (New Mexico)

Dan Byfield, President, Liberty Matters
Sharon Votaw, Chair, Homestead Land & Water Alliance
Stephen M. Lilienthal, Free Congress Foundation
Larry Pratt, Executive Director, Gun Owners of America
Lew Uhler, President, National Tax Limitation Comte

Ted Nugent, Performer, radio host & Board member of the NRA
Bill Moshofsky, Vice President, Government Affairs, Oregonians in Action 
Tom Schatz, President, Citizens Council of CAGW 
Don L. (Bebo) Lee, President, New Mexico Cattlegrower’s Assn
Margaret Byfield, President, Stewards of the Range 

Becky Norton Dunlop, Former Sec. of Natural Resources, Commonwealth of Virginia 
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
H. Sterling Burnett, Senior Fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis 
Richard J. McNamara, Member, CA State Grange Environmental Affairs Comte 
Sharon Livingston, Sec/Treasurer, Grant County (OR) Stockgrowers

Mike G. Casabonne, President, New Mexico Federal Lands Council 
Terry Scanlon, President, Capitol Research Center 
Mike Dail, Chairman, American Land Foundation
Sheila Powers, President, Albany County (NY) Farm Bureau
Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO, Small Business &  Entrepreneurship Council

Matt Bennett, Executive Director, Treekeepers.org
David Bossie, President, Citizens United 
Katherine Lehman, President, People for the USA Grange  
Brian Bishop, Director, RI Wise Use
Sylvia Milligan, Chairperson, Recreation Outdoors Coalition 

Peter Flaherty, President, Natl Legal & Policy Center 
Sylvia Allen, President, Freedom for America League (AZ)
J. Robert McClure, President & CEO, James Madison Institute 
Craig Rucker, Executive Director,  Comte for a Constructive Tomorrow
Ron Arnold, Executive Vice President, Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise

Niger Innis, National Spokesman, Congress of Racial Equality 
Jesse Lee Peterson, President, Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny 
John Michael Snyder, Public Affairs Director, Citizens Comte for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Bruce Chapman, President, Discovery Institute

Greg Blankenship, Executive Director, Illinois Policy Institute 
Jim Beers, Retired Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Fred Grau, Take Pennsylvania Back 
Marty McElhaney, The McElhaney Report 
Rachel Thomas, AZ Property Rights Activist

Samuel “Coy” Cowart, President, Oregon Cattlemen’s Assn 
John Ligon, Vice President, Federation of Citizens of the US 
Matthew Kibbe, President and CEO, Freedom Works
Gerald Hobbs, President, Public Lands for the People, Inc.  
Harry A. Harms, Vice President, Rural Resource Alliance (OR)

Congress will consider changes to the Endangered Species Act this summer.  Please make sure you forward this e-mail message as widely as possible. 

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