PART 11 - A MEANS TO AN END
by Jim Beers
March 29, 2003
This is part eleven of a series.
It was during the early 1900's that Federal and state governments began to hire employees and organize concerted programs to actively manage fish, wildlife, and plants. Birds and fish were managed to provide sustainable, annual harvests for recreational and commercial purposes. Large mammals were managed to provide citizens with sport and meat year after year. Small mammals were managed to provide fur or winter meals to rural families and urban residents who enjoyed hunting or trapping. Trees were managed to provide sustainable timber products, wildlife, erosion control, grazing, and a pleasant landscape. Streams were managed to provide fish, recreation, power, drinking water, irrigation, and commercial transportation while minimizing the damage caused by floods or droughts. Songbirds, amphibians, and plants were studied and categorized by Universities and groups of citizens like the Audubon Society influenced other citizens to provide for these lesser-known species as citizens went about their daily activities.
It was during the middle part of the century that the Federal government hired more employees and began to purchase, proclaim, and "protect" land units on a regular basis. Wetlands were bought and made "National Wildlife Refuges." Battlefields and places of beauty or wonder were bought and proclaimed "National Parks." Woodlands were bought or reserved from the Federal landholdings in the West and proclaimed "National Forests." Western grasslands and what were fairly termed wastelands were not turned over to the states as was done in other states and eventually were proclaimed BLM (for Bureau of Land Management) grazing lands. These last were leased routinely for grazing, mining, and other uses while the others on a scale from the Forests to the Parks allowed many (multiple) to limited uses.
Up to the 1970's, Federal employees, Federal statutes (laws), Federal regulations, and Federal and state programs all recognized that they existed to manage the natural resources on these landholding for the wise and sustainable uses of citizens. The employees were trained by Universities to do this job and governments hired and promoted based on proven performance to manage natural resources. The plants and animals are termed renewable natural resources and oil, gas, coal, and minerals are called non-renewable natural resources. All were managed and harvested or extracted using the best management practices known at the time.
When the public accepted the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act in the early 1970's things changed dramatically. The future for US Department of the Interior employees (where the Refuges, Parks, and Grazing Lands were managed) moved away from managing resources for people to managing plants and animals to protect them from any and all uses. The Endangered Species Act (administered by the US Department of the Interior) corrupted the sensible management of natural resources by the employees of that period by being the growth part of employment and the basis for most bonuses and promotions. New employees whispered resentments at the way old programs managed for sustainable uses and assured that new programs did not allow uses. Steadily the old programs changed. An example is the way the 20-year old, always unsuccessful attempt to get millions of dollars by taxing binoculars, camping gear, etc. to buy "non-game" lands was always intended to be lands without any sustainable uses of resources. During the last Administration persistent attempts were made to modify policies and even regulations that would eliminate management or use of all resources on the Refuges, Parks, and Grazing Lands. Some limited progress was made by the illicit use of Executive Orders around election time and Presidential Proclamations prohibiting certain uses on certain areas like the coal under Southern Utah Grazing Lands or offshore oil development to gain votes in states like California and Florida.
A parallel development took place in the US Department of Agriculture that manages the National Forests and administers the Animal Welfare Act. The future for employees left management and use programs and became focused on eliminating uses and cooperating with the socialist-oriented, no-use power-brokers like the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, the US Humane Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Animal Protection Institute. As happened at the Department of the Interior, promotions and bonuses were given for eliminating management and uses and new employees hired from the power-brokers assured that new and old programs reflected this change. Again, Executive Orders and Proclamations imposed Roadless Areas, de facto Wilderness', and prohibitions on natural gas extraction in the midst of power shortages and mideast terror.
The recent growth of the Federal government, the astronomical increases in the Federal budget for these Departments, and the modifications of national rights and jurisdictions from private property to states rights due to these two laws and these two Departments is a matter of record known to all. The Federal and state bureaucrats who have witnessed the effect on their employment, careers, and power know that this expansion can go on for a long time but like the changes I mentioned during the last century there is the "Mother of all Government Programs" on their horizon. They plan to enlist all the "usual suspects" from the last thirty years to help get them there. The University professors, the power-brokers, and the reelection-obsessed politicians will all help willingly to get their piece of the action.
This next and apparently unlimited guarantee of budget increases, employment increases, promotions, bonuses, and most-importantly power increase is something called the RESTORATION OF PRE-COLUMBIAN ECOSYSTEMS. Its' greatest features are that it is both impossible and immeasurable. Never mind that it is also foolish and nonsensical. However, if the "general public" et al, can be made to believe in or accept the fallacies of the Endangered Species Act (like the "need" or desirability of wolves or the wisdom of eliminating logging and entire rural communities for imaginary effects on owls or lynx) they will believe anything. Goebbels fed the Germans ever-greater lies, just like getting a dog to eat more and more over time, and it apparently worked. The bureaucratic "success" of the past thirty years has illuminated a darker future for us all.
The American public accepts the lie that the plants and animals that were "here" in 1492 AD were somehow designated (certainly not by God, but then by who?) as the best or highest or only such plant or animal to be at any given location today. Never mind that millions of us living incredibly different lives make that impossible. Never mind that the pre-European US environment of 1492 AD is as different from today's' environment in the US as the Mississippi is from the Amazon. Never mind that thousands of plants and animals have arrived in hundreds of different ways and their seeds, their crossbreeding, their uses, their effects, and their superior abilities to compete (when they survive) mean they are here to stay every bit as much as the oldest living species in the middle of Nebraska. Never mind that the bureaucrats whine about eradicating a grass you have never encountered but will eventually be eradicating plants in your landscaping or garden. Always remember the Endangered Species Act was touted as "saving" bald eagles (another lie) but never mentioned putting loggers out of business for an owl or causing Southern California homes to burn up because of a rodent.
No, and you can take this to the bank per an old wildlife biologist, there is nothing sacred, good, or desirable about Pre-Columbian Ecosystems or treating any plants or animals differently based on their time here. Sure, keep out new ones as best you can based on what we know. Sure eradicate or redistribute some plants or animals based on their effects or on the needs of people. Sure let the Federal government do their job regulating import, export, and interstate commerce while states administer all the plants and animals within their state as they see fit. But don't, whatever they tell you, accept the notion that the Federal government has any mandate for the silly, immeasurable, never-ending, unimaginably expensive, and impossible task of restoring Pre-Columbian Ecosystems.
That said, there is a big push to do just this today. All of the proposed bills before Congress that have a Title or Section that mentions INVASIVE SPECIES does just that. If the Federal government proclaims a mandate to attack INVASIVE SPECIES it automatically tells the Courts and every bureaucrat that ONLY NATIVE (Pre-1492 AD) SPECIES are to remain everywhere in the USA. Think of the money, the people, the land, the grants, the programs, the bonuses, the permits, the land needed, the POWER "necessary" to begin and continue this bureaucratic attack on everything from brown trout to all the clovers. It can never be accomplished, it can never be measured, there will never be a lack of new "problems" needing "more", and the power needed (like the species identified) can only increase. It literally boggles the mind. No bureaucrat since the mandarins in ancient China ever conceived of a greater self-serving program for unlimited expansion over an unlimited number of decades or even centuries. All this and what was once the best educated public in the history of man ready to swallow it like a bass eyeing a hula popper overhead.
If you can, tell your Senator, tell your Congressman, and tell your state representatives that you do not want the Federal government responsible for anything except the import, export, or interstate commerce involving new species that may harm the current natural or commercial environment of the United States. Tell them that you want the Constitutionally mandated responsibility for all plants and animals (wild and domestic) to remain with the state governments.
This is already longer than I planned, but I will be writing more about the current rush of activities here in Washington concerning INVASIVE SPECIES over the next few months. I will try to make this all more understandable as I try to sift the wheat from the chaff. Share this with a friend and thanks for taking the time to read it.
Jim Beers is a 33 year veteran of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and a great advocate of private property rights.
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