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by Jim Beers
March 2, 2003


This is part seven of a series.

We need a Federal Invasive Species program to stop hydrilla and killer bees and fire ants and zebra mussels from ruining our environment and endangering people and businesses. Sounds reasonable. Ever ask yourself why the same reasoning doesn't apply to the effects of forced reintroductions by the Federal government of wolves and grizzly bears in the West? The answer lies in the real goals of the groups that generate and obtain passage of laws like the Endangered Species Act and the intended Invasive Species Act(s?).

Any new Act will articulate a Federal interest in "controlling" (i.e. managing) non-native species. It may propose a "Clean List" of allowed species or it may propose a "Dirty List" of targeted species. There will be money appropriated for Federal agencies to "gear up" (new offices, regulation writers, enforcers, etc.) to administer the program; money will be earmarked for Federal land managing agencies; money will be earmarked for "research" meaning Federal researchers, Universities, and contractors; and finally there will be money for certain private lands which will be skewed to folks like the Nature Conservancy and the remainder used as a carrot for unnamed other private lands that will discourage opponents by suggesting money they may get and also be a source of influence-buying for Federal administrators at key times with key groups.

So what will all this accomplish? Necessary chemicals will still be forbidden and does anyone think that will ever change unless opposed head-on? Control methods will remain the same while bureaucrats, academics, environmental groups and all the usual suspects will profit; but what difference will all that make? Ask yourself what species have been saved from extinction by the Endangered Species Act? For all the fuss over that simple goal you must ask yourself what will result from an amorphous goal of purifying the environment by selective vilification of certain plants, animals, and their "ecological impacts?"

Here are some "real goals."

-Federal politicians hope to gain votes and other support from environmentalists and others who look to benefit from passing Invasive Species legislation.

-Federal bureaucrats will receive more employees, larger budgets and therefore more opportunities for bonuses, promotions, and expanded powers over private property to do more of the "important" things they do that they believe are so vital.

-State bureaucrats see the opportunity for more money to replace the cuts forced on them by a slow economy. Additionally, they look forward to having some money to work with mainly urban environmentalists whose agendas often conflict with the rural supporters of their Agriculture and Fish & Wildlife agencies.

-State politicians want any extra money that allows them to soften belt-tightening throughout other state programs.

-Chemical companies smell a bonanza in marketing current products on the Federal tab.

-Seed companies likewise smell a bonanza marketing "native seeds" at $3-400 per lb. To replace the better (erosion control, less maintenance, less snow holding, etc.) roadside plants used today that sell for a comparative pittance.

-Academics know that millions will be made available annually to "develop" "biological" controls and "investigate" ecological minutiae regarding non-natives and native replacements. This will assure the need for paid testimonies, speeches, more graduate students, and status that assures tenure and increased pay and emoluments.

-The Nature Conservancy knows it's friends in US Fish & Wildlife Service and it's members on The Hill (i.e. The US House and Senate) will assure that Nature Conservancy lands are "improved" "the firstist with the mostist" as the old saying goes.

-Cattlemen anticipate Federal grazing lands and private pastures will benefit from increased damage control. However, they are sure to be disappointed because of the next goal.

-Environmentalist and animal rights radicals are quietly watching like a pack of wolves from the edge of the forest. Just as with the Endangered Species Act, after passage they will descend on the agencies and the courts. Their former employees and other sympathizers in the Federal agencies will immediately begin to work with them "telephonically" to write regulations that lay the groundwork for expansion. Whether it is clean lists or dirty lists, the Federal jurisdiction will be worded to allow the "right" judge to declare Federal authority over non-natives either collectively or as the Federal government names them (like Endangered Species.) Then the fun begins as they sue to add this species necessary for waterfowl management, or to stop this water control project because it spreads species XXX. The suits will be aimed at further restricting access or uses on public lands. They will aim to stop, disrupt, or make things too difficult to continue hunting, fishing, trapping, pet ownership, dog or horse use, circus movements, hiking, bike riding, rural living, logging, ranching, farming, etc. (this last because new uses of Federal jurisdiction is a continuously evolving matter.)

-Because of the foregoing point, "environmental lawyers" may also look forward to salary and career enhancements of significant magnitude.

There are some others like the Advisory Committees that will provide employment for retired politicians and their friends and relatives but space is limited.

All for what? To allow states to sell their Constitutional responsibilities for some Federal dollars? For favored "landowners" to get Federal money to make their property more valuable when they sell it? For bureaucrats and academics to obtain more security and pay? For Federal land managers to continue the fiction that state exist around Federal properties rather than that Federal properties exist within states? For environmentalists and animal rights radicals to further their agendas? Today, states should continue to meet their Constitutional responsibilities to manage damage from plants and animals in their states. Private landowners should be encouraged by state authorities to do what they can to minimize damages or to cooperate with state programs designed to do so. Research at state Universities can be developed and shared in concert with other states with similar issues. Control agents from introduced flies for purple loosestrife to effective chemicals to suppress fire ants near residences should be made available under more responsible Federal regulations that serve only as impediments today. Federalizing all of this won't change the basics. Throwing Federal money at it won't make things better (remember the Endangered Species Act). Federal responsibilities involve import, export, and interstate commerce - not vilification and management of whatever species serves someone's nefarious purpose.

The worst results of these Federalizing proposals will be covered in the next part, The Unintended Consequences. The subsequent article, What Must Be Done will conclude this series. The effects of these proposals, added to previous jurisdiction assumptions by the Federal government from the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act to the Animal Welfare Act, are a steady diminishment of the system of government that made this country the greatest in the world. Part 8 will discuss this issue.

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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