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Old Apr 5, 2004, 01:45 PM   #1
Frohickey
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Shoot, shovel & shut up

Shoot, Shovel & Shut Up

My first reaction if I spotted a red-cockaded woodpecker in our yard would probably be to fill the bird feeder and toss around some bread. If I saw him twice, I'd most likely buy another birdhouse, with a hole fitted to woodpeckers. The last thing I'd do is run for my gun, or cut down the tree. But that's exactly what people are doing, thanks to the pro-bird bureaucrats in the federal government.

In their study of red-cockaded woodpeckers in North Carolina, "Pre-emptive Habitat Destruction Under the Endangered Species Act," economists Dean Lueck, at Montana State University, and Jeffrey A. Michael, at North Carolina University, show that landowners have "pre-emptively destroyed" the habitats of endangered species in order to avoid potential land-use regulations prescribed under the Endangered Species Act.

"Under the ESA it is not only illegal to kill an endangered species, but it is also illegal to damage their habitat," explain Lueck and Michael. "By preventing the establishment of an old-growth pine stand, landowners can ensure that red-cockaded woodpeckers do not inhabit their land and avoid ESA regulations that limit or prohibit timber harvest activity."

Checking data on timber harvesting for 16 years in more than 1,000 individual forests, the professors found that "increases in the proximity of a plot to red-cockaded woodpeckers increases the probability that the plot will be harvested and decreases the age at which the forest is harvested."

It's best to cut down the trees, in short, if a woodpecker is spotted anywhere nearby. It's sort of like neighbors not wanting a new pool hall to open in a nearby storefront, lest it attract the wrong characters. In this case, it's old-growth trees that might attract the wrong thing, a bird in allegedly short supply accompanied by its allies from a heavy-handed regulatory system.

T.R. Mader, research director at the Abundant Wildlife Society of North America, provides a specific example: "An elderly couple in Georgia, needing money for medical expenses, sought to sell timber on their private land only to be stopped by a bird, the red-cockaded woodpecker. No, the bird doesn't live on their land, but U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Georgia Forestry Commission officials reportedly found 17 trees with 'possible' abandoned red-cockaded woodpecker nests. The family has lived there for 80 years. Nobody, including the FWS, has ever seen this woodpecker on the property." Still, no birds, no timber harvesting, no money for medical expenses.

The conclusion by Lueck and Michael? "The Endangered Species Act actually reduces the amount of endangered species habitat."

Mice, too

It's the same with mice. A study published last December in Conservation Biology examined the reaction of private landowners to the listing under the Endangered Species Act of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse as "threatened." More than 30,000 acres in Colorado and Wyoming are listed as "critical habitat" for the mouse, meaning mandatory set-asides and restricted building options for landowners. What the study found was that landowners, once a species is listed, are more likely to destroy needed habitat than they are to adopt conservation measures.

More is being destroyed, unfortunately, than wildlife habitat:

In California, people have seen their homes burn to the ground because they weren't permitted to create a firewall by plowing under brush on their own property, brush that was officially designated as "critical habitat" for kangaroo rats.

In New York, a court, citing endangered species law, ruled that property owners couldn't install a short snake-proof fence to prevent rattlers from freely traversing their land.

In Washington state, four firefighters died in an out-of-control fire in the Okanogan National Forest after repeated requests to obtain water from a river containing "endangered" fish were denied by the U.S. Forest Service.

Robert J. Smith, director of environmental studies at the Cato Institute, provides the lesson that the government is teaching: "Make sure there is nothing on your land that might attract wildlife or rare species. It will merely bring oppressive attention from federal bureaucrats." The solution that people have come up with when they spot something that's allegedly endangered on their property? It's called "shoot, shovel and shut up."

The government's answer, in short, has backfired. What started out as a goal of protecting bald eagles and grizzlies has turned into a bureaucracy that now puts rats and bugs ahead of property rights and the lives of firefighters.

=====

I'd do the same thing too, if it meant that I lose my private property rights.
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Old Apr 5, 2004, 04:36 PM   #2
wwworry
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The Endangered Species Act doesn't specifically address firefighter safety. But a 1995 directive from the Fish and Wildlife Service, which enforces the act, makes clear life and property come first.

The directive says: "FIREFIGHTER SAFETY COMES FIRST ON EVERY FIRE, EVERY TIME.... NEVER delay the measures needed to protect the lives of fire crews waiting for (endangered species) consultation."
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"One of the things we're having trouble with is, the Forest Service is making these kids look like heroes," Weaver's mother, Barbara, told the Wenatchee World this week. "Their lives were taken from them. They were not out there trying to save somebody's life. They were led down a dead-end road and sat there to do nothing —that's the story." Indeed, the inferno had raged for more than a day; it didn't suddenly "erupt." Trapped firefighters waited for more than nine hours for water to be dropped while bureaucrats dithered over concerns about endangered species in the water supply. It was too late for Craven, FitzPatrick, Johnson and Weaver, who died in their emergency fire shelters as the flames swept over them.
So someone is blaming the endangered species act when really the forest service f-ed up.

-----------------------------

I have seen the TR Mader stuff repeated verbatim in several instances but who is the Georgia couple? Hard to confirm that one.
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Old Apr 5, 2004, 06:15 PM   #3
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All too typical. Opponents of environmental legislation (or really, any type of legislation) selectively report the facts to make their case. This is a perfect example of the laziness, dishonesty, and outright lies that make the American media a joke.

Of course, when the government uses selective fact reporting to further its own goals, one can hardly expect the media not to follow suit...
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Old Apr 5, 2004, 06:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frohickey
In Washington state, four firefighters died in an out-of-control fire in the Okanogan National Forest after repeated requests to obtain water from a river containing "endangered" fish were denied by the U.S. Forest Service.
The implication here is that the denial is directly related to the deaths. Very untrue. The reasons they died was because they were young and inexperienced and had insufficient backup. Nothing like twisting the facts to fit the crime. Some people will do anything to prove their point including using the deaths of four young people.

The greater issue here is that a forest can only be a forest if it is a complete ecosystem. IOW, a forest is not only a collection of trees, but also insects, birds, mammals, plants, algae, etc, etc. As we are learning, in some cases way too late, some of the smallest components can have a tremendous impact on the whole but unfortunately it is mostly not discovered until those components are extinct. It's funny how conservatives are only conservative about their money and not the planet.
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Old Apr 5, 2004, 07:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ugg
The greater issue here is that a forest can only be a forest if it is a complete ecosystem. IOW, a forest is not only a collection of trees, but also insects, birds, mammals, plants, algae, etc, etc. As we are learning, in some cases way too late, some of the smallest components can have a tremendous impact on the whole but unfortunately it is mostly not discovered until those components are extinct. It's funny how conservatives are only conservative about their money and not the planet.
Oh, I wouldn't say that. I think I'm a conservative and I would be a very strident conservative if I owned my own piece of land. In fact, I would consider it awesome if I can call a piece of land my own that I can build a house on, along with plenty of room to go hiking, fishing, hunting, biking, off-roading, etc. Last I read, a good piece of land that can sustain wildlife in enough numbers for a thriving population of deer, has plenty of other small critters and healthy habitat for the deer to thrive in.

The issue here is that you have non-owners trying to dictate the wise management of the piece of land that is not theirs. The unintended consequence is opposite what the environmentalists had wanted. If what the environmentalists do is educate and inform the owners as to what a particular action would do, everyone would be better off. You would have informed owners doing whats best for themselves, and that includes the piece of land they own.
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Old Apr 5, 2004, 08:12 PM   #6
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Here is another article about how environmental regulations end up hurting the environment.

I was lucky to be able to hear Mr. Vande Pol speak. Opened my eyes on how some of these laws are being used to the detriment of the environment.
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Old Apr 6, 2004, 12:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frohickey
The unintended consequence is opposite what the environmentalists had wanted.
So says the article, which has already been shown to make use of exaggeration.

The cases presented are heavily dependent on anecdotal evidence to support the article's overall case.

I'm not defending the bureaucracy, I'm sure they do plenty of stupid things.

So do zoning boards and historical preservation societies.
In fact, in cities, you're going to have a much bigger problem doing what you please with your own property than if you live in the country, where enforcement is lax and staff and funding for such endeavors is spread thin.
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Old Apr 6, 2004, 09:26 AM   #8
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Frohickey, I'm sending you a screamapillar for Christmas this year.
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Old Apr 6, 2004, 02:09 PM   #9
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Good. My cat loves eating crawling things. He's good for my cat food budget.
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Old Apr 6, 2004, 02:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Frohickey
Good. My cat loves eating crawling things. He's good for my cat food budget.
Oh, did I mention I'd be sending an ESA enforcement person along too?
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Old Apr 6, 2004, 05:04 PM   #11
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Oh, did I mention I'd be sending an ESA enforcement person along too?
Cool. Rottie needs to eat too.

or...

Is the ESA enforcement person going to be the one to deliver the fuzzy screamapillar? I could always refuse delivery.
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Old Apr 6, 2004, 05:11 PM   #12
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I think that the ESA is a big sledgehammer that has a lot of unintended consequences.

I think a better way is to make information available to property owners so that they can do what is best for themselves and their property.
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