Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
WESTERN GOVERNORS' ASSOCIATION OFFERS BIPARTISAN,
Karen Deike (303) 623-9378
Kevin Moran (202) 330-3065
CONSENSUS-BASED RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING ESA
DENVER - Saying the tools currently used to implement the Endangered Species Act are outdated and incomplete, Western Governors pledged today to work with Congress in building a bipartisan consensus for "targeted, common-sense enhancements" to the Act.
Govs. Bill Owens of Colorado and Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming submitted testimony on behalf of the Western Governors' Association to the Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
"The intent of the ESA remains a laudable goal," the governors said, adding that they "strongly believe that the ESA can only be reauthorized through legislation developed in a consensus fashion that results in broad bipartisan support."
Western governors have worked with each other and a diverse set of stakeholders in developing recommendations in four areas:
Govs. Owens and Freudenthal said these four enhancements are not only "the most critical, but we also strongly believe them to be achievable."
- Require recovery goals for listed species. Western Governors believe that recovery and, ultimately delisting of species covered by the ESA should be the highest priority of the Act. Federal funding for ESA activities should be prioritized to reflect this priority. We believe that the best way to accomplish this goal is to require the Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA-Fisheries to publish quantifiable recovery goals, in consultation with the affected state(s), for threatened or endangered species at the time of the listing decision to provide for objective recovery criteria that both state and federal agencies may work toward in the recovery process. In cases where quantification of recovery goals is not initially feasible, the services should be required to publish a plan, including a timeline, describing the steps the federal agencies will take in identifying measurable goals.
- Enhance the role of state governments in recovering species. The Endangered Species Act can effectively be implemented only through a full partnership between the states and the federal government. One way to accomplish this partnership would be to authorize the delegation of authority for the development of conservation plans on a voluntary basis to states that choose to accept such delegation, and agree with the appropriate Secretary(s) to perform them in accordance with specified standards. Authority should also be given to the appropriate Secretary to provide grants for the additional administrative costs to the state.
- Ensure the use of good science in ESA decisions. Given the broad implications that may arise when ESA actions are taken, significant decisions must be made using objective, peer-reviewed science. Peer review of listing, recovery and de-listing decisions by acknowledged independent experts is important to ensure the public that decisions are well-reasoned and scientifically based. Peer review committees should be agreed upon by the Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA-Fisheries and the state. State agencies also have expertise and other institutional resources such as mapping capabilities, biological inventories and other important data that should be employed in developing endangered species listing and recovery decisions.
- Incentives for conservation are essential. Western Governors believe that providing economic incentives for landowners to participate in conservation efforts is likely to achieve more efficient and cost-effective results and may lead to more rapid conservation.
"As a nation, we need to change the paradigm we are currently under and we need to do it soon. The Act has become too contentious; the parties too litigious; there is too little collaboration and trust between stakeholders; and conservation efforts have suffered as a result," they said. "Public confidence can be restored only through successful, constructive actions that result in the recovery of species. In other words we believe that, if adopted, these four principles could be the proverbial mustard seed that paves the way for possible future enhancements to the Act that build upon that success."
The governors' complete testimony and background on WGA's ESA initiative may be found on the WGA website.
The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific. Through their Association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management.
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