State ESA endangered
Some state lawmakers dutifully have introduced a bill to gut the state's Endangered Species Act to better suit narrow interests.
The state law is distinct from the more widely known federal Endangered Species Act. It protects wildlife that is endangered regionally rather than nationally, such as the black-crowned heron, and provides for state management of some endangered species covered by the federal law. There are 88 species on the current state list.
Two state agencies, the Fish & Boat Commission and Game Commission, administer the state law based on science. They are the only state agencies that employ wildlife biologists.
Development interests have lobbied lawmakers for a way around the state law, which industry-friendly lawmakers plan to provide by submitting ESA findings to the Regulatory Review Commission. Rather than scientists and wildlife experts, political appointees would make the call.
The initiative has been couched in terms of simply creating more transparency, but the law includes a back-handed measure to gut the list. It requires a complete review of every listed species within two years. John Arway, executive director of the Fish and Boat Commission, told lawmakers last month that the time frame would be impossible to meet and would guarantee that at least some species would go unprotected.
The law works in the public interest. Lawmakers should abandon the effort to tailor it to narrow interests.