Endangered Species Reform Act Bill Moves Ahead

Understood to be the first step needed to modify the 32-year-old Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. House Resources Committee approved H.R. 3824, the “Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005 (TESRA), last week.
Introduced by California Congressmen Richard Pombo (R-Tracy), Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) and George Radanovich (R-Fresno), as well as Oregon Congressman Greg Walden (R-Oregon), TESRA is a bipartisan bill designed to require the application of peer-reviewed science to support the recovery of species that are threatened or endangered.
Supporters say State Governors and State Agencies would have more participation; private property rights would be protected; voluntary conservation efforts would be encouraged; and accountability to the public with cost analysis information would be required.
Also under the measure, landowners would be compensated if development of their property were restricted under the act, and they could earn grant money for acting voluntarily to protect endangered species.
In their introduction of the bill, the congressmen took turns describing examples of situations within their districts providing evidence that the ESA is doing more harm than good. Species are not recovering under this unsuccessful program and litigation is rampant, according to these elected officials.
“The off-road business community enthusiastically supports Chairman Pombo's efforts on this issue,” said Roy Denner, President of the Off-Road Business Association. “The off-road recreation industry is a major economic engine in this country and closures of public lands to vehicle access with little or no scientific support-just because the ESA allows it-has had a serious negative impact on this industry.”
“I was glad to see both political parties at the news conference supporting an effort to reform the ESA,” said Don Amador, western representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition. “For too long, our access rights and the rights of private property owners have been sacrificed on the altar of unjustified land closures.”
The full House could vote on the bill as early as this week.

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