A month ago, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced it may narrow the scope of the Endangered Species Act. While PlayCleanGo’s message promotes preventing the spread of invasive species, our members know their work is a means to an end: to protect the lands and waters that we love.
By some estimates, “400 of the 958 species listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act are at risk primarily because of competition with and predation by non-indigenous species.” As recreationists, we all have opportunities to make big differences in the places we visit.
Here are 5 reasons to care about the Endangered Species Act:
- The policy conserves not only endangered and threatened wildlife, but also the habitats they need to thrive.
Revisions to the Act lessen protections for threatened species and allow economic considerations to affect new listings. This may mean less habitat area managed for preventing invasive species, which continue to spread even to pristine places.
- The Act’s legal flexibility reflects the diversity of methods needed to restore each habitat.
No two species are affected by the same threats, both in terms of time and geography. Effective restoration plans consider habitat loss, invasive species, overharvesting, pollution, climate change and more. The new changes narrow legal definitions concerning timeline and methods, which may hinder creative restoration strategies.
- Its legal requirements encourage innovation.
“Invasive species have interfered with the recovery or contributed to the decline of 42 percent of federally listed threatened and endangered species,” the Department of the Interior reported to a Senate Committee in 2017. To minimize regulatory burdens to the public (including severe economic burdens associated with invasive species control), the Department has improved its partnerships, management, and technology, providing models for invasive species managers worldwide.
- The Endangered Species Act spreads beyond our borders.
First enacted in 1973 in response to the worldwide extinction crisis, the Endangered Species Act not only preserves the natural heritage of the United States, but also influences exploitation and restoration worldwide.
- The Endangered Species Act works.
When carried out to its legal extent, the Endangered Species Act has fully recovered 39 species and by some estimates at least 227 species would have likely gone extinct since the law’s passage in 1973. From iconic figures such as the Louisiana black bear and the bald eagle, to delicate creatures such as the Karner blue butterflyand vernal fairy shrimp, our lands and waters are richer because of the protections for these species. When we keep invasive species out of habitats where they don’t belong, we give native, endangered plants and animals much-needed competitive boosts.
Contact your Representative in Congress to tell them you support the Endangered Species Act. Stay informed as the story unfolds.