By Joe Albert Staff Writer
Minneapolis – A bill that’s passed the U.S. House and is slated
for discussion in the Senate in the near future, would
significantly weaken the Endangered Species Act, according to two
Dave Zentner of Duluth, a past president of the Izaak Walton
League, along with Tony Dean, an outdoors personality from South
Dakota, say legislation crafted by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif.,
would ‘eviscerate’ the act, passed in 1973.
Dean this week was giving five presentations in four states –
including appearances with Zentner in Duluth and Minneapolis – to
raise awareness of the issue, and to try to rally support for the
Endangered Species Act.
‘You need a vivid imagination to say the Pombo bill would
strengthen the ESA,’ Dean said.
Zentner acknowledged the ESA has its problems – mostly in its
administration – but said overall, it’s done a good job. He also
urged reauthorization of the Act, which hasn’t happened in nearly
20 years. It’s currently funded on a year-to-year basis.
‘I don’t think the status quo is acceptable, but we can’t accept
this piece of legislation,’ Zentner said. ‘It’s awful; it’s
Since its inception, ‘the ESA has failed to recover endangered
species while conflict and litigation have plagued local
communities and private property owners alike,’ according to a news
release on Pombo’s website.
Minnesota Reps. John Kline, Collin Peterson, and Mark Kennedy
are listed as cosponsors of the bill.
According to a Congressional summary prepared after Pombo’s
Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005 passed the
House last fall, the legislation:
Requires the secretary of the Interior to determine which data
constitute the best available scientific data;
Revises criteria for determining endangered or threatened
species, and requires the secretary of the Interior to make such
determinations only sparingly and to prepare an analysis when such
determinations are made of the economic, national security, and
other relevant impacts of such determinations;
Eliminates the critical habitat designation;
Requires the secretary to give priority to species most likely
to benefit from recovery plans, especially those species in
conflict with economic development;
Requires the secretary to make annual payments to private
landowners for species recovery and conservation activities, and
prohibits federal officials from coercing participation.
Opponents of the ESA say it can be costly for landowners when an
endangered species is found on their land, and can hold up or stop
development projects that have the potential to harm endangered
Zentner said the country should respect the rights of private
landowners, but also respect community rights to the protection of
‘This is taking the right of the community and putting it in the
hands of developers,’ Zentner said. ‘That’s bad governance.’
Dean, referring to the teachings of famed conservationist Aldo
Leopold, described a natural inter-relation between all living
things, and in a copy of his presentation, said, ‘The insect that
feeds on the sap under the bark of the tree is consumed by the
woodpecker, which is eaten by the hawk Š each, in turn, depending
on the other.’
All of those parts are protected by the ESA, and would be
stripped of protection under Pombo’s bill, Dean said.
‘Any time a species becomes threatened or endangered it means
something is missing out there,’ he said. ‘As Aldo Leopold said, we
have to save all the parts.’