After 30 years of an ineffective Endangered Species Act (ESA), The Forest Landowners Association (FLA) supports a new and more effective method of conserving species and ecosystems which includes private forest landowners in the process and place greater emphasis on recovery actions, rather than over bureaucratic listing actions.
ESA law aw provides federal agencies sweeping powers for removing productive forestlands from economic uses by declaring land essential for the habitat of threatened/endangered species.
ESA provides no public interest or economic tests for recovery plans and does not require a consensus of scientific opinion to determine the status of species or even a deliberate process for ensuring such an outcome.
Agency regulation has consistently expanded ESA powers under which federal agencies can "take" private land for habitat conservation. The costs of landowner compliance with the law are significant.
ESA is ineffective. After 30 years, ESA has removed only 12 of the 1304 species listed.
We believe the conservation of species and ecosystems is important to society. However, the current Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing process has dramatized the enormous power of the ESA to affect landowners, workers, industry, and regional economies in ways never intended by the statute's authors. The law is a failure – let’s make it work.
Endangered species live predominantly on private lands. Congress must take steps to incentivize landowner species stewardship. The ESA must place greater emphasis on recovery actions, rather than over bureaucratic listing actions.
The government should analyze alternative strategies when preparing recovery plans. Peer review of scientific data by independent third parties, particularly of controversial decisions, will improve the decision-making process and minimize controversy.
Analyze the impacts of recovery strategies and consider which strategies may lessen the more serious impacts of species recovery on society, the economy, and the environment.
Law should require that agencies talk to the landowners involved and to include them in discussions that concern their property.
Private landowners who cede control of their lands to society in the name of preserving threatened and/or endangered species should receive just compensation for property lost. A "Market Values Board" might be created to settle "takings" and value disputes that may arise.