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The Endangered Species Act and a Chance for Reform

Friday, October 18, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Katelin Baker
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FLA President, Joe Hopkins Testifies at Congressional Working Group Hearing on ESA Reform. Your participation will be pivotal in making needed improvements to ESA. View this email in your browser.

October 17, 2013

The 40th Birthday of ESA

FLA President, Joe Hopkins gives testimony to law's impact and paves way for more FLA members to do the same.

FLA President, Joe Hopkins traveled to Washington D.C. last week to testify at a hearing held by a Congressional Working Group. The forum, "Reviewing 40 Years of the Endangered Species Act and Seeking Improvement for People and Species,” featured 17 panelists. Each panelist provided testimonies on adverse impacts by unreasonable restrictions that are found in or caused by the Endangered Species Act.
Having personally experienced the negative impact ESA can have on landowners, Hopkins shared the law’s failure to provide clear guidance to landowners seeking help. An ESA listing can trigger partial regulatory takings which are not protected under the Fifth Amendment for just compensation due to a Supreme Court ruling.

 Joe Hopkins experienced this misguided regulation after a devastating wildfire on his property impacted a colony of ESA listed Red Cockaded Woodpeckers. The Red Cockaded Woodpecker is the only Woodpecker that bores its cavities exclusively in living pines. Because the ESA recovery guidelines fail to include application for disaster situations, Hopkins actively sought out guidance from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to harvest what remained from the fire. Unable to provide clear direction on how to proceed, Hopkins was forced to let the stand deteriorate and could only salvage a fraction of the total land value. Unable to avoid a partial regulatory taking, Hopkins realized a significant financial loss.

Burdening Landowners like Hopkins with the financial loss of regulatory partial takings by an unclear and misguided law call for the need to reform ESA regulations.

Hopkins suggested to the Working Group that the law be reformed to be subject to the Fifth Amendment’s just compensation clause, have guidelines that adhere to science, and have a goal to balance the economic impact of the regulatory taking with the success of a recovery for a protected species.


Call to Action

  • FLA President, Joe Hopkins testifies before Congress on the real-world economic impacts of the ESA
  • FLA members are asked to submit their experiences, concerns and suggestions to Congress


Share your Story Today

Click to write your ESA Experience»


Watch the Forum Video





Other panelists related to forestry practices echoed the same concerns as Hopkins. State Senator Tom Casperson from Michigan discussed the decline of responsible timber harvest in his state. He noted that the ESA is "killing the timber industry” and that his state "needs help, needs relief, and needs it fast”.

Mike Wood, a business agent for Union Sawmill Workers of Plumas County, CA, also discussed the need for better balance in the law between species and people:

"The lack of emphasis on the ‘human element’ causes a cascade of detrimental conditions not only to the forests themselves, but to the jobs in the state, communities in the forests, water supply for California, recreational opportunities, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions from fires, and imports of wood products from areas with less environmental constraints.”

Hopkins’ full testimony is available at .


Share Your Personal Experience


The fundamental goal of the Working Group is to hear all angles of the ESA, its impacts on species and people over the last 40 years, and potential improvements going forward.

The ESA Working Group is asking landowners to share their experiences, concerns, suggestions for improvement, and any other information regarding the ESA. FLA is collecting your stories and suggestions to send to the Congressional Working Group.

An honest and fair discussion on how the ESA might be improved will depend on you providing your experiences and suggestions. Ensure the interests of private landowners are represented at the table by writing Congress today.

Share your Story »


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