U.S. Endangered Species Act marks 20th Anniversary

Nigel Allen ndallen at r-node.io.org
Thu Jan 6 01:23:51 EST 1994


Here is a press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
I downloaded the press release from the PR On-Line BBS in
Maryland at 410-363-0834. I do not work for the U.S. government.

 Endangered Species Act Marks 20th Anniversary with String of
Successes, Interior Department Says
 To: National Desk, Environment Writer
 Contact: Georgia Parham of the U.S. Department of the Interior,
           202-208-5634

   WASHINGTON, Dec. 30  -- Two decades ago, the bald eagle,
American alligator, gray whale and peregrine falcon seemed
destined for extinction.
   Twenty years have passed since the Endangered Species Act became
law, and today the alligator no longer needs the protection of the
act.  The bald eagle, gray whale and peregrine show great promise of
returning to healthy numbers.
   "The Endangered Species Act is one of this country's most
successful conservation laws," said Mollie Beattie, director of the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Interior Department agency
charged with implementing the act.  "Without the act in place, we
might have lost our national symbol along with many other lesser
known species and with them many important ecosystems."
   In fact, four species have recovered to the point that they no
longer need the act's protection, while 17 have been upgraded from
endangered to the less serious threatened category.  And more success
stories are on the way.
   "In 1993 alone, the Fish and Wildlife Service has been able to
propose removing one species, the arctic peregine falcon, from the
list, as well as upgrading seven species to threatened," Beattie
said.  "I expect these numbers to climb dramatically over the next
several years as more and more listed species begin to reach recovery
goals."
   Other species that once teetered on the brink of extinction are
responding well to efforts to save them.  The whooping crane, down to
only 16 birds in the 1940s, now numbers more than 250 in wild and
captive flocks.  Found only in zoos for a number of years, the
California condor once again soars high above the mountains of
southern California.  And the red wolf, which had to be rescued from
extinction through a last-minute removal of animals from the wild, is
again roaming native haunts in the Southeast.
   Black-footed ferrets, small mammals that once inhabited vast
stretchs of the Great Plains, were thought to have become extinct by
the 1970s.  But in 1981, a farmer's dog killed a ferret, leading
biologists to discover a tiny remnant population near Meeteetse, Wyo.
Ten years later, captive breeding programs paid off with a
rintroduction of black-footed ferrets into the wilds of Wyoming's
Shirley Basin.
   Innovative cooperative management efforts between government and
private interests are also producing dramatic results for species
recovery.  The Georgia-Pacific Co. recently announced it would manage
millions of acres of its forestland in the Southeast using measures
aimed at meeting the habitat needs of the endangered red-cockaded
woodpecker.  In return, the company has been assured its timber
activities meet applicable requirements of the Endangered Species
Act.
   The cooperative atmosphere has triggered increasing interest in
development of habitat conservation plans and special rules,
mechanisms of the act that allow development projects and protected
species to co-exist.  Habitat conservation plans, formulated by
agricultural, developmental or other interests, allow projects to go
forward in areas occupied by listed species as long as the species'
overall welfare is maintained.  Plans are already in place for such
species as the northern spotted owl, desert tortoise, and Florida
scrub jay, with dozens of others in the works.  A special rule under
the act is providing similar but larger-scale planning for the
coastal California gnatcatcher, which lives in several densely
populated southern California counties.
   "What we've come to understand over the past 20 years is that this
country's economic vitality is ultimately dependent on its overall
environmental health," said Beattie.  "When we list a species,
regardless of what that species is, we're getting a clear signal that
the natural resources we ourselves depend on -- clean air, adequate
water, a healthy diversity of life -- are truly in jeopardy.  By
ensuring the continued existence of endangered species, we ultimately
ensure our own survival."

 -30-



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