By Tommy Hough
So it's already comes to this. Perhaps the only place Republicans expect to see wildlife these days is in zoos or hunting preserves, but it may shock Republicans in Congress that their constituents voted for them to address actual, problems in their lives – not to undo the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, privatize the U.S. Postal Service, or make it easier to run roughshod over our nation's wildlife and wild places.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what Republicans are trying to do. On the eve of Trump's inauguration, they've announced dangerous – albeit expected – legislation in the House to allow developers and resource extractors to jettison adherence to the landmark Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Signed into law by President Nixon in 1973, the ESA has successfully aided in the preservation of once-critically endangered species like the American bald eagle and American gray wolf (now vulnerable in some states) by regulating "development untempered by adequate concern and conservation."
To quote conservationist and photographer Renée Owens, "As an environmental consultant for 22 years in the thick of ESA actions I can tell you the ESA creates many thousands of jobs. Since its inception in 1973 it has it stopped a development under its protective auspices about a dozen times, out of many millions of projects under its purview. So when they call it a job killer or something that stops development, it is truly b_______."
The ESA continues to ensure protections at the federal level for the Canadian lynx and hundreds of other endangered and threatened animals, including the desert tortoise, commonly found in the deserts of California, Nevada and Arizona. Now, Republicans in Congress are angling to do away with the Endangered Species Act at the exact moment President Obama leaves office, leaving our nation's threatened wildlife vulnerable.
And while the U.S. Supreme Court agreed "the intent of Congress in enacting" the ESA "was to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction" in 1978, it's not just about saving wildlife and protecting endangered animals. The ESA also enables protection of habitat from reckless development – and over-development.
In Northern California, the ESA protects the Northern spotted owl from extinction, after being listed as endangered in 1990 when western old-growth forests were being unsustainably logged into oblivion. A rollback of the ESA could pave the way for a return to massive clearcutting in western forests with protections for the Northern spotted owl and Marbled Murrelet rendered irrelevant.
Help us push back now, and we'll make Congress think twice about meddling with our nation's other long-standing conservation measures. Call your senators and congressional representatives now and tell them rollbacks to our long-standing conservation policies are entirely unacceptable.
Call today – remember, everything changes on Friday with Trump's inauguration. And while you're at it, become a club member of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action and stand with us against the GOP Congress and their radical attempts to roll back our nation's conservation legacy.
We've included our list of California Congressional Delegation district offices here, both Democrat and Republican:
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D)
750 B St., Suite 1030
San Diego, CA 92101
Sen. Kamala Harris (D)
600 B St., Suite 2240
San Diego, CA 92101
U.S. House of Representatives
Representative Darrell Issa (R)
49th Congressional District (CA-49)
1800 Thibodo Rd., Suite 310
Vista, CA 92081
Representative Duncan D. Hunter (R)
50th Congressional District (CA-50)
1611 N. Magnolia Ave., Suite 310
El Cajon, CA 92020
Representative Juan Vargas (D)
51st Congressional District (CA-51)
333 F St., Suite A
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Representative Scott Peters (D)
52nd Congressional District (CA-52)
4350 Executive Dr., Suite 105
San Diego, CA 92121
Representative Susan Davis (D)
53rd Congressional District (CA-53)
2700 Adams Ave., Suite 102
San Diego, CA 92116
Bald eagle photo courtesy of the National Park Service
Wolf photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
A former San Diego broadcaster and media personality, Tommy Hough is a wilderness and conservation advocate, communications professional, California Democratic Party delegate, and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.