Tuesday, February 15, 2005

No money to recover species

sphere: Endangered Species Recovery: “There's No Money for It”:

The northern population of the bog turtle was listed as federally threatened in 1997 and several years after that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its formal bog turtle recovery plan. …

The plan includes a detailed list of tasks to help the bog turtle recover. These include using existing land use and development regulations to protect turtles; protecting turtle habitat through purchase, long-term stewardship agreements and voluntary partnerships with landowners; regular population surveys and monitoring; genetic research; a reintroduction program where appropriate; and better law enforcement to reduce poaching, among other steps.

Geographically, the plan breaks the bog turtle’s range into recovery units, and sets goals for each unit. And the plan ends with a detailed implementation schedule.

The scientist who wrote the plan is very smart. He’s an accomplished scientist who has thoroughly studied the connection between development and biodiversity; and he’s passionate about his work and about the reptiles and amphibians that he studies.

So I asked him if he could give me a couple of examples of where the recovery plan has been at least moderately successful. He looked at me as if I had asked him for a recipe for turtle soup.

“Nobody’s doing it,” he said. “There’s no money for it.”

And that was that. The federal government had gone to the trouble of listing the bog turtle as a threatened species, and this first-rate conservation biologist had written a recovery plan that in all respects seemed excellent. And yet as of now, it will have no effect on whether bog turtles recover or continue to fade slowly toward extinction.

Does that mean the Endangered Species Act is a failure? Not to me. All it means is that the ESA is not enough of a priority to be allocated the money it needs to determine if it is a success or a failure.
Exactly. There are all these endangered species, and all we know about them is that they're endangered.

That's my emphasis, not This Sphere's.