Thursday, December 1, 2016

PLF launches campaign to 'save wildlife', farmland

From the Pacific Legal Foundation:
“Stop Starving Farms and Wildlife” is the theme of a public information campaign that Pacific Legal Foundation launched today, to highlight how federally decreed water reductions in the San Joaquin Valley are victimizing federally protected species.

Over the past seven years, federal environmental officials have ordered a sharp curtailment in the operation of the state and federal water projects in California. In a strategy to help two species on the Endangered Species Act list — the Delta smelt and salmon in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — officials have imposed draconian reductions on water deliveries to the agricultural heartland of the San Joaquin Valley, and to tens of millions of urban water users in Southern California.

Watch a one-minute video

This policy has been widely criticized for its harmful economic consequences and questionable effectiveness (the smelt, for example, has kept declining nearly to the point of disappearing).

However, there has been comparatively little discussion of another damaging dimension — the peril that the policy creates for other species that are supposed to be protected by the federal government under the Endangered Species Act.

The feds say “No water for you!” to species they’re supposed to protect

“We are launching an educational campaign to highlight the scandalous irony at the heart of the federal government’s draconian water cutbacks in Central and Southern California,” said Tony Francois, a PLF senior staff attorney. “In a so-called protection policy for two selected species -- a policy that may not even be helping them -- federal officials are causing outright harm for other ESA-listed animals by withholding water from their habitat, including the region’s farms and open spaces.

“Instead of developing a well-rounded, holistic approach to species regulation, federal officials are essentially saying, ‘No water for you!’ to a host of species that they are supposed to be protecting,” Francois continued. “This is not just irresponsible, it is a violation of the regulators’ duties to safeguard all endangered and threatened wildlife from further degradation.

“In fact, we believe this myopic approach to smelt and salmon regulation is vulnerable to a legal challenge, precisely because of the government’s failure to consider the interests of other protected species,” said Francois. “We look forward to hearing from wildlife lovers and owners of habitat areas who share these concerns and would consider the possibility of becoming involved.”

Some of the more well-known Central Valley species that are listed under the ESA, but which are potentially affected by the water cutoffs that ESA regulators have imposed, include:

· Buena Vista Lake shrew
· California condor
· California red legged frog
· California tiger salamander
· Conservancy fairy shrimp
· San Joaquin kit fox
· Southwestern willow fly catcher
· Vernal pool fairy shrimp
· Vernal pool tadpole shrimp

PLF’s multidimensional informational campaign will include: outreach to all segments of the media, including guest appearances on television and radio by PLF attorneys and op-ed distribution to newspapers and online outlets; speeches at forums; educational programs; and broad distribution of PLF literature that details the serious environmental consequences when habitat for endangered and threatened species is arbitrarily robbed of water.

PLF welcomes hearing from potential supporters of our campaign throughout California and beyond. Interested individuals are invited to register at PLF’s website to receive e-alerts.

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