Senator Tom Casperon (R-Escanaba) testified last week in Washington D.C. in front of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Congressional Working Group forum.
The forum, “Reviewing 40 Years of the Endangered Species Act and Seeking Improvement for People and Species,” featured 17 panelists.
Each panelist represents a wide range of diverse groups and interests across the country. They discussed ways the ESA could be altered to better serve state issues and needs.
“Michigan residents and our natural resources, especially in the Upper Peninsula, have been significantly and adversely impacted by unreasonable restrictions that are found in or caused by the Endangered Species Act,” Casperson said in a press release. “While the law serves a worthwhile intent, it has been used for decades by those looking to limit use of the natural resources and land-based industries, which impacts local communities and impairs economic growth, especially in the U.P.”
He highlighted a few examples how the Upper Peninsula has been unfavorably affected by the ESA. He said damage and losses caused by species–including wolves and cormorants–have been exacerbated by protections through the ESA and other regulations.
He explained that management of national forests has been limited with harvests of less than 50% of allowable sales quantities for many years, which has created artificial restraint on timber availability.
Another example Casperson brought up was the Marquette Road Commission attempts to build County Road 595 were stopped by several federal agencies, including the EPA and U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service. The agencies cited environment concerns that ranged from threatened and endangered species that “could” be present, to wetland regulations.
Casperson told the ESA working group that there needs to be more management at the local or state level, the need for balance within the law, and the need to address ESA being abused as a tool by those with an environmental agenda.
“I am extremely pleased that Senator Casperson was able to provide a voice for the State of Michigan on the Endangered Species Act Working Group forum here in Washington, D.C.,” Congressman Bill Huizenga said in a press release, who invited Casperson to testify because of his expertise and statewide leadership on the issue. “Due to the abundance of natural resources in Michigan, from the shorelines of our Great Lakes, to our many farms and forests, the ESA broadly impacts our state. I believe that we need to empower states, local governments, and private landowners to conserve species and avoid federal listings. Many of the decisions made in Michigan have proven that species protection and human activity can be compatible.”
The public is encouraged to submit written comments, ideas and recommendations to the Endangered Species Act Working Group at: esaworkinggroup.hastings.house.gov/esa/contact.htm.