- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2013

I must take issue with many of Taylor Jones‘ statements in her letter “Endangered Species Act is worth the fight” (Friday). Ms. Jones‘ claim that “The law simply requires common sense measures to minimize harm to imperiled species” is simply untrue. Considering most endangered species dwell on privately owned land, any law that makes such occurrences a liability rather than an asset to the landowner makes no sense at all, common or otherwise. Without the Endangered Species Act (ESA), most landowners would brag about having something rare on their property and protect it without the need for any government action. The ESA punishes a landowner for harboring an endangered species and consequently destroys this attitude.

Ms. Jones‘ claim that the ESA’s intrusive nature on landowners is a myth is laughable. Years ago, a local resident wanted to build a home on his Mason Neck property but was prevented from doing so because of a nesting bald eagle nearby on federally owned park land. The claim was that the construction noise would disturb the eagle. Yet it was well known at the time that bald eagles voluntarily nested directly downrange from 120mm tank guns being tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Few people will ever hear a noise in their lifetime as loud as one of these guns, and that the blast was tolerated by nesting eagles makes it unlikely the Mason Neck eagle would have abandoned its nest because of construction noise.

Ms. Jones claims such incidents are minimal, yet a Republican-proposed ESA version that compensated landowners was successfully fought by claiming such compensation would be too costly. Additionally, the Republican version prioritized protected species based on their uniqueness, with the highest priority given to a single-species genus. This would prevent what is now a common ESA abuse: stopping a project by finding a “different” species.

There is nothing wrong with the intent of the ESA, but those of Ms. Jones‘ ilk and such organizations that use the ESA as a weapon against private landowners do far more harm than good in their quest to protect endangered species.

LESTER VIA

Springfield, Va.