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Testimony on Endangered Species Act Reform

  • Jonathan Wood
  • An endangered California Condor. © Gregory Smith

    Prepared statement before the Congressional Western Caucus Endangered Species Act Forum.

    Main Points
    • The Endangered Species Act has, to its credit, been effective at avoiding extinctions but it has fallen short in meeting the law’s ultimate goal of recovering species.
    • Achieving this goal will require reforms that improve incentives for private landowners to restore habitat and undertake other recovery efforts.
    • It will also require reforms encouraging states to develop innovative conservation programs and to build trust with the conservation community.

    Chairman Newhouse, members of the Congressional Western Caucus, thank you for hosting this important and timely forum. As the Endangered Species Act ends its first half-century and enters its second, this is an opportune time to reflect on what the law has done well and where it has proven lacking. In brief, the law has been effective at avoiding extinction but not at spurring the proactive habitat restoration and other conservation efforts needed to recover species. This is because the law gets the incentives wrong, punishing landowners for the presence of an imperiled species and its habitat rather than rewarding contributions toward recovery. To achieve the ESA’s ultimate goal of recovering species, reforms are needed to reduce conflict, to encourage collaboration, to reward proactive recovery efforts, and to make imperiled species an asset rather than a liability to the private landowners who provide most habitat.

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    Written By
    • Jonathan Wood
      • Vice President of Law & Policy

      Jonathan Wood is vice president of law and policy at PERC, leading PERC’s Conservation Law and Policy Center.

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