As wildfires get bigger and more costly, federal policies aren’t helping.
Volume 36, No.2, Winter 2017
What if federal regulations designed to protect endangered species actually hindered state-led efforts to enhance their recovery? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what is happening in Utah, where U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations are preventing states from taking actions to protect the threatened Utah prairie dog.
The Endangered Species Act has long pitted property owners in southwestern Utah against the prairie dogs. As Jonathan Wood writes, federal regulations broadly prohibit any activity that affects a single member of the species, even on private property. The result is that residents are prevented from doing basic activities such as building homes, starting small businesses, or making use of community parks, playgrounds, and cemeteries.
The Utah prairie dog case, like many other environmental issues, illustrates how federal policies often have perverse effects that undermine the very goals they aim to promote. This issue explores several other examples—from wildfire policy to public land stewardship—including much more.