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ESAblawg is an educational effort by Keith W. Rizzardi. Correspondence with this site does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Photos or links may be copyrighted (but used with permission, or as fair use). ESA blawg is published with a Creative Commons License.

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florida gators... never threatened!

If you ain't a Gator, you should be! Alligators (and endangered crocs) are important indicator species atop their food chains, with sensitivity to pollution and pesticides akin to humans. See ESA blawg. Gator blood could be our pharmaceutical future, too. See ESA musing.

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Follow the truth.

"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820.

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Thanks, Kevin.

KEVIN S. PETTITT helped found this blawg. A D.C.-based IT consultant specializing in Lotus Notes & Domino, he also maintains Lotus Guru blog.

Sorry about the extended absence... back soon!

06/29/2011

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Dear ESA blawg readers,

For many families, June marks the end of school for the kids. For me, it marked the end of work. Due to Florida's massive budget cuts and the effects on public servants, I am in the middle of a career change, so my blog suffered a temporary setback.

Although the content of ESA blawg slowed for a few weeks, I've engaged in some planning for the long term. Most notably, I am exploring potential partnerships with ARKive, the multimedia guide to the world's endangered species, and St. Thomas University in Miami, where the School of Law this year launched a new LLM program in Environmental Sustaintability.

Bottom line: ESA blawg will be back to form in July! Thanks for your patience.

Keith W. Rizzardi

P.S. Looking for a skilled lawyer to help with water, wildlife, marine resources or Endangered Species Act issues?  Please send a note to ESAblawg@gmail.com

Update: NOAA not listing goliath grouper or bluefin tuna, but proposes critical habitat for Hawaiian monk seal

06/06/2011

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76 Fed. Reg. 31592 (Wednesday, June 1, 2011) / Notices
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Docket No. 110516284–1286–01 / RIN 0648–XA097
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Notice of 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List Goliath Grouper as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.
ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding.
SUMMARY: We (NMFS) announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We find that the petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Accordingly, we will not initiate a status review of the species at this time.

LINKS: Visit NOAA's 2006 Status Report, and WildEarth Guardians 2010 Petition to List the Goliath Grouper (and other fish).

GoliathGrouperAndPhotographer.jpg
Photo from Nature's Best Photography Collection, 2007, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, People in Nature Winner, Photographer and Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara), Jupiter, Florida, USA by Michael Patrick O’Neill, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA, also published at FishingFury.com

***

76 Fed. Reg. 31556 (Wednesday, June 1, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Parts 223 and 224 /Docket No. 100903415–1286–02 / RIN 0648–XW96
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Act Listing Determination for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Notice of a listing determination and availability of a status review document.
SUMMARY: After we, NMFS, received a petition to list Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), we established a status review team (SRT) to conduct a review of the status of Atlantic bluefin tuna. We have reviewed the SRT’s status review report (SRR) and other available scientific and commercial information and have determined that listing Atlantic bluefin tuna as threatened or endangered under the ESA is not warranted at this time. We also announce the availability of the SRR.

KEITHINKING: The Atlantic Magazine was not happy with the NOAA decision, with Barry Estabrook bemoaning Tuna's Slow Death: Feds Refuse to Protect the Bluefin (Again) Tuna's Slow Death: Feds Refuse to Protect the Bluefin (Again).  But Carl Safina expressed a more measured viewpoint in The Huffington Post, acknowledging that Bluefin Tuna are In Danger But Not Endangered, and further explaining his point as follows:  "The bluefin is on a path to endangerment. And so we wait. One of the weaknesses of the Endangered Species Act is that it sets a floor -- preventing total extinction -- rather than setting a standard of abundant, viable populations. (By contrast, the Clean Water Act sets a standard: that America's waterways must be "fishable and swimmable.")"  See also the excellent coverage of this challenging topic of international environmental diplomacy in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Center for American Progress and even the Asbury Park Press Fishing Column.

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76 Fed. Reg. 32026 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
50 CFR Part 226 / Docket No. 110207102–1136–01 / RIN 0648–BA81
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Proposed Rulemaking To Revise Critical Habitat for Hawaiian Monk Seals
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose revising the current critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) by extending the current designation in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) out to the 500-meter (m) depth contour and including Sand Island at Midway Islands; and by designating six new areas in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI), pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specific areas proposed for the MHI include terrestrial and marine habitat from 5 m inland from the shoreline extending seaward to the 500-m depth contour around: Kaula Island, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui Nui (including Kahoolawe, Lanai, Maui, and Molokai), and Hawaii (except those areas that have been identified as not included in the designation). We propose to exclude the following areas from designation because the national security benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion, and exclusion will not result in extinction of the species: Kingfisher Underwater Training area in marine areas off the northeast coast of Niihau; Pacific Missile Range Facility Main Base at Barking Sands, Kauai; Pacific Missile Range Facility Offshore Areas in marine areas off the western coast of Kauai; the Naval Defensive Sea Area and Puuloa Underwater Training Range in marine areas outside Pearl Harbor, Oahu; and the Shallow Water Minefield Sonar Training Range off the western coast of Kahoolawe in the Maui Nui area. We solicit comments on all aspects of the proposal, including information on the economic, national security, and other relevant impacts. We will consider additional information received prior to making a final designation.

FWS downlists tolotoma snail, may list straighthorned markhor, Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly, and golden-winged warbler; adds critical habitat for Riverside Fairy shrimp; issues Molokai Plant Cluster recovery plan; and proposes prairie dog rule revisions.

06/03/2011

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76 Fed. Reg. 31866 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2008–0119; 92220–1113–0000–C6 / RIN 1018–AX01
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification of the Tulotoma Snail From Endangered to Threatened
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), reclassify the tulotoma snail (Tulotoma magnifica) from endangered to threatened, under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This action is based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicates that the endangered designation no longer correctly reflects the status of this snail.

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The tulotoma snail (Tulotoma magnifica), henceforth ‘‘tulotoma,’’ is a gill-breathing, operculate snail in the family Viviparidae. Operculate means that the snail has a rounded plate that seals the mouth of the shell while the snail is inside. The shell is spherical and can reach a size somewhat larger than a golf ball.  The tulotoma is found only in the State of Alabama. ItAt the time of listing in 1991, the tulotoma was known from five localized areas in the lower Coosa River drainage.  Since its listing in 1991, tulotoma populations have also been located at six additional locations: Three in the Coosa River drainage and three in the Alabama River.  Photo courtesy of Dennis DeVries from EncyclopediaOfAlabama.org

***

76 Fed. Reg. 31903 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / FWS–R9–ES–2011–0003; MO 92210–1113F120–B6
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition to Reclassify the Straight-Horned Markhor (Capra falconeri jerdoni) of Torghar Hills as Threatened
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of petition finding and initiation of status review.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to reclassify the Torghar Hills population of straighthorned markhor, or Suleiman markhor, (Capra falconeri jerdoni or C. f. megaceros) from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that reclassifying this subspecies of markhor in the Torghar Hills of Pakistan may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of the entire subspecies to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the straighthorned markhor or the Torghar Hills population. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 31282 (Tuesday, May 31, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2010–0026; MO 92210–0–0008
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List Puerto Rican Harlequin Butterfly as Endangered
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding.
SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly (Atlanteatulita) as endangered and to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. After reviewing all available scientific and commercial information, we find that the listing of the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly is warranted. Currently, however, listing the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly is precluded by higher priority actions to amend the lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Upon publication of this 12-month petition finding, we will add the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly to our candidate species list. If an emergency situation develops with this species that warrants an emergency listing, we will act immediately to provide additional protection. We will develop a proposed rule to list the Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly as our priorities allow. We will make any determination on critical habitat during development of the proposed listing rule. During any interim period, we will address the status of the candidate taxon through our annual Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR). DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on May 31, 2011.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 31920 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2011–0028; MO 92210–0–0008
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Golden-Winged Warbler as Endangered or Threatened
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of petition finding and initiation of status review.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list the goldenwinged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Based on our review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the golden-winged warbler may be warranted. Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of the species to determine if listing the golden-winged warbler is warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding this species. Based on the status review, we will issue a 12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the petitioned action is warranted, as  provided in the Act.

goldenWingedWarbler.jpg
The golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is a neotropical migrant (breeding in North America and wintering in Central and South America).  It is a small-sized passerine, weighing only 8.8 grams (g) (0.31 ounces (oz)). Total body length is 120.65 millimeters (mm) (4.75 inches (in)), with a wingspan of 190.5 mm (7.5 in). Diagnostic features include slate gray plumage on the chest, breast, nape and mantle, with  contrasting yellow patches on the upper wing coverts (sets of small feathers that cover the upper wing area) and crown. Golden-winged warblers breed across the north-central and eastern United States, expanding into southeastern Canada.  For breeding sites, the golden-winged warbler depends mostly on early successional habitats. These are habitats that have previously undergone an amount of disturbance by a natural or human-caused event that creates a structurally diverse landscape. These habitats can occur in upland or lowland areas.  Landscapes that consist of forest edge, shrubs, forests with open canopy, habitats with grassy openings, and wetlands with scattered trees can be viable nesting habitats.  Breeding sites have been documented in abandoned farmlands, powerline cuts, recently logged sites, and locations along stream borders.  Posted by Augie Orlandi, North Central Illinois Ornithological Society, Blog of the Rockford Bird Club.

EXCERPT: we find that the following may pose threats to the golden-winged warbler throughout all or a significant portion of its range, such that the petitioned action may be warranted: Habitat modification and loss of early successional habitat (Factor A); inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms (because existing regulations only provide protection from the sale or take of individuals at localized areas, rather than the entire range, and do not address habitat protection or conservation) (Factor D); and interactions with blue-winged warblers (Factor E). We determine that the information provided under Factors B (overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific or educational purposes) and C (disease or predation) is not substantial. Because we have found that the petition presents substantial information indicating that listing the golden-winged warbler may be warranted, we are initiating a status review to determine whether listing the golden-winged warbler under the Act is warranted.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 31686 (Wednesday, June 1, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2011–0013; MO 92210–0–009 / RIN 1018–AX15
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Critical Habitat for the Riverside Fairy Shrimp
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to revise the currently designated critical habitat for the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus woottoni) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The current critical habitat consists of 306 acres (124 hectares) of land in four units in Ventura, Orange, and San Diego Counties, California. We now propose to designate approximately ,984 acres (1,208 hectares) of land in five units in Ventura, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties, California, which, if finalized as proposed, would result in an increase of approximately 2,678 acres (1,084 hectares) of critical habitat for this species.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 31973 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Notices
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
FWS–R1–ES–2011–N009; 10120–1112–0000–XX
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Notice of Availability of Draft Recovery Plan for Phyllostegia hispida; Addendum to the Molokai Plant Cluster Recovery Plan
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of document availability for review and public comment.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of our draft recovery plan for Phyllostegia hispida under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). This draft plan is an
addendum to the recovery plan for the Molokai Plant Cluster published in September of 1996. This plant species is endemic to the island of Molokai, Hawaii. We request review and comment on our plan from local, State, and Federal agencies and the public. We will also accept any new information on the species’ status throughout its range.

***

76 Fed. Reg. 31906 (Thursday, June 2, 2011) / Proposed Rules
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17 / Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2011–0030; 92220–1113–0000–C6 / RIN 1018–AW02
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revising the Special Rule for the Utah Prairie Dog
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service,Interior.
ACTION: Proposed rule.
SUMMARY: Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), we (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service/USFWS)) are proposing to revise our special regulations for the conservation of the Utah prairie dog. We are proposing to revise the existing limits on take, and we also propose a new incidental take exemption for otherwise legal activities associated with standard agricultural practices. All other provisions of the special rule not relating to these amendments would remain unchanged. We seek comment from the public and other agencies, and welcome suggestions regarding the scope and implementation of the special rule. After the closing of the comment period, a draft environmental assessment will be prepared on our proposed actions.

BlackTailedPrairieDog.jpg
Overall, agricultural lands can provide valuable habitats for Utah prairie dogs. However, if the prairie dog populations become too dense, these same areas may be more prone to outbreaks of plague, a nonnative disease that occurs across the entire range of the Utah prairie dog and can extirpate entire colonies. The rate of the spread of plague is likely dependent in part on the density of the host (e.g., Utah prairie dog) population —populations with higher densities likely have higher plague transmission rates and higher rates of epizootic (rapidly spreading dieoff cycle) outbreaks. Thus, we conclude that, if left  unmanaged, the unnaturally high densities of Utah prairie dogs on some agricultural lands increase their susceptibility to plague outbreaks.  However, a new pague vaccine put in the food of Black-tailed prairie dogs shows significant promise in the laboratory. See photo and info from USGS.

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Keith Who?

Keith W. Rizzardi, a Florida lawyer, is board certified in State & Federal Administrative Practice. A law professor at St. Thomas University near Miami and Special Counsel at Jones Foster Johnston & Stubbs in West Palm Beach, he previously represented the U.S. Department of Justice and the South Florida Water Management District. A two-time Chair of The Florida Bar Government Lawyer Section, he currently serves as Chair of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee

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Disclaimer

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16 U.S.C. §1531 et. seq.

"The Congress finds and declares that -

(1) various species of fish, wildlife, and plants in the United States have been rendered extinct as a consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation;

(2) other species of fish, wildlife, and plants have been so depleted in numbers that they are in danger of or threatened with extinction;

(3) these species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people."

16 U.S.C. §1531(a)

The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is "to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved."

16 U.S.C. §1531(b)

Reasons for the ESA

1. ECOLOGICAL: Species have a role in the web of life. Who knows which missing link causes the collapse?

2. ECONOMICAL: Species have actual, inherent, and potential value -- some as food, others as tourist attractions. As Congress said, these species have "aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation." 16 U.S.C. §1531(a).

3. MEDICAL: Although perhaps a subset of economics, medical reasons for the ESA deserve special note, because today's listed species could be tomorrow's cure for cancer.

4. MORAL: With each extinction, we take something from others. We must prevent "the tragedy of the commons."

5. THEOLOGICAL: Even the Bible instructed Noah to save God's creatures, male and female, two by two.

Reasons for ESA Reform

1. ECOSYSTEM (MIS)MANAGEMENT. The ESA encourages selective review of individual species needs, even though nature pits species needs against one another. Furthermore, the ESA's single-species focus detracts from efforts to achieve environmental restoration and ecosystem management.

2. SCIENTIFIC UNCERTAINTY: While the ESA requires consideration of the "best available science," sometimes the best is not enough, forcing decisions under great uncertainty. The ESA, however, is generally proscriptive, regulatory, and absolute; as a result, it insufficiently allows for adaptive management.

3. LITIGATION: ESA implementation is at the mercy of the attorneys. Cases involving one listed species can serve as a proxy for hidden agendas, especially land use disputes, and regardless of actual species needs, litigation and judicial orders set agency priorities. In the end, realistic solutions disappear amidst court-filings, fundraising, and rhetoric.

4. PRIVATE LANDS: Up to 80% of ESA-listed species habitat is on privately owned lands. While the ESA can place reasonable restrictions on private property rights, there are limits. But the best alternatives have limits too, such as Federal land acquisition and the highly controversial "God Squad" exemptions.

5. FUNDING: Protecting species is expensive, but resources appropriated by Congress are limited. An overburdened handful of federal agency biologists cannot keep pace with the ESA's procedural burdens, nor court-ordered deadlines (see #3 above). Provisions requiring agencies to pay attorney's fees to victorious litigators -- who challenge the hastily written documents prepared by overworked bureaucrats -- simply exacerbate the problem.

"Every species is part of an ecosystem, an expert specialist of its kind, tested relentlessly as it spreads its influence through the food web. To remove it is to entrain changes in other species, raising the populations of some, reducing or even extinguishing others, risking a downward spiral of the larger assemblage." An insect with no apparent commercial value may be the favorite meal of a spider whose venom will soon emerge as a powerful and profitable anesthetic agent. That spider may in turn be the dietary staple of a brightly colored bird that people, who are notoriously biased against creepy crawlers and in favor of winsome winged wonders, will travel to see as tourists. Faced with the prospect that the loss of any one species could trigger the decline of an entire ecosystem, destroying a trove of natural and commercial treasures, it was rational for Congress to choose to protect them all. -- Alabama-Tombigbee Rivers Coalition v. Kempthorne, 477 F.3d 1250, 1274-75 (11th Cir.2007), cert. denied, 128 S.Ct. 8775 (2008), quoting Edward O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life 308 (1992).

"This case presents a critical conflict between dual legislative purposes, providing water service for agricultural, domestic, and industrial use, versus enhancing environmental protection for fish species whose habitat is maintained in rivers, estuaries, canals, and other waterways that comprise the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… This case involves both harm to threatened species and to humans and their environment. Congress has not nor does TVA v. Hill elevate species protection over the health and safety of humans... No party has suggested that humans and their environment are less deserving of protection than the species. Until Defendant Agencies have complied with the law, some injunctive relief pending NEPA compliance may be appropriate, so long as it will not further jeopardize the species or their habitat." -- The Consolidated Delta Smelt Cases, 2010 WL 2195960 (E.D.Cal., May 27, 2010)(Judge Wanger)(addressing the need for further consideration of the human consequences of ESA compliance).

Notable quotables

"A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society." – Thomas Jefferson (1792)

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"The destruction of the wild pigeon and the Carolina parakeet has meant a loss as sad as if the Catskills or Palisades were taken away. When I hear of the destruction of a species, I feel as if all the works of some great writer had perished."

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"Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful means, the generations that come after us." – Theodore Roosevelt (Aug. 31, 1910)

Noah's orders

GENESIS, Chapter 6: [v 20] "Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive. [v 21] Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them."

GENESIS, Chapter 9: [v12] "And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations"

"The power of God is present at all places, even in the tiniest leaf … God is currently and personally present in the wilderness, in the garden, and in the field." – MARTIN LUTHER