Colorado agriculture groups comment on proposed plover listing

News
Jul 9, 2010
by WLJ

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently proposed listing the mountain plover as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Citing agriculture, oil and gas, and other alleged threats, a listing would severely affect agriculture activities in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. Parts of northeastern Utah, western Kansas, northeastern Arizona and northwestern Texas could also be affected. Colorado agriculture groups quickly responded to the proposed listing. The Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), Colorado Corn Growers Association and the Colorado Association of Wheat Growers all opposed the action. Comments from several groups are listed below.

Alan Foutz, Colorado Farm Bureau, said, “Due to the reckless deal making of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the majority of Colorado agriculture is now in danger of being regulated under the Endangered Species Act. Colorado farmers and ranchers have made good faith efforts to work with the FWS and conservation groups to insure that the mountain plover is monitored and protected. The species is thriving in Colorado and the West and the proposed ruling is just one more slap in the face of the ag community, the original conservationists.

“We were at this exact same place almost 10 years ago and it is clear that the proposal to list the species is based entirely on pacifying environmental interests and is in no way predicated on sound science.

“The Colorado Farm Bureau opposes listing the species as threatened. As a result of its deal making, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is placing undue costs on the ag community and the American taxpayer.”

Terry Fankhauser, CCA, said, “The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association is once again disappointed in how the Endangered Species Act is executed in relation to species being considered for listing. The recent announcement that the Fish and Wildlife Service will consider, yet again, listing the mountain plover as threatened due to a court case settlement is indicative that species and those who are actually conducting conservation measures for the species are being punished. All the while, so called ‘conservation groups’ are collecting hefty settlement fees so they can file their next lawsuit.”

Colorado Corn Growers Association’s Mark Sponsler stated, “Regulation for the sake of being well-intentioned accomplishes nothing productive and places expensive landmines on an otherwise healthy and productive landscape. The Fish and Wildlife Service cannot hope to be viewed as a credible agency if it weights political agendas over facts and sound science.”

Colorado is the primary breeding and summer range for the mountain plover, but breeding also takes place in Wyoming and New Mexico, parts of northeastern Utah, western Kansas, northeastern Arizona and northwestern Texas. Comments on the proposed listing are due Aug. 30, 2010, and a final listing decision is expected by May 2011.—WLJ

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