Well, let's step back from upscale bitching about the guvmint and start with
the reality on the ground in California. As a society we've hugely screwed
up California ecosystems, and only took about 160 years to do it.
Groundwater is overconsumed and contaminated, the human population is way
more than can be supported by water and air resources, and for our purposes
on this list the fish biota is hammered by huge habitat alterations and
nearly across-the-board introductions of invasive species too numerous to
So, what's the best approach to protecting what's left? A state agency is
charged after a political decision (kind of) is made to "do something", with
federal oversight for the same reasons. At both the state and federal levels
the responsible agencies are also underfunded and understaffed, the result
of another series of political decisions. So the agencies operate by what's
essentially a prohibitionist strategy, arguably overkill but it will
probably work-in-least in the short run to discourage take of the species
(plural) in question.
This is done by heavy-handed bureaucratic rules and enforcement. Those of us
who have some knowledge of these issues are rightly upset that we're
excluded from being able to help. But then, who is given the authority to
make these decisions about being able to help in situations like this?
Frankly I can't tell you.
What's the alternative? We can do the angry white man thing and blame "the
government" when the government (us) is doing what we've told (or limited)
it to do. Is it possible that loose local groups of people can take over and
save species in their natural habitats? I'd like to think so, but why would
anyone else pay attention to them and stop detrimental actions relative to
protecting vulnerable species?
Changing the actions and resources of existing agencies may seem equally
unlikely. When legislators like Rep. Pombo from California are writing and
passing measures "to improve" the Endangered Species Act in ways that make
the ESA even weaker than it is now for the benefit of developers and other
riffraff, those of us who have a different vision have a long row to hoe.
So yeah, I think Todd's encouragement of people to get involved doing
whatever they can do know, and learning to do more as their experience
grows, is the best starting point. Broader and more fundamental changes have
to come about too if many ecosystems and species are going to make it
through this century. Sounds overdramatic, but it ain't.
along the badly dammed Tennessee
Huntsville, AL, US of A
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