Re: NANFA-- Bush puts hold on "dead zone" plan

Christopher Scharpf (
Sun, 04 Feb 2001 18:50:14 -0400

>The role of government in environmental/wildlife issues is to do what
>individuals, or small groups of individuals, can't do themselves.

Well said, Bruce.

> National Parks exist at the
>federal level because individuals couldn't possibly buy and protect areas
>the size of Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Everglades (Nature Conservancy
>areas are tiny in comparison). The same logic holds for dealing with
>continental-scale pollution; are you going to personally negotiate with
>every farm operation from New Orleans north to the Canadian border to stop
>excess nitrogen runoff in to the Mississippi/Missouri basin so there won't
>be a growing dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico?

The same can be said for diadromous species whose life histories involve several
states and multiple ecosystems. There's no way a single state, or a local
watershed group, or a Nature Conservancy, or a private landowner, can
singlehandedly affect the recovery of Pacific salmon, Atlantic salmon, Acipenser
sturgeon, American eel, etc. Yes, they can all play a part. In fact, it's
desperately necessary that they play a part. But they can't do it alone. In
these and other cases, there needs to be a management agency whose authority
reaches beyond state boundaries and parochial concerns. The extinction of so
many Pacific salmon stocks is not a Washington problem, or an Oregon problem, or
a California problem. It's a *federal* problem. (It's an international problem,
too, since Canada is involved.)

Protecting the endangered fishes of the Colorado River basin poses a similar
multi-state and multi-jurisdictional conservation challenge. With so many states
and monied interests involved in the damming and dewatering of the Colorado, the
problem is way too big for any municipal authority to handle. If protecting the
Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, humpback chub, and bonytail chub were
left to state governments, water conservancy districts, and power companies,
these fishes would be gone and forgotten.


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