NANFA-- How Much Is Biodiversity Really Worth?

Christopher Scharpf (
Thu, 11 May 2000 13:21:07 -0400

Forwarded from Pat Rakes of Conservation Fisheries...

This really shows how pitifully conservation is funded! Take action! Forward!


How Much Is Biodiversity Really Worth?
Message from Heather Weiner, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund
Endangered Species Coalition Chairperson

On average, less than 32 cents of what each of us pays to the IRS goes to
endangered species conservation in the U.S. -- less than the price of an
endangered species stamp. Each year we spend less than $300 million on
conservation for more than 1,100 endangered and threatened species. How
much is biodiversity really worth? According to U.S. News and World Report,
nature provides us with a staggering $33 trillion in services each year,

* Crop pollination from insects, bats, and birds
* Recreational fishing, wildlife and bird watching
* Commercial uses of wild fish and plants
* Animals and insects controlling crop pests
* Medicinal derivatives from rare plants and insects

The ESA program has been chronically -- and is currently -- grossly
underfunded. A 1990 Department of Interior Inspector General's report
emphasized this funding shortfall, noting "it is obvious that the Service's
[ESA] mission cannot be fully accomplished at present funding levels." Of
the more than 1,000 species listed as threatened or endangered in the U.S.,
less than 10 have been recovered. But who can blame the Endangered Species
Act for not reaching its goals when we never give it a fighting chance? On-
the-ground conservation programs -- such as reintroduction, habitat
acquisition, ecosystem restoration, and public education -- are being
starved to death.

There is broad public support for endangered species. Poll after poll shows
that the American public strongly supports protection for endangered
species and is willing to pay for it. For example, a recent study found
that randomly selected U.S. families would be willing to pay more than 30
times the cost federal experts currently calculate is necessary to save the
Mexican spotted owl. Another poll reported that 63% of Americans think more
federal funding should go to the environment.

A fully funded ESA is a more efficient ESA. For species, funding means
they will receive protection when they need it, rather than at the last
minute when chances of long-term survival are grim. For landowners, as well
as public land managers, full funding means that the agencies can respond
to their need for permit or consultation more quickly, thereby avoiding
costly and frustrating delays. With an efficient program that provides
protection to species as soon as possible, we will be able to catch species
early in their decline before recovery options have become limited and
recovery costs have skyrocketed.

Endangered species funding is needed for:
* scientific assessments of wildlife populations
* buying important habitat areas in threat of development
* review of mining, logging, grazing, and other harmful actions
* recovery planning and on-the-ground conservation programs
* stopping illegal trade of endangered animal parts

The President's budget for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered
species programs includes modest increases in most line items. The
Endangered Species Coalition believes that Endangered Species Act
implementation needs a substantial increase in funding, and fulfilling the
President's request is the first step. For certain program, such as
critical habitat, more than what the Administration requests is needed.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species:
Total Request $180 million

(In $ millions) 2001 Request 2000 Enacted
Candidate Conservation $8.45 $7.39
Listing $7.2 $6.2
Consultation $39.4 $32.34
Recovery $55.3 $57.36
Landowner Incentives $5.0 $5.0
Grants to States $65.0 $15.0

National Marine Fisheries Service Endangered Species:
(in $millions) 2001 Request 2000 Enacted
Recovery Plans $55.45 $43.2
Extinction Crisis $13.1 $13.85
(sea turtles, seals, whales)
This does not include the Coastal Salmon Initiative for CA, OR, WA, and AK
for $100 million.


1) Write a letter to Interior Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula (R-OH) and
Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY)


The Honorable ____________(full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515


Dear Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman:

On average, less than 32 cents of what I pay to the IRS goes to endangered
species conservation in the U.S. That is less than the price of a postage
stamp. Last year, a little more than $300 million was appropriated for all
endangered species programs. To put that in perspective, the Air Force
requests $160 million for one of its F-22s.

Fully funding President Clinton's Fiscal Year 2001 request of $180 million
for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and $68.5 million for the National
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) endangered species programs will result in
a more effective and efficient Endangered Species Act. Critical habitat is
funded under ESA Section 4 activities, which includes listing decisions.
For FY'01 the Department of Interior requested merely $7.2 million, far
below what it needs to deal with the hundreds more critical habitat
designations. Congress should provide an additional $7.0 million for
critical habitat designation.

Chairman, as the head of the House Appropriations Subcommittee with
jurisdiction over endangered species, you have a great opportunity to
assist our nation's wildlife by incorporating the Administration's request
for endangered species into your appropriations bills.

(group if you're part of one)
Address >>

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