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Washington, D.C. – Wyoming residents and others, especially people who live in the West, have been forced to invest valuable man hours and personal property to ensure endangered plants, fish and animals are managed according to national priorities. U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced legislation today that would make the current system more equitable to those effected by the imposed federal priorities.

Enzi introduced his Endangered Species Funding Act today, which would amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to require the federal government to pay for all costs relating to the establishment of a state management plan, monitoring, consultation and administration, surveys, conservation agreements, land acquisitions, losses from predation, losses in value to real or personal property or any other cost imposed for mitigating management of a species covered by the ESA.

He delivered the following statement on the Senate floor this morning.

Enzi also spoke today with reporters about the bill. The interview can be accessed by visiting his web page at enzi.senate.gov, clicking on the "Press" icon on the left, then clicking on the link to sound clips at the top of the Press page.

Statement by U.S. Senator Mike Enzi
The reintroduction of the Endangered Species Funding Act
June 4, 2003

I send to the desk a bill titled the Endangered Species Funding Act.

There is no question the goals of the Endangered Species Act are noble. Wyoming residents understand the desire to maintain a healthy environment and to manage and protect wildlife. In fact, it is a business we have been in for generations. The fact that today's private lands are the primary habitat for a more abundant range of wildlife than can be found on federal public lands is a strong testament to Wyoming's residents' belief in protecting wildlife and their willingness to put those beliefs into action.

It was the State of Wyoming, not the federal government, that took action to find the all but extinct black-footed ferret. The state then used its own money to build a facility that was able to nurse the ferret back into existence. As a result of the state's unilateral efforts we now have several populations of black-footed ferrets spread across several states.

Unfortunately, the ESA has moved beyond its goals of recovery species and has become a tool to control development, to shut down small businesses, and to impose costs – in the form of unfunded mandates – on states, local governments and private individuals.

Then there are those other costs, the ones that can't be put into exact dollar figures, but which seem to drain the already limited resources of private land owners. Whether it is the grizzly bear, black-footed ferret, Canada lynx, Preble's meadow jumping mouse, gray wolf, whooping crane, bald eagle, western snowy plover, sage grouse, Wyoming toad, Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, Colorado butterfly plant, or a flower called the Ute Ladies' tresses, Wyoming residents have been forced to invest valuable man hours and personal property to ensure these plants, fish and animals are managed according to national priorities as set by non-resident federal agencies.

It is only fair that federal dollars be provided to pay for federal priorities.

Imagine, as a home owner, that an endangered species is discovered in your yard. What if you were then denied the use of your garden, back yard and driveway, couldn't mow or pull any weeds and were told, oh yes, you have to change jobs too. You'd be on the phone to your lawyer, your governor, your senator and the president. And all of them would say, "It's the law and you are not entitled to a dime of compensation." Now how would you feel about the Endangered Species Act?

Granted, a farm or ranch is larger than your garden or back yard, but it is often the sole source of support for some of our nation's hardworking families – and to have acres taken away and out of use without compensation would appear to violate the constitution! My bill merely provides for just compensation for this, a federal priority and mandate.

My bill would guarantee funding for implementing the ESA by requiring the federal government to pay for all the costs relating to the establishment of state management plans, monitoring, consultation and administration, surveys, conservation agreements, land acquisitions, losses from predation, losses in value to real or personal property or any other cost imposed for mitigating management of a species covered by the ESA.

When they see the real costs of these regulations and their impact on communities, the American public will, for the first time, realize what it costs to declare a species as endangered. It's one thing to dictate how someone else or another community spends its resources, and it's quite another to face those costs and lost opportunities yourself.

There should be no question in anyone's mind that the Endangered Species Act is an unfunded mandate. For far too many years states, local governments and individual property owners have borne the brunt of implementing the federal Endangered Species Act. They stagger beneath the momentous weight of having to pay for the mismanagement and policy decisions of federal bureaucracies.

One of the biggest problems with this statute is that the people forcing implementation have no real perspective on what it does or how it impacts states and local communities. It is very easy for them to sit back in their protected communities, surrounded by granite walls and pavement, and dictate to the West that our herds of cows and flocks of sheep are needed to feed the wolves they transplanted here, or that species preservation is more important than providing jobs for the community and putting food on the table. It's easy for them because they don't have to live with the results of their decisions. It doesn't cost them anything and they have nothing to lose. The only investment most Americans make in the Endangered Species Act is rhetoric.

I love Wyoming and the plants and animals that populate it. I would hate to see anything happen that would change the ability of Wyoming and individuals to continue managing its land with the kind of productivity that we now have.

The reality is, however, that the Endangered Species Act has become more of a hindrance than a help. Not one species has been recovered because of the rules and regulations imposed by this statute. What has had the biggest impact has been the people on the ground who are not allowed to make personal choices on how they manage their own property. If we continue to impose the costs and expenses on local landowners and communities there will come a day when they are no longer there to make the wise and well informed management decisions that will make a real difference in the future existence of our nation's endangered species.