Author: Daniel Himebaugh
In honor of Earth Day this week, I think it's appropriate to highlight the story of Bob Slobe, a Sacramento-area conservationist who became a casualty of irrational environmentalism.
A few years ago, the Sacramento Business Journal reported that the presence of elderberry bushes on Slobe's property had stymied his plans to develop it into an office park. The land is covered with these bushes, which are a known habitat of the ESA-protected valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Unable to pay for the mitigation necessary to move forward, and unwilling to chance federal penalties for disturbing the bushes, Slobe shelved the project.
Slobe's vacant parcel began to attract transients, who set up camps on the property. According to the Business Journal, the property became a dumping ground for abandoned cars and bicycles, piles of stolen copper wire, and dangerous waste, such as syringes, condoms, and at least one used toilet bowl. Despite his best efforts to prevent it, Slobe's property became a public hazard for the sake of protecting the beetle.
Pacific Legal Foundation recently learned that the valley elderberry longhorn beetle doesn't even warrant ESA protection, according to the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. In 2006, the Service recommended removing the beetle from the list of threatened species after a status review, but the Service has not initiated the process to delist the beetle.
We should remember stories like Slobe's this Earth Day because policymakers (and the citizens who elect them) should become more concerned about the real, detrimental impacts that environmental regulations can have on people. Leaving people out of the environmental protection equation is not without its consequences.