Government’s crazy game of whack a mole
Good intentions. Horrible execution. Disastrous results. That pretty much sums up the federal government’s mismanagement of water supplies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to help Delta smelt and salmon species. Water diverted to help declining populations of fish listed under the Endangered Species Act has created severe collateral damage to the environment in the San Joaquin Valley.
Species like the California condor, the San Joaquin kit fox and the California tiger salamander, which benefit from irrigated farmland, and the thousands of miles of valuable habitat lining canals and irrigation ditches, have joined farmers, farm workers and other valley residents as victims of the Bureau of Reclamation’s war on the environment.
Federal officials have chosen winners and losers in who gets precious water supplies, and the loser list is growing — not just people, but iconic species like condors, kit foxes, fairy shrimp, California red-legged frogs, and Southwestern willow flycatchers — threatened and endangered species that the federal government is obligated by law to protect.
It’s like the game of whack a mole, the repetitious and futile task of bopping one problem only to see several more pop up. The fact that smelt populations continue to slide, even with the water officials are diverting for its benefit, is further proof government’s myopic approach is a dismal failure.
Today, we have launched a public education campaign, “Stop Starving Farms and Wildlife,” to highlight how federally decreed water reductions in the San Joaquin Valley are victimizing federally protected species. Read details in our news release and watch this short video. Listen to this Courting Liberty podcast discussion.
If you’re so inclined, we invite you to join our effort and receive campaign information and updates. Go to www.pacificlegal.org/esa.
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Otay Mesa Property, L.P. v. Department of the Interior
Three property owners in San Diego County own 57 acres that they planned to use for a new recycling center and landfill. When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the property as critical habitat for the endangered Riverside fairy shrimp, the development plans were stymied. The owners challenged the designation because there’s no evidence the fairy shrimp were on the property or that the property was essential to the species’ conservation. The Service also failed to consider the economic impacts and other adverse effects of the designation. PLF filed a brief in federal district court supporting the property owners’ motion for summary judgment. In August 2018, the court ruled against the property owners.Read more
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