Friends of Blackwater recently signed onto a letter drafted by the Center for Biological Diversity that opposes S. 4057, the Litigation Relief for Forest Management Projects Act. This bill would compromise species protected by the Endangered Species Act by exempting the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management from consulting with scientists when new research indicates that land management projects may harm endangered species in unexpected ways. This legislative waiver would undermine conservation efforts in public lands that so many organizations have been fighting for, including Friends of Blackwater, and could put species on the fast track to extinction.
Allowing federal agencies to forgo reviewing new scientific information when they move forward with management projects, including logging, burning, habitat modification, etc., represents very real dangers to the Endangered Species Act which has been so successful in the conservation and restoration of so many endangered and listed species.
As we face an accelerating and unprecedented wildlife extinction crisis, now more than ever we need Congress to uphold and strengthen our environmental laws and protect our nation’s most vulnerable animals and plants. The Endangered Species Act remains the best tool we have to save species from extinction, but sweeping new scientific information under the rug is the antithesis of sound land management. Despite the rhetoric, S. 4057 is neither or a reform or a “fix” of a court case, it is a cynical effort to dismantle the strongest conservation law ever passed by any nation on Earth just to pad the profits of special interests.
S. 4057 is a misguided “solution” to a nonexistent problem manufactured by the Forest Service to skirt the requirements of the law. If S. 4057 were to become law, our most endangered wildlife will suffer for decades to come.