(CBS4) – Multiple species — including Colorado’s state fish — could be impacted by changes to the Endangered Species Act. The Trump administration plans to unveil the new rules in detail later this week. They will, among other things, allow the government to put an economic cost on saving a species and limit the consideration of climate change on a species survival.
“This is going to lean more on active and current science versus 30, 40 and 50-year old studies of should of, could of, would of’s,” said Zack Riley with the Colorado Farm Bureau, which supports the new rules.
Riley suggests the current act isn’t working for anyone — including the endangered, pointing to the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse as an example of what he calls a hands-off approach.
“All that was done were fencing enclosures were constructed to keep cows out. Well, that doesn’t attack elk or deer or anything that can get in under the fencing or anything else. All that did is keep cows off of water… I mean .3% of all species that have been listed on the federal Endangered Species Act have actually shown any real improvement.”
Hailey Hawkins with the Endangered Species Coalition agrees changes are needed, but she says the changes proposed by the Trump administration will make things worse.
“In the long run, if our species don’t receive full protections immediately, that’s going to create more backlog and more red tape down the road,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins is especially concerned that economics may be used to determine whether a species receives protection.
“Life is priceless. You can not put a price tag on a species. Extinction is forever. It’s something that will never ever go away and the price of that and the price to our heritage and our culture is too big to sacrifice,” she said.
There are numerous species of fish and wildlife in Colorado that have federal protection, including the Greenback Cutthroat Trout, Colorado’s state fish. While all of the species have state protections as well, Hawkins says the state lacks the resources to recover those species. The new rules also limit the consideration of climate change on a species survival by restricting potential impacts to the foreseeable future.
In addition to the Farm Bureau, the Cattlemen’s Association and Western Energy Alliance also support the changes, saying they will ease the regulatory burden and foster more collaboration with landowners, which will help endangered species.
Several wildlife groups and state attorneys general plan to sue the federal government over the new rules. So far, Colorado is not among them.
Gov. Jared Polis shared the following statement with CBS4 about the possible Endangered Species Act changes.
This rollback of the landmark Endangered Species Act is just awful. The Endangered Species Act is a huge success and has successfully brought so many species back from the brink of extinction like the bald eagle and grizzly bear. 34 of the more than 1,400 species protected under the Endangered Species Act call Colorado home and are a critical piece of the natural beauty of this state. When species become extinct it disrupts previously healthy ecosystems which could, in turn, ruin the outdoor experience for anglers, hunters and Colorado’s thriving outdoor industry and economy. Colorado’s ecological diversity is part of our strength.