On 3/23/06, an article by Stephen Moore, a member of the Wall Street Journals Editorial board reads “Here in Colorado, the hottest political issue of the day may not be the War in Iraq or the out of control federal budget, but rather the plight of a tiny mouse. Back in 1998, a frisky eight-inch rodent known as Preble’s meadow jumping mouse gained protection under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. What has Coloradans hot under the collar is that some 32,000 acres of local government and privately owned land in the state and reaching into Wyoming was essentially quarantined from all development so as not to disrupt the mouse’s natural habitat. Even the Fish and Wildlife Service concedes that the cost to these landowners could exceed $183 million.” (The writer then refers to the debacle of the Northern spotted owl.)
Based on research, it turns out that the mouse is not endangered; it isn’t even a unique species. “The full species of the meadow jumping mouse, far from being rare, can be found over half the land area of North America” says Mr. Ramey who I quote below. “The federal government has effectively shut off tens of millions of dollars of economic development based on saving a species that we now know doesn’t even exist.” But green groups and Interior bureaucrats, who regard the ESA as a sacred pact-the modern day equivalent of Noah’s Ark, as former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt called it—pledge to fight any change in status. The man who is almost single-handedly responsible for exposing the truth about the meadow mouse is Roy Ramey, biologist and lifelong conservationist with extensive credentials, says “nothing prepared him for the viciousness of the attacks from the environmentalist lobby.”
Meanwhile the meadow mouse continues to impose huge costs on local communities. One water district was recently required to build two tunnels for the mice under a man made pond. The cost; over $1,000,000.00. The Fish and Wildlife Service also has the authority to assess penalties on property owners if they even inadvertently spoil mouse habitat. Owners can eve be fined if their cats chase and apprehend mice.
Many people have been so strong armed by federal bureaucrats that they have come to believe that the original and widely supported intent of the ESA has been subverted into a back-door means to slam the brakes on economic development. They believe it is a cost-free way for the government and the greens to impose land-use controls on property owners. House Resource Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (Pombo is up for reelection) has sensibly proposed reforms that allow landowners to get fair compensation from the government if their land is depressed in value due to a wetlands or endangered species designation. He says if society wants to preserve habitat for the common good, then costs should be borne by all taxpayers, not individual landowners. Problem is that many of the radical environmentalists are shills of “wealthenvironuts” who can afford more taxes, and are not property owners or pay very little property taxes.
The article concludes “If anything good can come out of the mouse fiasco in Colorado, it will be that it has awakened Congress to the reality that the ESA isn’t just failing property owners but the very irreplaceable species it was designed to protect.”
Ridiculous over protection of mice and owls, “historic decisions that are going to be nationally important”, are the aim of the extreme environmentalists.
Wake up Peoria and elected officials; our community is becoming part of this dangerous movement started over 33 years ago; a movement that appears to be accelerating and straying far from its original intent.