What Does The Endangered Species Act Mean To Me?
Care2 Earth Month: Back to Basics
This year, Care2 decided to expand Earth Day into Earth Month, since there is so much to explore when it comes to the environment. Every day in April, we’ll have a post about some of the most important topics for the environment, exploring and explaining the basics. It’s a great tool to help you get started with helping the environment — or help explain it to others. See the whole series here.
How Does The Endangered Species Act Work?
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is intended to protect and promote the recovery of animals and plants that are in danger of becoming extinct. Threats to a species from habitat destruction, pollution, over-harvesting, disease, predation, and other natural or man-made factors must be reviewed and evaluated before an animal or plant can be placed on the federal endangered or threatened species list.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service administer the ESA. However, all federal agencies must ensure that their actions will not jeopardize the existence of listed species or adversely modify designated critical habitat. For example, the EPA must ensure that use of pesticides it registers will not result in harm to listed species or their critical habitat.
When Was The First Endangered Species Act?
The idea for today’s ESA was born in 1966, with the Endangered Species Preservation Act, which authorized the Secretary of the Interior to list endangered domestic fish and wildlife and allowed the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to spend up to $15 million per year to buy habitats for listed species. In March, 1967 the first list of endangered species was issued under the act. It included 14 mammals, 36 birds, 6 reptiles and amphibians and 22 fish.
In 1969 came the Endangered Species Conservation Act, which amended the original law to provide additional protection to species in danger of “worldwide extinction” by prohibiting their importation and subsequent sale in the United States.
Finally, the Endangered Species Act was signed by President Nixon on December 28, 1973.
Approximately 1300 Endangered Or Threatened Species In The U.S. Today
The ESA lists both endangered and threatened species, both by state in the United States, and also across the globe. There are approximately 1300 endangered or threatened species in the United States today. These include both animals and plants. Endangered species are those plants and animals that have become so rare they are in danger of becoming extinct. Threatened species are plants and animals that are likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
These vary from state to state: for example, the Tiger Salamander, that cute little guy pictured above, is endangered in California, but not in other states.
How Does The Endangered Species Act Affect My Life?
Speaking of tiger salamanders, my son is currently employed under the California ESA. Our local power company, PGE, needs to refurbish some equipment in an area that is known to be good habitat for tiger salamanders. A team of wildlife biologists, including my son, is in the process of checking the area to determine if these creatures are present. If they find the salamanders, PGE will probably have to take their the entire project to a different location.
Another example: if you want to go climbing at Williamson Rock in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles, California, you will be stopped by this sign: “Do Not Enter – Endangered Species Habitat. The area behind this sign is closed to all public entry in order to protect the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog and its habitat.”
The Endangered Species Act is an extremely complicated piece of legislation; click here to find out more!