Endangered Species and Timber Harvesting: The Case of Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers

By Zhang, Daowei | Economic Inquiry, January 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Endangered Species and Timber Harvesting: The Case of Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers


Zhang, Daowei, Economic Inquiry


I. INTRODUCTION

The issue of differentiating legitimate public regulation of private property from regulatory takings has become important and controversial in the United States. The Endangered Species Act (ESA), probably the most powerful environmental regulation ever enacted in the United States, is in the center of this controversy. The modern version of the ESA was enacted in 1973, and it has been amended several times since. The ESA is intended to protect species from becoming extinct. The ESA creates two main processes: the designation of species and their critical habitats through listing, and protection. Souder (1995) shows that listing is important because it triggers the four major provisions of the ESA, which are to conserve listed species, avoid jeopardizing them, avoid destruction of critical habitat, and avoid taking them.

Under the ESA, no person may take endangered or threatened species. In the ESA, "the term 'take' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct" (16 USC Section 1532 [19]). Furthermore, the U.S. Department of the Interior has defined the statutory term harm as "an act which actually kills or injures wildlife, including significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering" (50 CFR Section 17.3 [1995]). This regulatory definition has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court (Sweet Home v. Babbitt, II S.Ct. 714 [1995]), and it is the fulcrum on which the government levers regulation of private land. Because habitat modification may be a "take," Flick et al. (1996) indicate that the normal forestry activities of landowners fall within the purview of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on lands with endangered or threatened species.

U.S. Government Accounting Office (1995) shows that more than 80% of listed endangered species have some habitat on private lands that are mostly used for forestry or agricultural purposes. Furthermore, the list of endangered or threatened species is growing continually with no limit in sight. Because the ESA prescribes behavior and extracts use rights from the bundle purchased or inherited by private landowners, its potential reach over private land is very large yet uncertain. Few publicly provided incentive programs have been offered to private landowners for protection and enhancement of endangered species until very recently. (1)

Because of this "stick" approach to public policy regarding endangered species, the usual presumption is that, other things being equal, landowners will avoid management activities that might attract endangered species onto their lands and possibly develop their lands early. (2) This belief continues to produce advocates for protection of private property rights, not only from private landowner organizations but also from public agencies and some environmental groups. Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with the support of the Environmental Defense Fund, designed and implemented the Safe Harbor Program, No Surprise Policy, and No Take Regulation, as noted by Zhang (1999). These policies were in part designed to mitigate the existing incentives to manage against endangered species on private lands. On the other hand, individuals and groups who want to stop development, construction, or logging may latch onto the ESA as a tool to do so, with little or no concern in fact for listed species. "Not in my back yard" and other motives are served well by the strong ESA as currently formulated. As such, these individuals and groups who can be labeled as bootleggers are no doubt supportive of the current ESA. (3)

However, with the exception of Lueck and Michael (2003), there is little empirical evidence in support of the view that weakness in the current endangered species-related regulations impedes good management and stewardship of forest resources.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Endangered Species and Timber Harvesting: The Case of Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?