There's an Endangered Species on My Land!

By Holmes, Bob | National Wildlife, June-July 1995 | Go to article overview

There's an Endangered Species on My Land!


Holmes, Bob, National Wildlife


As soon as Mary and Harry Presley saw the half-acre lot with its palmettos and pine near Malabar, Florida, they knew they wanted to build their dream house there. The couple closed on the property, hired a builder and sold their old home. But when the builder went to the county courthouse for a construction permit, the Presleys discovered they had a problem: Their subdivision was home to the Florida scrub jay, a threatened species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.

"We had heard that if you had scrub jays, you'd never be able to build," says Mary Presley. "We were pretty upset, because we'd invested our whole life's savings in this land." But this story ends happily for scrub jays and humans. The Presleys agreed to leave part of their lot in wild vegetation, plant additional oak trees and maintain a bird feeder. With the jays provided for, the Presleys got their building permit within two months. They moved into the new house in December.

All across America, as human activity nibbles away at what remains of natural habitats, thousands of property owners are finding themselves important custodians of the nation's rarest species of plants and animals. And like the Presleys, many fear that some tiny insect or flower protected by the Endangered Species Act could bring a stampede of bureaucrats telling them what they can and can't do on their own property. But except for a few notorious confrontations, this fear has proven exaggerated.

Private habitat is, however, often critical for rare wildlife. Only half of U.S. threatened and endangered species turn up on federal lands, including parks and refuges. Animals that do use public land often rely on private land for much of their habitat, especially in the East and Midwest, where federal lands are rare. Even the West's threatened grizzly bears rely on private land for much of their critical spring habitat. "It's obvious that for the survival and recovery of species, we will need private landowners to use their land in a way that's sensitive to wildlife," says John Kostyack, a National Wildlife Federation attorney.

But that almost never means heavy restrictions. Kostyack has investigated about two dozen purported horror stories of landowners driven to economic ruin by the Endangered Species Act. "What we're finding in a lot of these stories is that they take a little kernel of truth and exaggerate it out of proportion," he says, "while the Fish and Wildlife Service is actually bending over backward to accommodate people."

More extensive surveys support that conclusion. Under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) can veto any activity by other federal agencies that might affect endangered species on public or private land. For private landowners, such federal actions range from granting permits to fill wetlands to providing flood insurance. In a recent study, the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund found that over the six-year period from 1987 to 1992, the FWS evaluated 94,113 such actions. Of those, only 352 cases posed any threat to the species in question and just 91 - less than one in a thousand - were blocked, abandoned or had not been resolved as of late last year. Most of the blocked projects were not even on private land. They involved timber sales on public lands that would affect the northern spotted owl. A similar study by the General Accounting Office of the U.S. Congress came to much the same conclusion.

Of course, many actions that private landowners may wish to take - such as clearing brush or building a home - are not included in these tallies, because they never involve a federal agency. Still, the Endangered Species Act gives the FWS the power to step in and protect endangered animals in some cases. No one knows how often that happens, because no one has collected those data. But FWS officials in every major region in the country, contacted for this article, say the number of severe conflicts is small. …

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
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.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

There's an Endangered Species on My Land!
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

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.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

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.