Jeff Fowle is a fourth generation family farmer and rancher from Etna, California. His latest blog post entitled “Endangered Species Act: Are We In Need Of Protection Now?” is a great summation of the impact public regulations have on private landowners. Protection for threatened and endangered species is important but, regulations often make it difficult to do the right thing.
Jeff is explicit in his position that regulations designed to protect certain species do not consider the impact on the rural economy and can lead to unintended consequences.
“Even though environmental impact studies are required prior to regulations and restrictions being imposed, socio-economic impacts are rarely addressed and beneficial uses are regularly weighted towards single species.”
Beneficial uses are management practices farmers, ranchers and landowners adopt to help protect an endangered species. He goes on to say.
“Failure to adequately address these impacts and assess all beneficial uses results in landowner hardship and often negative impacts on other species due to a lack of foresight and holistic approaches.”
He cites three examples of how listing the Northern Spotted Owl eliminated the logging industry in Northern California, listing Chinook and Coho salmon placed the blame on private landowners and currently the listing of the Delta smelt has shut water off to highly productive farms across the San Joquin Valley.
Jeff’s humility, like many farmers and ranchers, shines through with this quotation.
“Certainly, some past practices from the early 1900’s through the 1970’s were not exactly “environmentally friendly.” However, science and technology have changed practices and management styles to be beneficial to both resource managers and the environment. It is in the best interest of resource managers to ensure that the land is healthier and able to support future generations.”
Farmers and ranchers act as resource managers who steward their land to keep it viable for future generations. Often, their generations of experience and new science and technology give them the best insight to search for new practices.
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to build trust as many people in agriculture are using social media tools to connect with the public. Let’s say enough to misrepresentation, poor communication and duality and turn a new page toward compromise and common sense.