President's Letter for August, 2019
As my term as President will expire on September 3 with MSFF's annual election meeting, this will be my last letter to the membership. I have enjoyed immensely the challenge of continuing the exemplary work of MSFF's prior presidents in enhancing the fly fishing experience for MSFF members. I hope all of you agree that MSFF's affairs are in as good or better order than they were when the Board appointed me Acting President. I ask that, as Vince Marascuilo succeeds to the position of President, all of you continue to support his efforts to the same or greater extent that you supported mine. I will continue to serve on the Board as Past President for the next year and I encourage all members to feel free to use me as a conduit to the Board for any suggestions you may have about how to make MSFF membership more valuable to you.
As I have made clear in earlier posts in the President's Letter and Conservation blogs, one of the goals of my presidency has been to make the members more fully aware of the environmental threats that will adversely affect our fishing and to motivate the members to become more actively involved in the fight against those threats. I will end my presidency with another effort to advance that goal.
As observed in a Washington Post editorial on August 16, the Endangered Species Act has been for some landowners seeking to develop their property a frustrating bureaucratic hurdle. But it exists to ensure that short-term economic considerations do not result in long-term and irreversible ecological damage. In May, a United Nations Report warned that more than one million plant and animal species globally face extinction, some within decades, because of human influence, climate change and other threats. On August 12, in the midst of this extinction crisis, the Trump administration announced that it is rewriting how the federal government will enforce the Endangered Species Act. Among the most worrisome aspects of the newly announced regulation is that it requires the government to conduct economic analysis as it determines whether to designate a species as threatened or endangered. As the Environmental Defense Fund's Holly Pearen observed in the Post editorial, the economic analysis requirement is akin to taking economic considerations into account when diagnosing a heart attack. While economic trade-offs might be relevant in formulating a plan to protect a species, they have no bearing in the analysis of whether a species is endangered.
Another worrisome aspect is the shift in the Interior Department's treatment of threatened species, the level just below endangered, that the regulation will bring about. No longer will a threatened species automatically be given the same protections endangered species receive, but instead the Interior Department will tailor plans for each threatened species. While such a shift might be considered reasonable when the Act is being administered by an administration that is philosophically committed to achieving the objectives of the Act, it clearly has the potential for abuse by an administration that regularly derides experts and ignores environmental facts and that almost universally subordinates environmental protection to economic interests.
A third worrisome aspect is that the regulation will make it more difficult for Interior Department experts to take climate change into account in determining whether to list species as threatened or how to preserve their habitat.
On August 21, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association, WildEarth Guardians, and the Humane Society of the United States challenging the Trump administration's rollback of the Endangered Species Act. I strongly urge all members to seriously consider supporting one or more of these organizations.
Looking forward to seeing you at the annual election meeting. In the meantime, "Tight Lines"!