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While the industry is awash in cash, don't bother applying unless you've got an inside track.
RENO, NV, December 31, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- According to federal budget documents the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was one of the few federal agencies to receive an increase in their 2014 budget. Their 2014 budget is nearly $1.2 billion, an increase of $79 million over 2013 levels. Nearly $62 million of the budget is provided to states to manage critical habitat and $22 million is spent annually on designating new endangered species. Over $4 million is earmarked for native American projects including a recent grant for $199,731 with the obscure project name "Monitoring ecologically important species."
The USFWS director, Dan Ashe, described the increase in his budget submission as, "The service's budget reflects the tough choices all federal agencies must make as we seek to shrink federal spending while continuing to meet our critical commitments and fund high priority programs."
While the industry is awash in cash, don't bother applying unless you've got an inside track. The industry is made of up of university researchers, environmental groups and state and federal agencies supported by taxpayer dollars.
The endangered species industry is a self-perpetuating web of those who get paid to sue the government; the researchers who discover distinct sub-groups; the universities who receive millions to study the species and the states that are paid enormous amounts of money when species are found within their boundaries. There is tremendous incentive for everyone but landowners to find and list endangered species.
The recent proliferation of distinct sub-groups has resulted in an explosion of new endangered species. A distinct sub-group is established by the specific location where a species is found. For example, a species may breed throughout a watershed, but through the use of distinct sub-groups the species range can be subdivided into narrower and narrower ranges until you arrive at a small group of species adapted to a very narrow reach of the river. If you subdivide fine enough, you'll find an endangered species.
The Mountain Yellow Legged Frog
The recent listing of the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog in California provides an example of how the industry operates. The listing of the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog is the result of a 2011 settlement agreement between the environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Prior to the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) there was only one species of Mountain Yellow Legged Frog. After the passage of the ESA, there was a virtual explosion of the species, not in physical numbers, but in species sub-groups.
The species bloomed into the Foothill Yellow Legged Frog; the Southern Population Group of the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog; the Sierra Nevada Mountain Yellow Legged Frog and the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog.
Universities and frog researchers have been cashing in on this bonanza of new species. In just a six month period the University of California, Santa Barbara, received over $758,000 in taxpayer funds to study the frog. The rate to hire a frog researcher is $200 an hour. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics the hourly rate of a private sector worker is $10.33 an hour.
The Mountain Yellow Legged Frog is one of the largest land grabs in history. With over 2 million acres of critical habitat proposed it stands to block outdoor recreation, horseback riding, off-road vehicle use and virtually all forms of economic activity within its boundaries.
The Yellow Billed Cuckoo
Prior to 1993 there was only was species of Yellow Billed Cuckoo which inhabits the entire United States and is considered a common bird in the eastern half of the U.S. The bird was rarer in the western US primarily due to fewer rivers and streams.
Environmental groups petitioned to have the western range of the bird listed as a distinct sub-species, but there was one problem. The lead USFWS bird expert, Dr. Banks, couldn't tell the difference. He evaluated over 700 birds and determined there were no differences between the eastern and western birds. In 1992 the USFWS asked Dr. Banks to check his work, and he again concluded there weren't sufficient differences to warrant two separate species.
In 1993 the USFWS brought in two new experts who determined there were research errors in Bank's work, and in fact birds inhabiting the western half of the US were a distinct sub-group. This sub-species is now proposed as a threatened species with the potential to lock up critical habitat along every watershed in the west.
Salmon are common in the U.S. So common they are the third most heavily consumed seafood in the U.S., only behind shrimp and tuna. There are however, a surprisingly large number of sub-species of salmon classified as threatened or endangered. In California and Oregon alone, there are 16 species listed with sub-species names as specific as the Middle Columbia River Steelhead, or the Lower Columbia River Steelhead. These designations have resulted in the classification of virtually every river and stream within 100 miles of the coast being designated as critical habitat.
It's a lot of money
According to the USFWS there are over 1,150 species within the United States listed as threatened or endangered. For most of these species there is a researcher somewhere being paid to study it.
The USFWS spends nearly $85 million per year in designating and managing endangered species. These funds flow to environmental groups; universities; researchers; and state and federal agencies. They don't, however, reimburse private property owners for the loss in value of their land.
About the Western Mining Alliance
The Western Mining Alliance is the largest independent miner advocacy organization in the country. It supports the restoration of threatened and endangered species while balancing the needs of rural towns and people.
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