In response to the rapid and severe decline of the lesser prairie-chicken, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in March announced the final listing of the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, as well as a special rule under the ESA that will limit regulatory impacts on landowners and businesses from this listing. Under the law, a “threatened” listing means the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future; it is a step below “endangered” and allows for more flexibility in how the act’s protections are implemented.
The USFWS said it is taking into consideration the ongoing efforts of states and landowners to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken, adding this use of this special 4(d) rule will allow the five range states to continue to manage conservation efforts for the species and avoid further regulation of activities such as oil and gas development and utility line maintenance in the region.
This is, of course, the feds’ take on this.
Unless one lives under a rock in some far-flung pasture, they’ve undoubtedly heard that Kansas is one of the states included and that our lawmakers have come out vehemently against any such action. They call it an over reach of government power, one that threatens the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers and others.
While it is important to watch over our planet, take care of our resources and remember we share this land with other creatures, it is possible to go overboard.
Regulators have tried and continue to try to limit the dust kicked on dirt roads, the methane created by feedlots and the smoke generated from crop stubble burning. Sure, dust makes cars messy, cows can stink and smoke can sting one’s eyes.
But, these are all just a fact of life in a rural area.
For the most part, farmers are as good of stewards of the land as one will find anywhere. They have to be because their lives depend on that soil.
Regulations are good and they are important. It is also true that we have not always tended to the land and its other inhabitants like we should have. We have been guilty of exploitation, and self-regulation has not always worked.
However, we must learn to balance nature with our use of it.