Since enactment of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, over 1,200 species have
been protected nationally300 in California. Since then, efforts of environmentalists
have led to the recovery of frequently-seen local species such as the gray whale,
peregrine falcon and brown pelican, making America a world leader in conservation.
Early leaders in our country saw the value of wildlife to our emerging nation.
In the nineteenth century, national parks and special wildlife refuges were put
aside to conserve habitat and their species. America signed treaties with foreign
nations to protect migrating birds.
Its hard to believe this is the same country, when today special interests
control our Congress and the White House. As a result, the Bush administration
has weakened many environmental laws. Further, it intends to diminish the impact
of the entire structure of environmental protection that has carefully been constructed
over the years.
Developers are also flexing their power locally. As growth increases in our scenic
coastal communities, the threats to listed animals and plants is greater than
ever. Wetlands have been impacted the most. Our state has lost 95% of its wetlands.
Wetlands habitat in Central California sustains such species as the once common
California red-legged frog. Now, we have lost 70% of red-legged frog population
statewide making the local populations of great significance. While almost all
coastal drainages from the San Mateo County line to the city of Santa Cruz support
this species, human impacts cause a variety of threats. Projects such as development
plans for Luers Barn near Davenport, proposed channeling of the Pajaro River,
and construction of a high school by the sloughs of Watsonville could further
reduce red-legged frog habitat.
A recovery program has been developed for the red-legged frog. But the program
itself may need protection. Last year, the Navy planned to conduct bombing exercises
at Fort Hunter Liggett, in the area of an ongoing recovery program for the endangered
California Condor. Only a huge public outcry, and the intervention of Representative
Sam Farr, prevented this ecological outrage.
Sierra Club has been in the forefront of protection efforts for threatened and
endangered species of plants and animals. It has begun a series of projects to
increase awareness of the Clubs role in this effort. We can feel proud of
our leadership in protecting endangered species. And we urge your continued vigilance
in protecting the life with which we share our planet.