By Xavier Tafoya
Near beautiful rivers, close to the mountains and the sea, we have the luxury of living in one of the most beautiful areas in the world. I am pleased to live among so many residents in Yolo County who respect the environment.
In many of our communities, some of us can leave our vehicles at home and we can walk and bike to work and school. It’s fair to say, we love our land, conserve and teach our youth about the benefits of reuse and recycling. Having seen many trends come and go, our care for the environment is one that most would agree is here to stay.
We have many organizations that have taken the lead to help save our rivers, our wildlife, our woodlands and those resources that cannot protect themselves. This makes sense and should be applauded.
However, there is another trend among leading environmental groups that may be putting all this in jeopardy. This trend shows an abuse in the process of how we handle petitions served to various state and federal agencies to protect endangered species by adding them to the Endangered Species List.
When this was first made into law in 1973 it was a fantastic idea. But as time has moved on from those early days, it seems priorities have changed for some. We must wonder if these petitions have been filed for reasons other than to protect a species. Unfortunately, if you look closely at these petitions, they lead to out-of-court settlements.
So much so that we should ask as responsible citizens, who is doing the suing? To name a couple, Western Water Sheds Project filed 91 cases between 2000 and 2009, and during the same time period, the Center for Biological Diversity filed 409 petitions. One name that continually pops up in Internet searches regarding Endangered Species Act petitions is Tierra Curry.
I would like to ask her and others on the payroll of the Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations exactly how many lawyers do you have on your staff? How much money have you received in settlements? Do these settlements really benefit the ecosystem? We need to ask ourselves if these petitions are filed out of genuine concern for the species or merely designed to generate money for the petitioners.
Aren’t they taking money away from those agencies that are supposed to protect our land and waterways? And do we risk losing support from the public if they discern we are merely in it for the money?
We are living in a heavily industrialized world. We need to protect our water and the quality of our air. We also need to protect the wildlife around us. If these petitions are leading to suing and settling, it is not wrong to ask if they really are helping our environment or just lining the pockets of the few.
It’s time to be honest and make sure we are really being good stewards of this beautiful world. Actions should be as respectable as our intentions. Let’s make sure we leave the world a better place for future generations.
— Xavier Tafoya is a longtime Woodland resident.