By Kimberley Delfino
California is a great example for how to protect threatened species.
Forty years ago tomorrow — on December 28, 1973 — President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) into law. This landmark legislation has defined America’s commitment to wildlife conservation ever since. The ESA and other bedrock environmental laws such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts affirm for all Americans that we are a nation dedicated to conserving our natural heritage for future generations — through our national parks and refuges, through clean air and water, and by protecting our wildlife.
In the four decades since the ESA’s passage, more than 1,200 plants and animals in the United States have put been under the law’s protection. The act has been essential to a range of conservation success stories. The brown pelican, the American alligator, and the grizzly bear — along with our national symbol, the bald eagle — have all experienced amazing comebacks thanks to the ESA.
My home state, California, offers an inspiring example of the ESA in action. The Golden State may be the most populous in the nation — a place more often associated with freeways and traffic jams than with wildlife roaming the forests and deserts — but California is also the location of some of the ESA’s greatest successes. Some of the species that have been protected by the ESA call California home, including the El Segundo blue butterfly and the southern sea otter which are found only in California’s Central Coast and Southern regions, while the humpback whale, green sea turtle, peregrine falcon and bald eagle have ranges across California and its coastline.
Such success stories prove that we can protect imperiled species and improve California’s economy and infrastructure at the same time. And they also demonstrate that when we work together to protect our nation’s wildlife and public lands, we reap numerous benefits — tangible and intangible — in the process.
People travel from all across the United States and from around the world to visit California’s majestic parks and wildlife refuges — Yosemite, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge. Our state’s iconic plants and animals are legendary — towering redwoods, spawning salmon, California condors and desert tortoises.
In California, we’ve proven that we can safeguard endangered plants and animals while simultaneously offering benefits to landowners. More....