Conservation Efforts are Best handled Locally

Here’s a little-known fact about species proposed for federal protection: They are everywhere.

They are in every Texas county, all but two Texas rivers and are found above ground, underground and in the water and the air.

Susan Combs, the state comptroller, told me her team has totaled 129 so far, 12 of which are already federally protected. And while she’s confident there are at least that many, she admits the number changes everyday as another environmental group considers a lawsuit.

Nationwide, groups have petitioned to have 1,333 species federally protected since 2007, according to data collected by the comptroller’s office.

That’s why she’s developed an innovative method alongside landowners and businesses to work to fight off frivolous litigation and develop conservation plans to protect our natural heritage. If applied as promised, it could offer an alternative to the thousands of lawsuits that cost taxpayers and businesses millions of dollars every year.

More transparency is always better, but the basic outline of what Combs and these businesses are trying to do is a step in the right direction. There is little doubt that litigation brought under the Endangered Species Act presents a clear challenge to Texas businesses and the state's economic health due to the large number of species involved and the breadth of the habitat they encompass, stretching to almost every corner of the state.
July 1, 2014
Houston Chronicle