Letters: Conservation laws need protection

The idea that states or other local entities have somehow been shut out of decisions about the designation of national monuments or endangered species (“Endangered species should face same Trump test as national monuments,” May 9) is just plain wrong.

The designation of national treasures like Bear’s Ears and Giant Sequoia National Monuments was only done after extensive consultation with states and other stakeholders. A majority of the American public, including Utahans, supported the designation of Bear’s Ears.

Likewise, protection of species under the Endangered Species Act only occurs after a lengthy process involving multiple rounds of public comment and extensive consultation with states and others. Again, large majorities of Americans support protection of at-risk wildlife.

This is not to say everyone is happy. Powerful special interests like the oil and gas industry see protections as a threat to short-term profits. They have the ear of Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration and are using their undue influence gained through massive campaign contributions to press their case. This is a travesty not just for future generations counting on us to save national treasures like Bear’s Ears and the sage grouse, but for our very democracy.

It also cannot be ignored that states had the first shot at managing our most vulnerable plants and animals and that species have only been protected after state management proved ineffective. I witnessed this firsthand many times when I was a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist overseeing endangered species recovery.

Even after plants and animals are protected as endangered, states and local governments continue to play an important role, as is the case with the Mazama pocket gopher and a whole suite of species imperiled by the loss of prairies in the Puget Sound region. It may not always be easy, but the Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. military, states and local governments are successfully cooperating to conserve many endangered species.

Since the Endangered Species Act was signed into law in 1973, it has saved 99 percent of the plants and animals under its protection from extinction and helped hundreds more, including the bald eagle and gray whale. Likewise, the Antiquities Act has saved some of the greatest places in our country. Both of these laws now need protection from the Trump administration and congressional Republicans.

Washington, D.C.


Saluting McCain on environment 

From Russell Quandt

I was uplifted to hear Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDon’t disrespect McCain by torpedoing his clean National Defense Authorization Act Meghan McCain rips Trump's 'gross' line about her dad Trump's America fights back MORE (R-Ariz.) voted to help protect America’s environment by rejecting the repeal of a critical methane recapture rule last week. The Bureau of Land Management rule would prevent refining operations from burning excess methane and releasing harmful greenhouse gas pollutants directly into our atmosphere and nearby communities.

McCain’s actions are of particular interest to me, as I am fellow veteran. I feel that working to serve our people can take many forms, and the protection of our environment is one of the most pressing issues we face today. It is great to see that influential military figures like McCain are willing to value and consider such pressing environmental concerns, such as limiting pollution from oil and gas production on public lands.

Many veterans seek to create a legacy of improving and safeguarding our country. With this recent decision, hopefully McCain’s actions can create a legacy that other veterans and Republicans can follow. A legacy that strives to secure and preserve our country’s environmental safety and serenity.

Tempe, Ariz.