Our Voices Arkansas

The Voices of Grassroots Conservatives Across Arkansas

Apr 30, 2014

The Actual Cost of Critical Habitat Designations

Did you know — when the US Fish & Wildlife Service says they’ve done those required economic impact studies on Critical Habitat Designations (CHDs), what they mean is they’ve researched only the cost to the government agencies involved? What!?  You’d think “economic impact” would be economic results to the surrounding community, the monetary impact of...

by OurVoicesAR

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critical-habitatDid you know — when the US Fish & Wildlife Service says they’ve done those required economic impact studies on Critical Habitat Designations (CHDs), what they mean is they’ve researched only the cost to the government agencies involved?

What!?  You’d think “economic impact” would be economic results to the surrounding community, the monetary impact of a CHD on the local economy, or even the financial impact on surrounding agricultural interests like farms, right?

Not the way the Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) does it now.

So, remember Arkansas’ proposed CHD (the mucket and mussel) from last November? Forty-two percent of Arkansas land would be affected:

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposes to designate 42% of Arkansas’ geographical area as “critical habitat” for the Neosho mucket and Rabbitsfoot mussel.  And, this endangered species “critical habitat” designation could affect one-third of ALL private landowners in Arkansas!

To counter this announcement, about a month ago our U.S. House delegation introduced HR 4319 to require the USFWS to measure actual social and economic impacts on affected private and public landowners before issuing a CHD.

Congressman Rick Crawford (R) sponsored the Common Sense in Species Protection Act; cosponsors are Republican Congressmen Steve Womack, Tom Cotton, and Tim Griffin.  Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor (D) filed a companion bill (S 2084) in the Senate with Senator Mary Landrieu (D, Louisiana) as cosponsor.

Our Congressional delegation has concluded the only way to fight against the USFWS on this CHD is to try to limit the land area this ruling would affect by providing facts on adverse economic effects:

“The Common Sense in Species Protection Act will ensure that a true economic impact study on the people, businesses, and municipalities in the proposed area will take place before any private or public property is put in a Critical Habitat Designation,” said Crawford.  “The cumulative approach favored by the Fish and Wildlife Service lacks the common sense necessary to ensure there is no excessive overreach by the agency to the detriment of private and public land owners.”

Jeff Sykes of the Association of Arkansas Counties has been watching this issue for quite some time, working to try to limit the geographical scope of the USFWS designation; his organization urges an approach that would cut the affected area in Arkansas by about one-third. The approach was described in a formerly linked 2013 document “Comments on Critical Habitat DesignationFINAL.pdf (which has since been removed).

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