Rachel’s Network President Fern Shepard sent these public comments today to oppose the the Trump Administration’s proposed rollbacks to the Endangered Species Act, one of our country’s most important and popular environmental laws. If you would like to leave a comment to the administration to express how important the ESA is to you and the places and wildlife you care about, click here. The comment period closes on September 24, 2018.


To whom it may concern,

I write to you on behalf of Rachel’s Network, a network nearly 100 philanthropists who support conservation projects. Our members are preserving habitat for species around the US and the world, from jaguars in Arizona and Queen Conch in the Caribbean, to grizzlies in the Tongass National Forest, and black-tailed prairie dogs in the Midwest.

We’ve seen firsthand the impacts that habitat encroachment, invasive species, and climate change have had on the work that we do. In Colorado, we’ve witnessed water scarcity and shrinking rivers threaten local fisheries. In Oregon, we learned that native oyster populations on the coast have collapsed from warming waters, forcing hatcheries to move their operations indoors. In Southern Florida, pollution, development, and sea level rise are stressing the region’s water supply, habitats, and tourism industry.

Wherever we travel or work, we see a country stressed by rapid environmental change. Given current trends, scientists expect that we could lose 10 percent of our terrestrial species by 2050. This is the worst possible moment to weaken the country’s most effective, and popular, conservation law.

Our members vehemently oppose the proposed changes to the ESA, which will put thousands of plants, animal and other species at risk. It will also threaten those natural systems that we rely on for our livelihoods – whether it’s clean water for our homes or coastal buffers against storms. Protecting habitat protects people too. In particular we oppose:

  • The proposed changes that reduce federal agencies need to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure that the activity does not jeopardize the existence of endangered or threatened species or destroy their critical habitat. These changes make it harder to protect habitat that is being impacted by climate change and development and will lead to more animals becoming extinct.
  • The proposed changes that remove the language that ensures listing decisions are made without considering economic impact. Were we to truly quantify the economic value of our natural systems, far more land would be protected today. Sadly, our economic system is not currently adept at internalizing these benefits, or the costs of losing species and habitats.

We urge you to deny these proposed changes and leave the Endangered Species Act untouched.

Rachel’s Network President Fern Shepard

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