Sunday, November 28, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Endangered Species Act -- Long-Term View Of Ecosystems Needed

The Washington Roundtable's charge that the Endangered Species Act is failing its mission overlooks the Act's success for animals such as the bald eagle, Florida alligator, peregrine falcon and gray whale.

The greater concern is the Roundtable's wish to impose their economic priorities into determining "the authority to allocate scarce resources to save the highest priority species." Biologists will admit they don't totally understand the complexity of the interactions of plants and animals within ecosystems as new discoveries and information come to light. So how would a group of businessmen and their ill-defined "federal program managers" decide what the priority species are? Those lowly fungus and native slugs are more important to the health of a forest ecosystem than most people realize. This complexity and uncertainty speaks to a greater need for ecosystem protection as a better way to protect and save species.

Currently there are two bipartisan bills in Congress to improve the Endangered Species Act, H.R. 2043 and S. 921. This legislation will answer some of the concerns of the Roundtable. These bills seek protection of species before they are critically endangered, ensure quick development of recovery plans, offer incentives to private landowners for habitat protection and take an ecosystem approach to species protection.

A strong Endangered Species Act goes beyond short-term economic and political motives. We as citizens must take a longer view to protect the native plants and animals of our country in their natural habitats. Carlyn and Michael Roedell Seahurst

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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