In his recent op-ed ("Why we didn’t list beardtongues as endangered plants," Aug. 15), Michael Thabault attempts to justify the decision by his employer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to withdraw its proposal to protect two rare flowers under the Endangered Species Act and to substitute it with a voluntary conservation agreement instead.
Under this proposal, the Graham’s and White River beardtongues, also known as penstemon, will be subject to the same "surface-disturbing activities" that threaten so many of Utah’s imperiled places, plants and animals. Energy extraction and other exploitative uses of beardtongue habitat will be "limited, but not prohibited."
There is no such thing as multiple use, only multiple ways to degrade wilderness-quality lands by extorting nature to satisfy a myriad of private and commercial interests. In trying to appease everyone, we always extract more from nature than we’re willing to give back, and in the end, nature always loses.
The Endangered Species Act specifically calls for listing decisions to be based on the best-available science, not on dirty energy speculation and political ambivalence.
Failure to protect the habitat of these gorgeous desert blooms cannot guarantee that they will still exist for future generations to enjoy.
David E. Jensen
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