Media coverage: Reporter Laura Hancock of the Casper Star-Tribune wrote a story on the announcement that featured insights from Gov. Mead. K2 Radio's Tom Morton also wrote a piece on the launch that explored the various issues and western frustrations with the ESA. Scott Streater also reported on the initiative for E&E News in a story.
Aug. 26, 2015: Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), announced his Chairman’s Initiative: the Western Governors’ Endangered Species Act Initiative.
“The Endangered Species Act (ESA) touches the people and economies of western states in a significant way,” Gov. Mead said at a special event at the Gray Reef Access Area outside of Casper, Wyo.
“This initiative is intended to take a hard look at the ESA – where has it been successful and where are changes needed. This effort will invite participation from a broad spectrum to come up with good information and useful recommendations.”
There are currently 1,568 species listed as threatened or endangered in the U.S. and another 653 around the world, for a total of 2,221. Since it was enacted in 1973, 2,280 species have been put under the protection of the ESA. Of those 2,280, 30 species were recovered and 19 were later delisted due to an error in the original data showing those species did not warrant protection.
The Chairman’s Initiative will include five forums hosted by governors in WGA member states. At these meetings experts will share best practices and case studies on species management. The information collected at the forums will be compiled into a report that will guide legislative, regulatory or legal actions to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the ESA.
Wyoming will host the first forum in early November.
Gov. Mead pointed out how the location of the event was an example of why a closer look at improving ESA is so critical to the wide range of habitat in the West and Wyoming.
"We chose this beautiful place on the North Platte today in part because it's home to sport fishing, but also because the water supports the habitat of a variety of wildlife, including the piping plover and whooping crane, as well as mule deer."
WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury joined Gov. Mead to discuss the role of the bipartisan association, which will help manage the ESA Initiative. WGA represents the Governors of 19 Western states and 3 U.S.-flag islands as an instrument of the Governors for bipartisan policy development, information exchange and collective action on issues of critical importance to the Western United States.