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E-M:/ Audubon Opposes ESA Waivers


Today, the National Audubon Society (NAS) urged Members of
Congress to oppose all riders that would waive the Endangered
Species Act for flood repairs and other flood control activities,
announced Daniel Beard, NAS Senior Vice President for Public

"The approval of these riders will set a dangerous precedent in
the course of endangered species protection." explained Beard.
"The proposed waivers severely debilitate the effectiveness of
the ESA, allowing potentially harmful activities to take place
without regulation.  While the severity of the floods and need
for repair and control is evident, it is equally as important to
find methods and means of reparation without further endangering
species already in need of protection."

NAS believes these waivers are unnecessary.  The President may
already waive the Endangered Species Act in federal disaster
areas for activities necessary to protect human life or prevent
the recurrence of a natural disaster as he did on February 19,
1997 for 42 California counties.  Under the current waiver, in
which the Act's consultation requirement is lifted, damaged
levees and dams may be restored to their pre-flood conditions
without prior consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (USFWS).

Notwithstanding the Administration's solution to this serious
situation, Congressman Vic Fazio (D-CA) has attached a broader
rider to the Flood Appropriations Bill.  This rider would waive
ESA requirements for a flood within a 1997 Presidentially-
declared disaster area anywhere in the United States.  Further,
maintenance activities on flood control facilities, not limited
to disaster areas, would also be exempt from the ESA until
December 31, 2000.

Congressmen Pombo (R-CA) and Herger (R-CA) also seek to attach
their bill, HR 478, to the Flood Appropriations Bill.  This bill
would exempt routine operation, maintenance, rehabilitation,
repair, or replacement of Federal or non-Federal flood control
projects, facilities, or structures from the ESA consultation

Citing these waivers as too broad and harmful, Audubon's central
concerns are:

*  Congressman Fazio's rider would apply to all flood control
facility maintenance, whether or not connected with a federal
disaster area.

*  HR 478 would exempt all routine maintenance, repair,
replacement, or operation of flood control facilities.

*  Both waivers also preclude USFWS from oversight of flood
facility maintenance and repair activities to ensure the stable
water flows required by nesting endangered Whooping Cranes and
Piping Plovers.

*  These waivers would harm species.  Both would allow
significant activities to go forward without consideration of
harm to the many listed species that depend upon aquatic,
wetlands, or riparian habitat;  these activities include
potentially harmful activities as river or harbor dredging,
clearcutting of riparian forest, and the regulation of reservoir
water levels.

The NAS Endangered Species Campaign advocated the stringent
enforcement of the Endangered Species Act as well as changes to
the ESA to improve protection of endangered and threatened
species.  The campaign depends on the strength of NAS's
grassroots, receiving direction and support from over 550, 000
members and more that 500 local chapters nationwide.

The mission of the National Audubon Society is to conserve and
restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife
for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.

John Bianchi        Communications Director 212/979-3026
Amanda Hirschberg   Publicity Coordinator   212/979-3027

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