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E-M:/ Endangered Species 30th Anniversary


Contact: Rick Kessler

Reps. Dingell & Dicks, TV Celebrity Corwin, Enviro Leaders, Hail Endangered Species Act 30th Anniversary

Act's Author, Noted Conservationist & Key Players Launch Campaign to Preserve the ESA

Washington, DC - Endangered Species Act author Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI) together with Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), Animal Planet star Jeff Corwin, former Nixon/Ford/Carter Council on Environmental Quality Scientific Advisor Lee Talbot and the leaders of national environmental groups gathered to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and pledged to fight to preserve the Act's integrity against rollbacks for another 30 years.

"Without this law, there might not be a single bald eagle or peregrine falcon in our skies. No manatees or cut-throat trout in our waters, and no gray wolves or grizzly bears in our forests.  This monumental legislation has, quite literally, saved our natural heritage while allowing the US economy to grow at record rates," Congressman Dingell declared.

Congressman Dicks, the senior Democrat on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, said, "From this vantage point, thirty years after its passage, the achievements and the limitations of the ESA are clearly visible.  What is also abundantly clear to those of us who were here when the Act was first passed is how far-sighted the original legislation was and how much better off we are today with its protections in place."

Jeff Corwin, host of Animal Planet's "The Jeff Corwin Experience" said: "The Endangered Species Act is one of the most important legislative acts in the history of our nation with regard to the conservation of natural resources, habitat and endangered species. Since its passage, the ESA has had a profoundly positive impact on a multitude of endangered species, pulling back many animals from the edge of extinction.  I'm so proud to be a part of the 30th anniversary celebrations."

Brock Evans, the Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition said: "The Endangered Species Act has been much more than just a magnificent law to protect America's most imperiled natural heritage.  It is a profoundly moral statement, uniquely American in its vision, its optimism, and its promise."

Gene Karpinski, the Executive Director of US PIRG stated: "Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, more than 1,800 species find safe haven, and many are on the road to recovery.  Unfortunately, many other species are beginning a downward spiral that can only be reversed with continued protections.  It is time to make a renewed commitment to conserve those species for future generations."

Added Dr. Rodger Schlicheisen, President of the Defenders of Wildlife: "The Endangered Species Act was a truly visionary response to the potentially catastrophic problem of species extinction and habitat loss."

John Kostyack, National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Conservation Program Senior Counsel said: "We should celebrate the ESA as one of the most moral laws ever passed, because it calls upon all of us to think about our future generations and what we owe them."

Earthjustice Senior Legislative Representative Susan Holmes added, "Not only is the ESA one of the nation's most visionary laws, but also one of its most effective."

Signed into law on December 28, 1973 by President Richard Nixon, the Endangered Species Act has served as a model for species and habitat protection throughout the world.  Rep. Dingell sponsored the legislation in the House where it passed by an overwhelming vote of 391-12.  The late Senator Harrison "Pete" Williams (D-NJ) sponsored the Senate version of the ESA, which passed without opposition, 92-0.  In the 30 years since the Endangered Species Act's enactment, more than two dozen species have been saved from the brink of extinction, including such national symbols as the Bald Eagle and the Gray Wolf.

The Endangered Species Act has served as a model throughout the world for conservation and species preservation.  The law also forbids the importation of endangered species from abroad.  This has served as the basis for recovery of such animals as the African elephant, the rhinoceros, the Bengal tiger, and the humpback whale. Recently, the Bush Administration announced that it would revisit this prohibition.  This comes on the heels of enactment of H.R. 1588, the Defense Authorization Act, which included language -championed by the Bush Administration-- rolling back protection standards for endangered species on Department of Defense-managed lands.

The legislators who were present signed a pledge to uphold the Endangered Species Act so it can continue to protect animals and plants that are threatened with extinction and habitat loss.

The event was highlighted by 5th grade students from Washington DC's Hyde Elementary who sang "The Star Spangled Banner" as Challenger, a trained American Bald Eagle, soared above.