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E-M:/ East Coast gets dose of own medicine - Northern snakehead fish

This direct attack against the Great Lakes and East coast is the work of Western anti-environmentalist "James Watt" coalition left over from the Ronald Reagan days.  They voted strongly for GW Bush.

Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner and a bipartisan coalition of 13 Western states' commissioners have found an interesting way of giving people on the East Coast a taste of their own medicine.

Gardner's group has begun the process of having the northern snakehead fish placed on the list of endangered species. If successful, the designation of the non-native fish as endangered could tie up the Potomac River and other important bodies of water stretching from upstate New York to North Carolina -- 11 states in all.

The commissioners aren't as concerned with saving the northern snakehead -- nicknamed "Frankenfish" because of its ability to harm other fish and wildlife -- as they are with demonstrating how the Endangered Species Act has been morphed by environmental groups into a land-management tool.

As a result, large parcels of land, particularly in the West, have been tied up with prohibitions against development or important uses such as grazing. In some instances, property owners have been restricted from using their own land as they see fit.

The Endangered Species Act has a place in U.S. law. As stewards of the land, people have a responsibility to protect the land and the species that inhabit it. But too often extremist groups have used the act to prevent the use of what is supposed to be public land. They also have filed expensive lawsuits that hit taxpayers in the pocketbook.

The coalition isn't advocating the abolishment of the Endangered Species Act. The commissioners are, instead, advocating for a more realistic application of the law to allow people to peacefully coexist with species that are on the endangered list.

What the commissioners are asking is more than reasonable. Instead of allowing for emotion to get in the way of facts, they want better scientific study and peer review before a species is allowed to be placed on the list. That will preserve access to land while still allowing for endangered species to be protected, along with the land that comprises their habitat.

It's unlikely that the Frankenfish will receive protected status. It's an Asian fish that has been designated as an injurious species. It is prohibited from being allowed across state lines. In fact, officials in the Northeast have poisoned at least one pond in an effort to eradicate the fish.

But the commissioners deserve a pat on the back for finding a creative way to show groups along the East Coast -- albeit for probably a short time -- what those of us who live in the West deal with each day.