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Dedicated to conservation and multiple use of public lands for recreation opportunities.
Edited by: John Stewart
Locoweed Closes 48,000 Acres of Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area
By Don Fife
Glamis, Imperial County, CA. A noxious weed, "Pierson's milkvetch" or Astralagus magdalenae variety peirsonii has been used to close 48,000 acres of America's premier OHV recreation at Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. Charles Cushman, Executive director of the American Land Rights Association (ALRA) said, "The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently announced that they will not contest a lawsuit by the Southwest Center for Biodiversity, and will accede to radical environmentalist demands to close 48,000 acres of the Imperial Sand Dunes (also referred to as the Algodones Sand Dunes) to off-road recreation. This is an outrageous abuse of power and of the Endangered Species Act (ESA); it is, in our opinion, a frivolous lawsuit." Cushman asks, "Are these out of court secret settlement agreements with federal government agencies designed to circumvent laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Administrative Procedures Act (APA) that require full public participation and scrutiny?"
"The ESA was a well-intended law meant to protect whales, grizzly bears, bald eagles, and other large vertebrates from extinction. However, in the 1970's, the radical environmental staff in subcommittee stripped the proposed act of safeguards for private property owners. Invertebrates - snails, flies, worms, insects, weeds, and virtually every living thing including their separate artificial subdivisions (subspecies) - were given protection under the ESA," said Don Fife, a geologist and former eight year appointee/advisor to four Secretaries of Interior on the California Desert Conservation Multiple Use Advisory Board for the 25 million acre California Desert Conservation Area.
Fife, a paleontologist/geologist, states, "Species is defined as a fundamental classification of related organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. Subspecies and varieties are subjective subdivisions of species, based on size, color, diet, behavior, or other characteristics".
Edward O. Wilson, a renowned Harvard University entomologist, is quoted in the January 1992 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Playing God...Why We Shouldn't Try to Save Every Endangered Species, "There are only a few thousand types of mammals and birds that people like to anthropomorphize (attribute human values and/or feelings to), but there may be something on the order of 100 million species, of which only about 1.4 million have been named (identified)." *
According to Fife, 'Pierson's Milkvetch' is really a cute name for Pierson's locoweed, a poisonous noxious weed, Astragalus magdalenae var. piersonii. Locoweed causes delusions, blindness, birth defects, and even death in mammals - including humans. It is normally against state law and county ordinances to propagate these species on one's property. It appears to be the same locoweed that farmers, ranchers, and federal and state agricultural agencies have been trying to eradicate for the last century. Now that it's on the ESA list, it is a federal felony to pull it out. The consequences for taking one plant are as much as $100,000 fine and 5 years in the federal penitentiary.
Dr. Loren Lutz, a director of the Society for the Care and Feeding of Wildlife (SCFWL), stated, "If ever there was a case history of ESA abuse that begs for reform of the ESA, this is it. A. magdalenae var. piersonii isn't even a subspecie; it is only a lesser subdivision which interbreeds with the entire gene pool. The definitions of subspecies and varieties are so arbitrary that were the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to define and list human subspecies, they could list French-speaking humans as separate from English-speaking humans and so forth. Similar abuse of the ESA by various government wildlife agencies is widespread. The citizen lawsuit provision of the ESA needs to be repealed."
Marie Brashear, another director of SCFWL, said, "The first order of business for the next Congress should be reform of the ESA. This should include the following 6 items: elimination of subspecies and varieties from the ESA, real peer-reviewed science (not best available information) for listing of species as endangered or protected, taking of private property only under Constitutional guidelines, immediate full compensation to private property owners for full or partial loss of the use of their property, recognition that we cannot 'save' every specie, and promotion of private stewardship for conservation of endangered species."
* The 100 million or so species Wilson refers to seem to exist solely as electrons in his computer; he has not been able to produce one physical specimen.