On Nov. 13, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania made yet another very poor decision, this time in its Game and Fisheries Committee, voting House Bill 1576 — dubbed the Endangered Species Coordination Act — through to the House.
If you haven’t heard of it, that is quite understandable because legislators don’t generally shout their shameful decisions from the tops of mountains.
This bill creates a committee that would review all designations that have been made in the past to protect animal or plant species and any new attempts at such a designation.
It forbids any agency from designating any species threatened unless it is noted in the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (federal legislation). The committee may also remove species from Pennsylvania’s protection list as long as there is some surviving healthy population somewhere in its range.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The species also must be in danger in all or a significant portion of its entire range to be considered threatened.
If this were not enough, only locations already known would even be considered for review.
Thus, if an animal has a habitat that has not been determined and GIS mapped, it is not considered by this group to be a habitat worth protecting. This may be even more dangerous for plants because one must search for them to find them.
In this way, community actions are excluded.
You can find the bill at www.legis.state.pa.us under “Bill Information.” Find your legislator at www.house.state.pa.us.
Julianna Razryadov, Bellefonte
The writer is a doctoral candidate in plant sciences at Penn State.