To the editor:
Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon did something really smart: He signed the Endangered Species Act into law, and here in the Northeast, we’ve reaped the benefits.
The act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the species placed under its protection. In the Northeast we can thank the act for putting a long list of species on the road toward recovery, including the bald eagle, the Atlantic piping plover and a yellow flower called the Robbins’ cinquefoil.
By 1986, the Atlantic piping plover had been driven to the brink of extinction by ongoing habitat loss related to recreation, development and beach-stabilization projects. Thanks to protections from the Endangered Species Act, populations of this sparrow-sized bird in the Northeast have steadily grown. There are now nearly 2,000 stable nesting pairs from New England to the Southeast.
No other law has done more to save America’s most vulnerable plants and animals from extinction.
It gives me hope that we now have 40 years of evidence showing we can stop the extinction of plants and animals whenever we show the political will to protect them by using the Endangered Species Act.
Even though there are always some shortsighted politicians in Congress working to weaken the act, I think it’s pretty clear it has proven to be one of the most effective conservation laws ever passed. We need to celebrate the act and be vigilant to ensure it stays as strong as ever.