A NATIONAL POLICY TO
PROTECT PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS
National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition (NESARC) Meeting
American Farm Bureau Federation Headquarters
November 16, 2004
"We should not yank people's private property
rights to make people comply with regulations."
-Matthew McKeown, Deputy Solicitor, United States Department of
Addressing the Eighth Annual National Conference
on Private Property Rights,
Sponsored by the Property Rights Foundation of America,
Albany, N.Y., October 23, 2004
The Endangered Species Act is a failure, both as a means of establishing
endangered species at secure, stable populations that do not require
expensive, intrusive government intervention to be certain of
viability in the relatively foreseeable future, and as a statute
and regulatory structure that promote freedom, especially private
property rights and private property ownership, which are the
foundations of our constitutional government.
Over many years, numerous changes have been discussed that
would improve the legal climate to overcome these two charges
against the Endangered Species Act. Based on observations on the
intractable deficiencies of the current situation, the Property
Rights Foundation of America would like to offer a series of interrelated
proposals for improvement.
- The Endangered Species Act should not be re-authorized unless
full protection of private property rights is provided.
- Designations of endangered species (threatened, and rare,
etc., -read same meaning below at each reference to endangered
species) should be solely based on peer-reviewed science.
- Selection of habitat to protect endangered species should
be solely based on peer-reviewed science.
- All habitat on private and government-owned property that
has been designated for the protection of endangered species
should be inventoried, whether under federal or state laws.
- All habitat on private and government-owned should be evaluated
and classified, enabling the decision-making process to follow,
with selection of protected area based on quality of habitat,
after favoring government-owned land for designation.
- A peer-reviewed national plan for protected habitat required
to protect each endangered species should be promulgated, while
maximizing the overlap of protected habitat for differing species
in any geographic area, to minimize the geographic area to be
designated protected habitat. Government-owned land should be
favored for protected habitat, to minimize protected habitat
designated on private land.
- No new restrictions on private property should be imposed
until the national habitat protection plan is completed and mapped,
public hearings held, and the plan is officially promulgated.
- Restrictions of use of private property for protection of
habitat should be compensated in the same way that an easement
for any other occupation of private property is compensated such
as in the case of a utility easement. Term easements and leases
should be preferred over perpetual easements. The imposition
of government use of private property should be offered for negotiation
and compensation, followed, if necessary to settle the terms,
including price, by condemnation under federal eminent domain
- In addition, the federal government should implement a system
of voluntary reserves on private property, where property owners
receive annual lease payments for establishing protected habitat.
Where long-term leases are negotiated, these would be counted
in the national habitat protection plan's final inventory of
protected habitat and weighed against the need for protection
of habitat on a compulsory basis.
- Owners of all existing designated protected habitat on private
property that is not re-designated as a result of the national
habitat protection plan should be notified that they are relieved
of the regulatory burden of providing protected habitat.
- The National Endangered Species Act should be restructured
to supersede all state and local endangered species protections
on private property. This means that if protected habitat on
private property is not provided for in the national habitat
protection plan in a particular location and if the private property
owner is not fully compensated by the federal government or engaged
in a fully compensated federal or state voluntary habitat protection
program, the location will be entirely exempt from regulation
at any level for protection of endangered, threatened, or rare
Discussion Draft - Presented by
Carol W. LaGrasse, President
Property Rights Foundation of America
November 16, 2004
"No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property,
without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken
for public use without just compensation."
- Amendment V, United States Constitution
© 2004 Property Rights Foundation of America
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