Monday, February 24, 2020

Stop Science Secrecy Bills -- Protect Endangered Species

HB2749 endangered species conservation; confidential information (Griffin) and SB1666 endangered species conservation; confidential information (Gowan: Borrelli, Leach) make confidential any data collected about endangered species by a state or municipal agency or anyone acting on their behalf from a private property owner. That does not mean just names and addresses, which can already be kept confidential. The bills limit the disclosure of any data collected to the public and to other state and also federal agencies. This would include information that is part of a survey, other research, or as part of a conservation plan. If information is collected by the state for the public using public dollars regarding the public’s resources, then the public should have access to that information.

If this kind of information is kept confidential as it relates to a Habitat Conservation Plan, how would the public know if a conservation plan that is in place is working or not? How would we know it was being implemented properly?

How would the public know the effectiveness of certain management practices, including those that are part of a conservation plan, if the data are not available to them?

If these bills are enacted, they would also limit information available for decisions about listing of species and about critical habitat designation. How could the public be assured that the information was being used to appropriately inform decisions? How would we know if the data are accurately reflecting what is happening relative to a species or its habitat if we cannot see the data?

These bills would limit the public’s ability to fulfill our watchdog role relative to state agencies, including Arizona Game and Fish.

These bills are modeled after provisions in Texas, hardly a state that is known for its progressive wildlife management policies. See How Texas fights endangered species protections critter by critter.

From the article,
‘States can be valuable partners in managing endangered species, said Melinda Taylor, director of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law and Business at the University of Texas School of Law. “The problem in Texas, though, is the effort has been all about how to minimize the degree of protection species are afforded, to thwart the meaning of the act.”’

Please send a message to your state senator and two representatives asking them to oppose HB2749 and SB1666.

More information:

Ariz. bill would undercut endangered species protections

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