Policy Statements » Letters from the President:

Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 222
Arlington, VA 22203.

September 12, 2008

Dear Sir or Madam,

The Ecological Society of America, the nation’s premier society of professional ecologists, urges the Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider the August 15 proposal to revise portions of the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act protects more than 2,000 of the United States’ rarest plants and animals—these species are not only national treasures, but also biological resources, often integral to the ecosystems in which they exist.  Eliminating independent scientific input from part of the Act’s review process would leave many of these valuable and irreplaceable resources exposed to the risk of extinction. We rely on our nation’s diverse ecosystems for sustenance in every sense: they mitigate pollution, regulate climate, and provide us with countless resources.  In turn, these ecosystems rely on complex interactions between the species they contain. The most vulnerable of these species require consistent and thorough attention from the scientific community, attention that is presently provided under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The proposed revisions would counteract precisely what Section 7 aims to achieve, thus severely reducing the overall effectiveness of the Act.

The revisions would also produce a conflict of interest, erasing the distinction between scientific review and politics, and providing little incentive for agencies to assess their work as rigorously as unbiased reviewers. Furthermore, many agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, lack not only the incentive but also the expertise to evaluate the scientific ramifications of their projects.

Ecosystems are highly complex, and can therefore be unpredictable or counterintuitive to the casual observer— sometimes, even the most inconspicuous of organisms can serve as a keystones for an entire system. America is fortunate to have at its disposal countless qualified scientists, who, for more than 30 years, have helped us safeguard our many already endangered species against extinction. The Ecological Society of America is hopeful that we will continue to use this resource to its fullest extent.


Alison G. Power