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'Endangered' Listing for California Gnatcatcher

March 07, 1993

With a decision on the proposed endangered species listing of the California gnatcatcher just weeks away, it is distressing to read that Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, who ultimately must decide the issue, doesn't have any idea what is going on ("Crisis Over Rare Bird Avoidable--Babbitt," Feb. 17).

Babbitt told a House committee that the proposed listing of the gnatcatcher illustrates "the problems created by letting these listing decisions just drift without becoming proactive."

In fact, the gnatcatcher situation illustrates just the opposite.

Half a million acres have been enrolled in the Natural Communities Conservation Plan, which will protect not just the gnatcatcher but all the species of coastal sage scrub--even those not yet endangered. That's proactive. Throughout nearly all of Southern California, new developments are required to protect or replace gnatcatcher habitat. That's proactive.

Before allowing the gnatcatcher listing to be signed into law, Babbitt owes it to the people he represents to look at all the issues.

When he does, he will learn that the scientific basis for the listing is seriously flawed and that proactive planning has put more than enough protections in place, so a listing is not required.

LAER PEARCE

Executive director, Coalition for Habitat Conservation

Irvine

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