You Get What You Pay ForOpinion
When the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, it was, overall, a Good Thing. It all started with the bald eagle, our national bird, which was going south because lousy people were shooting them. You have to be a real jerk to shoot a bald eagle but, unfortunately, some people are real jerks. Some claim the decline also had something to do with DDT being sprayed everywhere back then, which may also be true. There are even some who claim loss of habitat was a factor, although I can’t recall too many malls being built on mountaintops, where eagles tend to nest.
So the ESA was necessary at the time, and if applied using some common sense, it’s still a Good Thing. No one wants all the pandas to die out, for goodness sake. However, and this is a big however, the governing authority behind the ESA happens to be government. And we all know that ‘common sense government’ is an oxymoron of epic proportions. So the ESA has become an albatross, which causes more harm than good a lot of the time, such as when people are told they can’t do what they want on their own land just because some lizard no one ever sees might be inconvenienced. And that happens way too often.
Also, the spotted owl thing up in Oregon was a big joke. Those owls weren’t endangered. Besides, who needs a spotted owl? Owls without spots work just as good, even better sometimes. That whole thing just caused Port Orford Cedar arrow shafts to jump 250% in cost. And that’s a Bad Thing. That’s usually what happens when government gets involved in stuff.
So, when Larry and Amanda Anderson received a letter from the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife asking for permission to survey a creek on their land to track the nearly endangered ‘foothill yellow-legged frog,’ which has evidently declined in population recently, they were underwhelmed. Your average landowner needs government officials poking around his property like he needs a rattlesnake in his sock drawer. But instead of Just Saying No, the Andersons wrote a response that should be framed and hung in every home in America. To that end, I here reproduce the Andersons’ letter in its entirety:
'Dear Mr. Niemela,
Thank you for your inquiry regarding accessing our property to survey for the yellow-legged frog. We may be able to help you out with this matter.
We have divided our 2.26 acres into 75 equal survey units with a draw tag for each unit. Application fees are only $8.00 per unit after you purchase the ‘Frog Survey License’ ($120.00 resident/$180.00 non-resident). You will also need to obtain a ‘Frog Habitat’ parking permit ($10.00 per vehicle). You will also need an ‘Invasive Species’ stamp ($15.00 for the first vehicle and $5.00 for each additional vehicle). You will also want to register at the Check Station to have your vehicle inspected for non-native plant life prior to entering our property. There is also a Day Use fee of $5.00 per vehicle.
If you are successful in the Draw, you will be notified two weeks in advance so you can make necessary plans and purchase your ‘Creek Habitat’ stamp ($18.00 resident/$140.00 non-resident). Survey units open between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., but you cannot commence survey until 9 a.m. and must cease all survey activity by 1 p.m.
Survey Gear can only include a net with a 2” diameter made of 100% organic cotton netting with no longer than an 18” handle, non-weighted and no deeper than 6’ from net frame to bottom of net. Handles can only be made of BPA-free plastics or wooden handles. After 1 p.m., you can use a net with a 3” diameter if you purchase the ‘Frog Net Endorsement’ ($75.00 resident/$250.00 non-resident). Any frogs captured that are released will need to be released with an approved release device back into the environment unharmed.
As of June 1, we are offering draw tags for our ‘Premium Survey’ units and application is again only $8.00 per application. However, all fees can be waived if you can verify Native Indian Tribal rights and status.
You will also need to provide evidence of successful completion of ‘Frog Surveys and You’ comprehensive course on frog identification, safe handling practices, and self-defense strategies for frog attacks. This course is offered online through an accredited program for a nominal fee of $750.00.
Please let us know if we can be of assistance to you. Otherwise, we decline your access to our property but appreciate your inquiry.
Larry & Amanda Anderson'
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking someone made this letter up, just like you thought someone made up the letter from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality to a landowner, complaining that he was breaking the law by building dams on his property, when the dams in question were actually beaver dams. Well, Bubba, that letter was authentic.
And so is this one, as far as I can tell, which proves that government is working harder than ever. Mostly, it’s working at making mountains out of molehills, but at least it’s working.
Will Rogers used to tell people they should be thankful they weren’t getting all the government they were paying for. I think maybe we’re getting our money’s worth these days . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who appreciates a good yellow-legged frog. Or at least its legs. Write to him at [email protected].