Governor Gordon Calls for Modernization of Federal Endangered Species Act

September 23, 2020

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Mark Gordon was in Washington DC today working with Wyoming Senator John Barrasso to update and modernize the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Governor pointed to some significant improvements in the Endangered Species Acts Amendments of 2020, which would elevate the role of state wildlife agencies in species management, allow impacted states the opportunity to help develop recovery plans, and delay judicial review of delisting rules during the post-delisting monitoring period.

Governor Gordon testified during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He expressed strong support for allowing states and tribes to continue and expand their work on conserving imperiled species. He also emphasized the damaging impact excessive litigation has had on those efforts.

“Private landowners, ranchers and farmers across our nation have made amazing contributions to wildlife conservation and should be recognized,” Governor Gordon told the committee. “In my state, farmers and ranchers have demonstrated their commitment to wildlife as the ultimate conservationists.

The largest barrier to returning the management of fully-recovered species to the states and tribes is litigation,” the Governor continued. “These suits, and the associated investment of money, time and energy, detract from species recovery and conservation and divert important resources away from species that truly need help.

During his testimony, the Governor outlined Wyoming’s leadership on efforts to protect several species, including the grizzly bear, gray wolves, black-footed ferrets and the greater sage-grouse. He noted that Wyoming’s state-led core area strategy to conserve greater sage-grouse populations was copied by other states, has been effective at preventing listing, and has allowed multiple-use activities to continue.

The Governor particularly noted the staggering costs of managing wildlife through litigation and stressed his belief that prohibiting judicial review during post-delisting monitoring will not be harmful to species conservation.

“The states have proven time and time again they are committed to and capable of managing wildlife within their borders," Governor Gordon said. "They should be given the chance to do so for delisted species without the threat of endless and costly lawsuits that in the end do not benefit the species in question.”

“Thank you, Governor. We are so grateful that you came to DC to visit today to share your thoughts, your experience, and your 41 years of commitment to this topic with all of the Senate and the members of the committee.” Senator Barrasso said.

A recording of the Governor’s testimony can be viewed here.