Keeping Our Promise to Preserve Endangered Wildlife for Future Generations
Ten years ago, my family saw firsthand the power of the Endangered Species Act in action. We were backpacking in the Grand Canyon and a California condor soared overhead. The sheer size of his wingspan was awe-inspiring. As we rounded the next bend, there sat the condor at the side of the trail, a marvel to behold.
The return of condors to the Grand Canyon is a testament to our nation's commitment to protect the heritage "we hold in trust to countless future generations of our fellow citizens," as President Nixon proclaimed when he signed the Endangered Species Act 40 years ago.
But the Endangered Species Act did not miraculously save imperiled species as a matter of course. In its wisdom, Congress included citizen suits in the law to make sure the law would be followed. Earthjustice lawsuits by the dozens on behalf of hundreds of clients have made the law's promise a reality.
That reality includes endangered species protections for grizzly bears, orca whales and Pacific salmon and steelhead to name just a few of the species we have brought into the law's protections. Putting the law to work for these species has meant fewer roads that bring people into conflict with grizzly bears and more space for the bears to roam.
It has meant:
- Putting Steller sea lion rookeries and monk seal nesting habitat off limits to industrial fishing and fewer endangered sea turtles drowned in longline fishing lures.
- Preserving Pacific Northwest old-growth forests for the owls, marbled murrelets and other wildlife that make their homes in old-growth.
- Stopping offshore drilling in America's Arctic, which could put polar bears and bowhead whales at risk.
- Keeping more water flowing in our great salmon rivers—the Columbia, Snake, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Klamath—where the water kept in the river this fall averted what could have been a calamitous fish kill as thousands of adult Chinook salmon returned to spawn.
- Removing dams on Oregon's wild and scenic Rogue River that blocked fish passage to prime habitat.
By enforcing the Endangered Species Act, Earthjustice is making sure this country is fulfilling its trust to future generations. We are acting on the wise words often attributed to Chief Seattle:
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors;
we borrow it from our children.