(mailed out on Liberty Matters Letterhead)

March 21, 2005

Dear Friends and Members,

                Liberty Matters, American Land Foundation and Stewards of the Range have teamed up to fight the efforts now underway to reauthorize the Endangered Species Act. We are sending this letter to all of our combined members because this issue is so critical to the future of property rights.

                We need your help.

                Right now, there is a full court press on to reauthorize the Endangered Species Act, led by key Republican leaders. House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-California) and Representative Greg Walden (R-Oregon), along with Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water, have joined efforts to amend the ESA.

                This is not good news for landowners. You might think that Republicans would be working for you, trying to put strong property rights language in the reform bill. They are not.

                “The ESA desperately needs an update and a renewed focus on species recovery,” Chairman Pombo said in a recent press release. “Its one-percent recovery result over the past thirty years has failed to live up to the Act’s noble intent and our intrinsic values as Americans. As such, I am eager to continue the work that is being done between our chambers and optimistic that we can breathe new life into this law for the 21st century.”

                Representative Walden explained their goals further. “It is critical that we modernize and strengthen the 30-year-old ESA so that it can become a more effective tool for recovering threatened and endangered species.”

                They want to “modernize and strengthen” an Act whose most notable accomplishment has been to wipe out thousands of landowners and entire industries across this nation such as the loggers in the Northwest with the listing of the spotted owl, and the farmers in Klamath Basin because of a fish.

                At the very least these legislators should be protecting landowners under the ESA, but instead they are actively working to quiet the property rights issues.

                At the end of last year, Congressman Pombo and Senator Crapo publicly advised a meeting of resource groups that the mention of “property rights” should be replaced with “recovery and conservation.”

                It seems the mention of “property rights” could hamper their efforts to make small “fixes” to the Act.

                In a recent press conference held by the four legislators, only a few references were made indicating that landowners had concerns. Their solution was to emphasize public/private partnerships.

                They also talked about how they have been working closely with top environmental groups to help put together a bill that would recover species. They didn’t mention even one property rights group they are working with.

                Their starting point for a reform bill will most likely be that assembled by former Senator Dirk Kempthorn and the father of the current Senator Chaffee. I’m sure you remember the ESA battles in the past, and how this bill was critically viewed as a strengthening of the Act while being sold as friendly to landowners.

                Friends, they are getting organized now, at the beginning of this session, so they have enough time to get all the votes they need to pass a new ESA before the 109th Congress ends.

                Representative Pombo stated that the Kempthorn-Chafee bill didn’t pass before because they didn’t get together on it soon enough.

                We have news for them. The reason they didn’t pass that bill was because the grassroots saw through all the deals, all the politics, and fought for the rights of landowners.

                These Congressmen know this. Why else would they try to convince industry leaders that they should no longer mention the forbidden words “property rights.”

                And it gets worse. A lot of money is being pumped into a public relations campaign, an expected minimum of $3 million, to promoteapprovedverbiage to help pass the reform bill.

                Part of this funding is being used to convince resource users that we should all sing from the same page in order to pass a “recovery” bill.

                According to the experts, “property rights” are out. “Conservation” is in. “Reform” is out. “Recovery of species” is in. Evidently, these bad words give off a negative connotation, and are not received well by the public.

                So, if you believe their research, that means we shouldn’t fight for the fundamental principles that have made this nation the beacon of liberty and envy of the world.

                Wrong. The real fear is that more and more people everyday are seeing first hand that this law has unjustly hurt thousands of citizens while failing to save species.

                They have a “PR” problem, that’s for sure. If they can’t silence the landowners, they are not going to get the ESA reauthorized. They fear us precisely because the property rights movement has slowly but surely gained tremendous ground in the ESA debate.
• This law was up for reauthorization in 1993, and although we have stopped its renewal for the past 12 years, Congress continues to appropriate funding for the law, making it a thorn in their side.

• The courts are looking at whether this law is constitutional. A key case funded by the American Land Foundation, pending at the U.S. Supreme Court, GDF Reality vs. Gale Norton, could result in over 50% of the species now listed facing removal by a similar challenge.

• We have successfully stopped numerous reform bills in the past, including the Kempthorn-Chaffee bill these legislators are using as their starting point.

• The public is increasingly aware of the Act’s failures and its heavy handed treatment towards landowners. Of course they have to change the terminology. We are gaining ground.

                Now is not the time to fold our tent and go along with the experts. Now is the time to shout from the roof tops the many, many, many ways this law violates the fundamental rights of its citizens.

                If saving species is a worthy goal then there should be a right way to do this. Stealing American’s land and livelihoods is not the right way. The ESA should be thrown out of Congress on its very face.

                However, we have no illusions Congress will do the right thing. That is why we need your help to ensure whatever efforts are made to reauthorize the environmentalist’s sacred law, are stopped.

                We don’t have the millions of dollars our opposition has. We don’t have the environmentalist’s powerful lobby. We don’t have sitting Congressmen ready to help.

                We have something better. We have you.

                Enclosed is a letter we would like you to review, and if you agree, please sign and return to us. It is addressed to all four of the key Congressmen now working to amend the act.

                We want to be sure these legislators hear directly from landowners so they cannot hide behind groups they convinced to join their efforts. We want them to hear from you today, in the beginning of this process, so they know we are ready, willing, and able to defend our property rights.

                We are also asking for your help to fund this campaign. We don’t need the millions of dollars they have to win. We’ve won big fights on far less. What we need is whatever commitment you can make and your full support.

                If you can give $35, $50, $100, $500 today, it will help us send a message and these letters to Congress ensuring the voices of America’s landowners are heard.

                If you can only give $19, that would be a great help. Every dollar makes a difference in a campaign as critical as this one.

                As you know, we are in a long hard fight. But what the pro-ESA proponents have underestimated is the power of your voice. We will not be silenced, or allow our language to be re-written to “conform.” Private property rights will be heard.


Dan Byfield, President,
American Land Foundation
President, Liberty Matters

Margaret Byfield
Executive Director, Stewards of the Range
Vice President, Liberty Matters

Marty McElhaney
Editor, The McElhaney Report
Secretary, Liberty Matters

P.S. Make sure we have your email address so that we can send you updates on ESA legislation through Liberty Matters News Service.