Magazine December 17, 2018, Issue

Letters

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Gopher Frogs and Prairie Dogs

Regarding Shawn Regan’s article “Consider the Dusky Gopher Frog” (October 1): From its beginning, in 1973, the Endangered Species Act was founded on the mistaken idea that successful conservation is about promoting the survival of charismatic wild animals — often predators at the top of food chains. Notice that Representative Don Young is quoted as complaining that congressmen were originally told the law “was meant to save ‘leopards,’ not ‘mussels and snails and turtles.’”

Those charismatic species high in the food chain will not survive unless most of the other creatures and vegetation are thriving, from the bottom up (e.g., beetles and bees, termites and turtles, dusky gopher frogs and prairie dogs, grasses and sassafrases). In order to conserve healthy ecosystems, the focus must be on maintaining or reestablishing suitable habitats, not on the survival of one or a few specific species. The creatures, up and down the food chain and throughout the ecosystem, will do just fine if their habitat is in good shape. So, land use is necessarily the primary policy concern.

I suggest that the Endangered Species Act be rechristened the Natural Habitat and Species-Preservation Act.

And, by the way, Shawn Regan writes a good article.  We should hear more from him.

Steve Bartlett
Portland, Ore.

Shawn Regan responds: Habitat is indeed a crucial ingredient for species recovery. Most endangered species rely partly on private lands, which is why recovery efforts must find ways to reward landowners who provide habitat, not punish them with regulations. That’s where the case of the dusky gopher frog went wrong. By designating 1,500 acres of private property as critical habitat for the frog — a designation that comes along with burdensome permitting requirements and reduced property value — the feds made enemies of the very landowners most critical to recovering the species. Making matters worse, the frog hasn’t been seen there for 50 years and cannot inhabit the land without significant (and expensive) modifications.

 

Chairman Chuck

You properly afford Senators Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins praise for their role in confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court (the Week, October 29). You inexplicably omitted, however, expressions of admiration for the essential role of Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley.

He shepherded the Kavanaugh nomination through the committee and the Senate floor with grace, grit, and determination in the face of united Democratic opposition on the committee and disruptive acts by protesters. The Senate has already confirmed 84 judges during Trump’s first two years, including two Supreme Court justices and 29 circuit-court judges. The circuit-court figure is the most for the first two years of any presidency. All of this despite the Democrats’ routinely using Senate rules to slow down the confirmation process. Thirty-three more federal judges have been approved by the Judiciary Committee and await floor action — an extraordinary output.

Mark Disler
Rockville, Md.

The Editors respond: You are right, and very well said.

NR Editors includes members of the editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Lifestyle Section

Books, Arts & Manners

Books

Gun Country

David French reviews First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun, by David Harsanyi.

Sections

Letters

Letters

One reader praises Shawn Regan’s recent article, “Consider the Dusky Gopher Frog”; another praises Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Poetry

Poetry

Panpsychism (believed in by those who know what particle physics is but are uneasy with “Big Bang” as a search term) has its limits I suspect...

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The March for Life Is a March for Truth

Pro-lifers are marching today, as they do every year, to commemorate a great evil that was done in January 1973 and to express solidarity with its innocent victims. The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade eliminated legal protections for unborn children in all 50 states, and did so without any ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The March for Life Is a March for Truth

Pro-lifers are marching today, as they do every year, to commemorate a great evil that was done in January 1973 and to express solidarity with its innocent victims. The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade eliminated legal protections for unborn children in all 50 states, and did so without any ... Read More

A Nation of Barbers

It seems almost inevitable that long hair is unwelcome at Barbers Hill High School. There’s a touch of aptronymic poetry in Texas public-school dress-code disputes. When I was in school in the 1980s, at the height of the Satanism panic, the local school-district superintendent circulated a list of ... Read More

A Nation of Barbers

It seems almost inevitable that long hair is unwelcome at Barbers Hill High School. There’s a touch of aptronymic poetry in Texas public-school dress-code disputes. When I was in school in the 1980s, at the height of the Satanism panic, the local school-district superintendent circulated a list of ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Clarence Thomas Speaks

Those who know Justice Clarence Thomas say that any perception of him as dour or phlegmatic couldn't be more off-base. He's a charming, gracious, jovial man, full of bonhomie and easy with a laugh, or so I'm told by people who know him well. On summer breaks he likes to roam around the country in an RV and stay ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Clarence Thomas Speaks

Those who know Justice Clarence Thomas say that any perception of him as dour or phlegmatic couldn't be more off-base. He's a charming, gracious, jovial man, full of bonhomie and easy with a laugh, or so I'm told by people who know him well. On summer breaks he likes to roam around the country in an RV and stay ... Read More
U.S.

Nadler’s Folly

Jerry Nadler must have missed the day in law school where they teach you about persuasion. The House Democrat made a critical error early in the trial of President Trump. He didn’t just say that Republican senators, who voted to begin the proceedings without calling witnesses, were part of a cover-up. He said ... Read More
U.S.

Nadler’s Folly

Jerry Nadler must have missed the day in law school where they teach you about persuasion. The House Democrat made a critical error early in the trial of President Trump. He didn’t just say that Republican senators, who voted to begin the proceedings without calling witnesses, were part of a cover-up. He said ... Read More