The Stephens Kangaroo Rat is back in the news.
Long-time area Realtors® remember the furor caused by the Stephens Kangaroo Rat back in the early to mid 90’s. Back then rural construction, most notably in our budding Wine Country, nearly ground to a halt with the discovery of habitat potentially favored by this little critter. The fact that the same scrub Chaparral was also supposedly a favorite breeding ground for the Quino Checkerspot Butterfly and the California Coastal Gnatcatcher made it virtually impossible to obtain building permits until more reasonable minds prevailed. Farmers and developers had their land declared worthless and unusable overnight.
Construction of the largest new freshwater reservoir in Southern California (Diamond Valley) was held up for years because it was rumored a K Rat had once been sighted on one of the thousands of arid desert acres destined to provide water to the region. Lawsuits and environmental protests not only delayed the project but resulted in substantial cost increases and redesigns before it could proceed – and this was one government agency (Water Department) fighting another (Fish & Game). Individual landowners didn’t stand a chance.
Finally, after many lost escrows, lawsuits and threats thereof, Realtors®, builders and developers we were finally able to reach an accommodation with the county which made it easier for single family residents to build on their property. Basically if you had five acres you could footprint up to 1/2 acre or so (depending on habitat presence) but you had to leave the rest. In some cases it got to be a game where an owner would contact County Fire and complain about the parcel being a fire hazard. CFD would issue a nuisance clearance order, the owner would clear the parcel and when Fish & Wildlife bitched, they’d just innocently show them the CFD order. That was lots of fun.
In 1995 our local Farm Bureau petitioned US Fish & Wildlife stating that the agency had overstated the threat to the K Rat in the Endangered Species Act. Acting with unseemly haste, USF&W concluded in April of 2004 that the Bureau had made a good case for de-listing the wee beastie, or at least reducing the threat level and launched a 12 month review meant to produce a decision on the animals status.
5 years later still no decision. So today, 15 years after the original petition was filed, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation (representing the Farm Bureau) filed a suit in Riverside Federal Court asking the agency to ‘get off their ass’ (except in the paper the attorney said ‘dime’).
A representative for USF&W said she didn’t know why it had taken so long but that they ‘had a huge workload’. Hmmm. As I recall when the enviro’s petitioned to get this and other red herrings included in the ESA it took all of about 4 weeks to get it listed. 15 years and counting for them to respond to real science however.
At this rate we’ll have paid for ‘global warming’ and ‘cap & trade’ for at least a decade before somebody actually gets around to pointing out the fallacy of that. Ahhh, you gotta love the process, don’t ya?
Of course that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.