On September 24th, Brian Seasholes, Executive Director of the Southwestern Communities Coalition, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Waters, Oceans, and Wildlife.
Seasholes was called to testify regarding two bills under consideration: the Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish in Need of Conservation Act of 2019, the purpose of which is to roll back reforms to the Endangered Species Act made by the Trump Administration, and the Critically Endangered Animals Conservation Act of 2019, which concerns the conservation of critically endangered species in foreign countries.
Seasholes’ testimony focused on two facts that are crucial to successful endangered species conservation. First, “private landowners are the linchpin to endangered species conservation in America because they harbor the most species and habitat,” Seasholes said. Second, “scholarly surveys of landowners in 19 states reveal landowners prefer a voluntary, non-regulatory, incentive-based approach to endangered species conservation to the Endangered Species Act’s penalty-based approach.”
Seasholes comments echo the sentiment made by himself and others at the SWCC’s kickoff event, which was held on September 18, 2019 in Benson, Arizona in front of local residents, government officials, and members of the media.
“The Coalition was formed for this exact purpose,” the SWCC said in a statement. “We want to disprove the idea that private landowners and the government must always be at odds when it comes to wildlife and habitat protection.”
“78 percent of endangered species depend on private land for all or some of their habitat whereas only 50 percent of endangered species depend on federal land,” Seasholes said. “Congress must work with, not against, those private landowners to come up with the best solutions to protect endangered species.”