Mead-lead effort on Endangered Species Act reform kicks off in Cody

This morning, Gov. Matt Mead kicked off the Western Governors' Association's first of many workshops regarding Species Conservation and the Endangered Species Act. Meetings will be held throughout the western states on the matter in the coming months, but today's is being held in Cody at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Mead, as Chairman of the WGA, chose this topic to be the association's initiative for the year. Calling the bi-partisan association pragmatic and effective, he said this is the group to spearhead ways to make the ESA more effective. Since the ESA began in the early 1970s, Mead said more than 2,200 species have been listed. In that same time 59 have been delisted, and only half of those were because of species recovery (1.3 percent). Other delistings include extinctions and the findings of mistakes in the original listing. "We need better than a 1 percent success rate," Mead said. He went on to talk about grizzlies and wolves. Grizzlies by most estimates have surpassed the recovery goal of 500 to a population of more than 700. Similarly, Mead spoke of the battle over gray wolves, noting that courts have ruled that the population has recovered. However, management is what keeps taking things back to court. "Lawsuits don't help species," he said. He pointed to the sage grouse as a success story and said the multi-agency, multi-industry approach is what helped the grouse thrive and not get listed as endangered. Mead said by next June he wants WGA to have solutions that he can take to a national level. The WGA workshop today includes panels on species conservation in conjunction with energy and mining, recreation, a panel of ESA influence on the public sector, and jumping right into possible improvements to the ESA. #reboot