Shine onApril 30th, 2005
Like any other state, Oklahoma has plenty of wildlife hampered by shrinking habitat. And of all the 247 Oklahoma Species of Greatest Conservation Need listed by the Wildlife Dept., from mountian lion to butterfly, one puny little fish is getting the bulk of attention.
Six months proved to be not enough time to figure out the economic impact of protecting a silvery, 2-inch long fish found along 1,200 miles of rivers in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.
…the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] service proposed designating 1,244 river miles, plus 300 feet of land measured out from each riverbank, as critical habitat for the shiner. The areas picked included parts of the Canadian River in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, and the Cimarron River in Kansas and Oklahoma.
You may have already heard about the Arkansas River Shiner. Since its disappearance from 80% of its range in twenty years, it has drawn attention to the degradation of local rivers blamed on low water flows and pollution. It was eventually listed as “threatened” back in 1998, and while there’s no argument on what needs to be done to restore the shiner, there is disagreement on how to do it, or if we even want to. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau is one such group.
Marla Peek, assistant director of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation, said the group was working on a watershed management plan that could spur the shiner’s growth without designation of a critical habitat in Oklahoma.
The farm bureau sued the service over concerns about what impact a habitat designation might have on land used for farming and ranching.
That is the reason for the seven year discussion so far.
I hope the Farm Bureau can come up with a good plan for everybody. But judging from their past of defending irresponsible farming and ranching methods, which end up degrading property owned by all Oklahomans, I have my doubts. And they seem to already have their hands full with another threatened commodity.