Opinion | Colorado leaders in Washington, DC, must defend Endangered Species Act
Evangelical Environmental Network creation care champion
It was not too long ago that the lynx, a beautiful and majestic wildcat slightly larger than a bobcat, was extinct in Colorado. But thanks to the Endangered Species Act and efforts by the state, the lynx was brought back to life in Colorado. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has moved to delist the lynx or remove the protections of the Endangered Species Act. This is part of a broader effort whereby many of our beloved animals are threatened by reckless actions in Washington, D.C., as the Trump administration undermines the act. As a Christian and a citizen of this great state, I am deeply troubled by any efforts to harm God’s creation and weaken the Endangered Species Act.
In Genesis 1:26, we read that God put humans on earth to steward and “have dominion” over “the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every thing that moves on the ground.” It is evident that many of our elected officials are failing to live up to this important calling, and I am asking Colorado’s leaders in Washington to protect God’s creation, including at-risk animals and their homes. It is imperative that the Endangered Species Act is defended from regulatory changes and Congressional efforts to completely undermine the law.
The Endangered Species Act was a crucial, landmark conservation law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 92-0 in the U.S. Senate and 394-4 in the U.S. House of Representatives. In fact, it is the most critical and effective effort to protect wildlife from extinction. This act has prevented more than 99% of listed species from going extinct. Weakening the act would mean ignoring science and success and instead allowing for environmental degradation and extinction of wildlife around the country. The Endangered Species Act has helped to recover some of our most beloved and fascinating animals such as bald eagles, humpback whales, American alligators, Channel Island foxes, Tennessee purple coneflowers and more.
The Endangered Species Act is important for the entire United States, but it also is deeply meaningful for our beautiful state. Colorado is known for its impressive, majestic landscapes teeming with abundant wildlife. Thanks to conservation efforts, this array of beautiful, diverse animals includes the Canada lynx again. Over a decade ago, the lynx had a resurgence in the southernmost range of the Rocky Mountains after more than 25 years of absence. The lynx was believed to be completely gone from the centennial state and was listed as endangered in 1976, three years after the passage of the Endangered Species Act. The resurgence of this stunning creature was due to the provisions of the act and the preservation of suitable, unoccupied habitat. While this success story is encouraging, it also highlights the need for continued action. We have 34 listed species in Colorado — 17 animals and 17 plants that still need protection. The Endangered Species Act not only helps to restore endangered species but prevents new species from facing extinction.
The most pressing threat right now is the changes recently finalized by the Trump administration. The first alteration to the Endangered Species Act is allowing for economic considerations to determine which species are worthy of protection. This is an affront not only to the purposes of the act but to my faith as Christian called to care for God’s creation. The second change removes protections for threatened species. The Endangered Species Act was designed to prevent extinction and endangerment, yet removing protections for threatened species will lead to more extinctions. These changes strike at the very heart of the Endangered Species Act.
My message is simple: As a Christian, I urge our leaders in Washington to remember their home state and defend the Endangered Species Act from these reckless attacks.
Angela Kantola is a creation care champion at Evangelical Environmental Network. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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