Members of Congress Join Conservation Community to Celebrate 40th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act
Washington, D.C. – More than 300 wildlife conservation advocates gathered Wednesday night to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, our nation’s law protecting fish, plants, and wildlife on the brink of extinction. Organizers of the event, A Wild Success: Forty years of the Endangered Species Act, honored former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and five Congressional wildlife conservation leaders for their work to pass, defend and strengthen the Act.
“The protection and preservation of wildlife is a stewardship responsibility that we owe to future generations to come,” said Clinton who was unable to attend but submitted a written statement. “That is why the Endangered Species Act is an enormous point of pride for our country. It has been a wild success.”
Members of Congress receiving awards included Representative John Dingell (MI-12), who was one of the original co-sponsors of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Senator Ben Cardin (MD), Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8), Rep. Jim Moran (VA-8), and Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5) also received awards for their work to uphold and strengthen the Act.
“For 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has been one of our nation’s most successful environmental statutes,” said Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. “I’m committed to ensuring that ESA continues to provide strong, effective protections for endangered and threatened species, and to seeing that the law remains science-driven with the necessary resources to effectively protect our nation’s critical animal and plant life.”
In December of 1973, the Endangered Species Act passed the House of Representatives 355-4 and 92-0 in the Senate. The Act was signed into law on December 28, 1973 by President Richard Nixon, who stated, “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed. It is a many-faceted treasure, of value to scholars, scientists, and nature lovers alike, and it forms a vital part of the heritage we all share as Americans.”
In the 40 years since, the Endangered Species Act has successfully prevented the extinction of hundreds of wildlife species, including the American Bald eagle, the Humpback whale and the Black-footed ferret.
“As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, let us remember that the strength and vitality of our environment, and thus our own health and well-being, are inextricably linked to the health and well-being of other species,” said Congressman John Dingell. “We cannot let those looking to undermine this progress do so. I remain committed to protecting our air, land, water and heritage for future generations, and it is a great honor to be recognized with this award here tonight.”
“For 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has served a critical service in the protection of some of our nation’s most wild and important animals,” said Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8). “I am proud to be a champion of legislation that protects our national treasures – from wildlife to wilderness.”
“For 40 years the Endangered Species Act has been ensuring the wildlife heritage we all share remains a healthy presence for future generations using science, not prejudice and fear, as its guide,” said Rep. Jim Moran (VA-8). “All over the US, ESA success stories are visible – from growing population levels to improved ecosystems – as we’ve focused on the critical role many of these species play in their habitats.”
“For 40 years, the ESA has preserved habitat and protected plants and animals from extinction,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05). “We have to continue this important work because the sad truth is that once we lose a species we will never get it back. That is why we must continue being good stewards of this earth so that our kids and grandkids can enjoy the same abundance of wildlife, plants, and fish that we enjoy today.”
“The Endangered Species Act is America’s safety net for imperiled fish, plants and wildlife,” said Jon Ellenbogen, board chair of the Endangered Species Coalition – the lead organizer of Wednesday’s celebration. “We must continue to honor our responsibility to future generations to protect threatened and endangered species and the special places they call home.”
“Nearly every single day, I receive calls or letters from constituents urging me to take action on conservation issues,” added Cardin. “Their passion, advocacy and dedication keep me going even when the obstacles to environmental progress seem insurmountable.”
Twenty-seven conservation organizations joined together to host Wednesday’s reception at the Library of Congress. More information on the ESA’s 40th anniversary and the species it protects can be found on the special 40th anniversary web pages of the Endangered Species Coalition and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.