Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A landowner's take on the ESA

© 2009 Joshua Stark

A great post over at Rich Fletcher's blog on conservation, the Endangered Species Act, and the concept of "highest and best use", one of those driving forces that have, historically, pushed lands to develop into suburbs and the like. It's a good read, I highly recommend it.

What I really like about it is that it comes from a landowner. The pressures these folks must feel whenever they try to do real conservation on their land must be tremendous. Remember, conservation is the noun form of "to use sparingly", and that is the proper definition when it comes to folks who have land that they can put to various uses. Farming, especially for the landowner who doesn't have tens of thousands of acres, can be a frightening business, because you are on the bleeding edge of margins, smack between the Scylla of oligopoly and the Charybdis of oligopsony*.
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Mr. Fletcher's point is that laws like the Endangered Species Act help to re-define the highest and best use of a property. I'll second that, and say thanks for pointing it out.

*An oligopoly is a market with few producers, an oligopsony is a market with few buyers, and Scylla and Charybdis are the proverbial "rock and hard place" from Greek myth.

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