Private Property Victory As Feds Wave White Flag In ESA Fight

 

by Chris Bennett, AgWeb

Sep 16, 2019

 

What the government gets, it keeps—almost. In a stunning end to a surreal landmark private property rights case that tested the bounds of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), federal officials capitulated and walked away from a critical habitat claim on 1,544 acres in Louisiana.

 

Edward Poitevent has emerged from an eight-year legal saga as the victor in a clash with federal regulators. After a jolting 8-0 Supreme Court decision dismantled the actions of Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) officials who labeled 1,544 privately held acres as critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog, FWS signed a consent decree on July 3, 2019, removing the critical habitat designation. Cutting through the legalese: FWS waved a white flag and Poitevent maintained full rights to his land.

 

Eight years of federal agency work and courthouse battles, and presumably millions of taxpayer dollars spent in pursuit of Poitevent’s acreage—in the name of an amphibian that does not live on the property or even exist in Louisiana, and could never survive in the current environment of the land in question.

 

“With courts today, politics wins over reason sometimes, and our case screamed out reason,” Poitevent says. “A frog extinct in my state for 50-plus years; a frog that can’t even live on the present habitat of my land; millions of dollars to start in restoration fees; and still the government presented all of that as normal, even irrelevant. My hope was pinned on someone taking a rational view and looking at logic: That’s what the Supreme Court did and that's why we won in the end.”

 

Representing Poitevent during the long chain of legal battles, Mark Miller, PLF attorney, says beneath all the court wrangling, the case is simple: “Boiled down, this was about the Poitevent family’s right to use land they’d owned back to the post-Civil War era. The government was saying, ‘Forevermore, you can only use the land like we tell you, but we’ll still tax you on it.” Poitevent stood up for his rights. It didn’t mean he would win, but he forced the government to answer for their actions. Their explanation was hollow and the Supreme Court saw it all the way.”

 

Miller clearly recalls the first time he heard the details of Poitevent’s story. “A Mississippi frog with private land set aside in Louisiana? When common sense is missing in a case, that’s when I want to be involved. Trials are sometimes morality plays, but the morality often gets pushed aside. Nobody wants to see a species go extinct, but at the same time that shouldn’t mean the abandonment of common sense—which happened from day one.”

 

The Ghost Frog ...

 

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Foundation of Freedoms ...

 

more, including links 

https://www.agweb.com/article/private-property-victory-feds-wave-white-flag-esa-fight