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Western Governors to Seek Endangered Species Act Changes

Starting his 12-month term as chair of the Western Governors' Association (WGA), Wyoming  Gov. Matt Mead on Wednesday said the group would work to improve the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The first of a series of forums on the topic will be held in November in Wyoming.

The executive director of the bipartisan WGA, Jim Ogsbury, joined Mead in making the announcement, noting he will manage the association's ESA push. Mead and Ogsbury used a site at the North Platte River as a backdrop of recreation and wildlife co-existing positively.

They said there are currently 2,221 species globally listed as "threatened" or "endangered,"  with 1,568 species in the United States, and the rest (653) around the world. Since 1973, some 2,230 species have been listed for protection under the ESA. Among the 2,230, 30 species have recovered and 19 others were de-listed due to an error in original data.

As part of WGA work on this issue, five forums will be hosted by governors in WGA member states. At each meeting, experts will be brought in to share best practices and case studies on species management, Mead said. The information will be compiled into a final report that will guide WGA efforts in the legislative, regulatory and legal arenas.

ESA touches people and economies throughout the West  in "significant ways," Mead said, speaking at the Gray Reef Access Area outside Casper, WY. He promised a "hard look" at ESA.

Mead's initiative bids to identify where ESA has been successful and where changes are needed. "This effort will invite participation from a broad spectrum to come up with good information and useful recommendations," he said.

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