Nothing to be gained by trying to outsmart Mother Nature

Robert Fouse /

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is on the verge of declaring the Oregon spotted frog a threatened species.

To meet the goals of The Nature Conservancy, the USFWS proposes to designate nearly the entire Deschutes River watershed as critical habitat for the spotted frog. I hope all of you saw the map of the areas covered to protect the spotted frog; if not, you should visit its website (www.fws.gov) and check it out. Remember to comment, pro or con, I care not. Unintended consequents abound when the government is involved.

I did not go to the meeting because it was canceled. I will not attend anyway. I have been to others and I, for one, no longer wish to be soft-soaped into thinking that any comments offered to the folks in charge would be well received.

Should you examine success or failure of USFWS in the recent past, you could start with the spotted owl. The spotted owl was used to close large swaths of public land to logging to preserve critical habitat. That action decimated the economy of Oregon.

Turns out that the critical habitat wasn’t really the issue, was it? It now appears that the barred owl is what is really causing the problem. Seems little spotty can’t compete with his barred cousins.

USFWS’ answer is to hire a bunch of folks to go hunting and rid the world of 3,600 barred owls so ole spotty will have a chance. You know any time you start thinking that you are smarter than Mother Nature, things will not go well for you. Mother Nature’s rules are pretty tough: adapt or die, no questions asked.

How about the snowy plover? All they did was close 16,000 acres of your beach, which is now slated to expand to 28,000 if they get their way. They actually put up signs telling you to keep out, you are entering critical habitat.

Now along comes the spotted frog. Seems someone somewhere introduced bullfrogs and green frogs into the spotted frog’s habitat. Guess what happened? The spotted frogs went into decline; seems they can’t compete.

Mother Nature is cruel, is she not? Are these the same folks who have allowed the introduction and protection of the wolf in Oregon? We have only seen the surface of that policy.

You need to think about what it truly means to live in critical habitat areas. In the first place, USFWS will rule your use of private property. There are more than 6,000 acres of private land in the soon-to-be-designated areas. You will not be allowed to take any actions on the waterfront without permission from USFWS and other agencies of the government, even though you have a title to the land. USFWS may decide that there are just too many people using the river and put in a permit system that limits access.

Have you been floating at Maupin lately? Maybe USFWS will decide that we can’t be spraying for mosquitoes because we are destroying the spotted frog’s food source?

Did you read about Brookings? If I were PacifiCorp, I would run as hard as I could to tear down that dam that creates Mirror Pond. If they don’t do it now, it will cost millions of dollars to repair the dam to preserve critical habitat for a frog that can’t meet Mother Nature’s demand.

What is really nice is that you get to pay and pay, while your government employees spend and spend, trying to outsmart Mother Nature.