Independent Press Award
The Codex of the Endangered Species Act, Volume I: The First Fifty Years
Lowell E. Baier with Christopher E. Segal
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) is one of the most cherished and reviled laws ever passed. It mandates protection and preservation of all the nation’s species and biodiversity, whatever the cost. It has been a lightning rod for controversy and conflicts between industry/business and environmentalists.
The year 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of this law, and provides an opportunity for a measured and thorough evaluation thereof. We cannot know today’s challenges and opportunities without understanding their histories. This book is the most comprehensive history of the ESA ever published, and the first to consider the entire history of the law from all angles in a single volume.
The history of the ESA has been one of increasing impact, complexity, and controversy. In 1978, the Supreme Court declared that Congress intended for the U.S. government to save all species at any cost, and thereafter application of the ESA became steadily more controversial, as seen in the example of the northern spotted owl and the timber wars in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1980s and early 90s, and then everywhere as the ESA became a political football in the highly partisan environment of the late 1990s and amendments to the law ceased.
This book is not only a history, but a call to action. It will take more conservation, more funding, and more innovative solutions if we are to save our wildlife and biodiversity. It will take the engagement to every American to muster the collective will to meet this challenge. The hope of this book is that we will be able to look back and say that we accomplished more in the second 50 years of the ESA than we did in the first.