Vail Daily letter: Take action to protect endangered species | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Take action to protect endangered species

Did you know that Gov. John Hickenlooper officially declared May 15-19 as Colorado Endangered Species Week? This proclamation is in concert with the National Endangered Species Week celebrated throughout the United States, which culminated in National Endangered Species Day on Friday, May 19.

In his words, "Colorado's environment, conservation ethic and passion for the outdoors makes our state the ideal setting to preserve and protect our region's impressive and irreplaceable biodiversity. Coloradans are encouraged to recognize all the year-round hard work that is done by nonprofits within our state to prevent the extinction of species and their habitats …"

Specifically, Colorado Endangered Species Week is intended to bring awareness that more than 300 rare and imperiled plant and animal species are at risk today in Colorado, and to encourage Coloradans to take action to help protect the biodiversity of our region.

Imperiled plants and animals in Colorado include such wildly diverse species as the Gunnison sage-grouse (first new avian species described since the 1800s), Graham's penstemon (found only in Rio Blanco County), Preble's meadow jumping mouse (on eastern edge of the Front Range) and the desert-dwelling Debeque Phacelia (found only in Mesa and Garfield counties).

Although no longer here, under the Endangered Species Act, gray wolves are also protected in Colorado, should any migrate from adjacent states. Nationally, the Endangered Species Act has given thousands of at-risk species a second chance over the past 40 years and successfully prevented the extinction of 99 percent of species under its protection.

Now would be a great time to urge our elected representatives to preserve the spirit and integrity of the Endangered Species Act and to oppose legislation here at home that takes aim at imperiled wildlife.

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Brian Duchinsky

Headwaters Group, Colorado Sierra Club, serving Eagle County

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