Landowners Oppose Endangered Species Regulations

Landowners Oppose Endangered Species Regulations

Farmland Trust Survey Finds Support for Voluntary Incentives and Market Approaches
July 15, 1998

Washington, DC, July 15, 1998 — A recent survey released by the American Farmland Trust (AFT) confirms that American landowners prefer voluntary incentives and market approaches to land-use regulations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). "This shows landowners want conservation without regulation, not more federal regulations," commented Ike Sugg, Fellow in Wildlife and Land-Use Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

Seventy-five percent of agricultural landowners prefer voluntary species conservation efforts over government regulation of agricultural land, according to the AFT survey. Of these landowners, nearly 40 percent (30 percent of all landowners) support fully private efforts. Only sixteen percent support government regulations, such as those embodied in the Endangered Species Act.

"This survey shows that the ESA does not work any better for landowners than it does for endangered species," commented Sugg. "In its 25 year history, not a single species has recovered as a result of the ESA’s restrictions on private land use."

The AFT’s survey results are in accord with prior surveys commissioned by CEI. One such survey, conducted in July 1996, showed that only 11% of Americans support the current ESA which regulates private land use without compensating landowners for their losses. Some 33 percent supported compensation for losses incurred by landowners as a result of the ESA’s regulation of private property. Forty-nine percent supported the adoption of a non-regulatory, incentive-based approach to species conservation. In other words, 82% of those polled disagreed with the ESA’s regulatory approach. Combined with the AFT’s findings, CEI’s poll shows strong and continued public support for real ESA reform.

The AFT survey was of 1,729 owners of five acres of agricultural land from 42 states. The results, with a reported margin of error of 3.3 percent, were released last month in the AFT report Sharing the Responsibility: What Agricultural Landowners Think About Property Rights, Government Regulation and the Environment. Copies of the full report are available at the AFT website,

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy institute dedicated to the principles of free markets and limited government. For more information, contact Emily McGee at 202-331-1010.