Endangered Species Act

In 1973, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which designated and defined “endangered” and “threatened” statuses for native plants and animals. Richard Nixon signed the Act into law, stating that, “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed.”

Today, around 2,270 species are considered threatened or endangered. “Endangered” species are at risk of becoming extinct in the near future (entire population or key local population) while “threatened” species are at risk of becoming endangered in the near future.

In addition to protecting the listed species, the ESA also requires federal agencies to take action to protect species’ “critical habitats,” or habitats that are necessary for the continued survival of a species. This makes it a powerful and effective tool that we use regularly to protect imperiled species in our region.

The ESA is one of the most successful pieces of legislation ever passed. 99% of the species protected by the Act have been saved from extinction. And 90% of Americans support the Endangered Species Act.

Download more information about the ESA.

Some of the species considered 'threatened' in Colorado
Some of the species considered 'endangered' in Colorado

Current Threats to the ESA

Federal Bills

S.935/H.R.2134 - Endangered Species Management Self Determination Act
H.R.2603 - Saving America's Endangered Species Act
S.376/H.R.1273 - 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act
H.R.717 - Listing Reform Act

Other Threats

New formula proposal to Fish and Wildlife Services
Budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior
Committee Hearings on 'modernization' of the Endangered Species Act

Ways to Oppose Threats to the ESA

Send a message to your representatives to let them know that Coloradans support a strong Endangered Species Act and are willing to act to preserve our state’s biological diversity.

  1. Attend a RMW ESA Action Day event
    Join RMW at one of our ESA Action Days. Come sign a postcard to let your senator know that you care about Colorado species protected by the Act including lynx, black-footed ferrets, burrowing owls, and Gunnison sage-grouse.
    August 24, Boulder – Don’t Mess with Success – ESA Happy Hour
    September 10, Denver – ESA Action Day at LUSH
  2. Download, print, sign, and send one of RMW’s ESA postcards to your representatives.
    RMW has created a postcard you can use to tell your senator that you care about Colorado species. Download, print, sign, and send these ESA Postcards.
  3. Send a personalized letter to your representatives.
    Sending a personalized letter to your senator is a good way to let them know you care.

Colorado’s senators and their contact information:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D)
261 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5852
Fax: 202-228-5097

Sen. Corey Gardner
354 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5941
Fax:  (202) 224-6524

Talking points regarding ESA threats to include in personal message:

  • The Endangered Species Act has prevented 99% of species on the Endangered Species List from going extinct.
  • Preserving and protecting endangered species sustains Colorado’s biological diversity and ecological health.
  • Failures of the act to recover some species is the result of inadequate funding to implementation of the act, and increased funding rather than “modernization” is the way to fix this problem.
  • Tourism is the second-largest industry in Colorado. In 2015 77.7 million visitors to Colorado spent $19.1 billion. Preserving endangered species will keep people coming to Colorado for its unmatched nature tourism.
  • Transferring ESA authority from the federal government to state government will not make the Act more effective, since species are only listed after state actions prove insufficient to protect them.
  • 90% of Americans support the Endangered Species Act, making it one of the most popular and enduring pieces of legislation on the books. Coloradans will elect legislators who take a stand to preserve and protect the species that make our state unique.