Ed Driscoll

'Invertebrates aren’t Sexy Megafauna'

At Hot Air, J.E. Dyer explores how your tax dollars are hard at work, producing classic radical environmentalism run amok, and destroying the prospects for business growth in California and elsewhere:

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit highlights a Powerline piece from Sunday by Steven Hayward on “demosclerosis,” which Hayward sees evidence of in the twin tales of the Keystone XL pipeline and a fallen Sequoia redwood tree in California.

For a slightly different tale of demosclerosis, see the Wall Street Journal today on “Flies and their lawyers,” which are keeping the Paiute Cutthroat Trout from “going home.”  The drama unfolds in the Sierra Nevada wilderness of California, southeast of Tahoe near the Nevada border.  In brief, the Paiute cutthroat trout (not to be confused with other varieties of cutthroat trout, like the Lahontan, for which there are also restoration projects underway) has been absent for decades from the 9-mile-long lower-creek area from which it is believed to have sprung some 10,000 years ago.  State fish and game officials introduced different varieties of trout into the lower-creek area some time back, and those trout did away with the Paiute cutthroat.

Happily, however, in 1912 a guy toted some Paiute cutthroats to the upper-creek area, above the waterfall, and the Paiute cutthroat trout survives to this day.  California Fish and Game and the federal authorities want to reintroduce the Paiute cutthroat to the lower creek.  They’ve been working on it since 1990.  The process itself isn’t expected to take long – get rid of the “non-native” fish by killing them off, put the Paiute cutthroat back in – but the regulatory requirements and the lawsuits have kept the restoration waiting on the shelf for 21 years.

The Wall Street Journal article Dyer links to ends thusly:

The following year Ms. Erman’s allies at Californians for Alternatives to Toxics filed new state and federal suits. They won a federal judgment forcing the state to modify the Paiute trout plan by doing more studies.

The trout plan was again on track in 2010, when the state and federal agencies completed final reports in preparation of poisoning the creek.

But a wet winter caused delays and the insect allies kept litigating. In September, U.S. District Judge Frank Damrell issued an injunction on the plan, in part because it “left native invertebrate species out of the balance.”

The plan, wrote the judge, was “failing to consider the potential extinction of native invertebrate species.”

Mr. Somer says the state is still hoping to find a way to restore the trout. “I never dreamed they’d drag it out this long,” he says. “I really thought that within my career we’d have the fish restored.”

Bug advocates hailed the pro-bug ruling as a victory for under-appreciated animals. Insects need special protection because they don’t generate much sympathy, lacking the appeal of more alluring animals like trout, says Mr. Frost, the anti-toxin lawyer.

“Invertebrates aren’t sexy megafauna,” he says.

I don’t know about that. The mollusk is a randy little bugger — and pretty badass, sort of the honeybadger of the invertebrate set: