Thursday, November 11, 2010

Unlikely Bedfellows

"Politics makes strange bedfellows"
   -Charles Dudley Warner (1850)

What brings together a brothel, a staunch opponent of the Endangered Species Act, and the Nevada Department of Wildlife?  You guessed it, a threatened Amargosa toad.  This inspiring story is reported on NPR.  In today's atmosphere of blame and angry voices, this is a model of the combined interests of groups with different agendas creating a common good.

First the toad, a desert species which survives along a small river and in warm springs of a xeric climate.  Ranching, mining and off-road racing in the Oasis Valley have been associated with declining numbers of the toad and calls to put it on the endangered species list.
Enter David Spicer, a rancher, himself feeling endangered by the potential threat to his way of life by the Endangered Species Act and his distrust of government intervention.   In stead of a militant attack on the forces of government, he creates habitat for the toad, increasing their numbers.  From the NPR story:
"What you're seeing tonight are the results of active land management, active habitat management," Spicer says.  He has run miles of underground pipe around his property to create breeding pools and wet habitat for the toads.  Spicer grew up with the toads and wants to preserve them, he says.
But here's the surprising thing: Another reason, and perhaps the major reason Spicer has gone to such lengths is because he really, really does not like the Endangered Species Act.
"Nobody trusts the government anymore," Spicer says. "Nobody wants to work with the government. The government always wants to take something from you."

There are still 24 species in the area that are endangered or threatened, so there is a lot of work to be done.  The hopeful lesson to draw from this is that we don't have to agree with each other's political philosophy if we can find common cause in an outcome.  For instance, protecting your land and way of life as well as a toad.

And the brothel?  Sorry, you have to read the story at NPR.

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