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The great escape and updates to endangered-species law

Kiss goodbye to the eight-hour workday and watch for proposed changes to the often-overreaching Endangered Species Act. Both have an impact on boating.

As a marine dealer, it’s likely not news when you read that your workday doesn’t end when you leave the store. You’re not alone. Apparently some 63 percent of 1,078 full-time workers surveyed by Harris Poll for CareerBuilder said the eight-hour day is outdated. The respondents were professionals in the sales, financial services, professional fields, info-tech and business services and industries.

We often say that boating is the great escape from the seemingly unrelenting 24-7 life faced in virtually any field today. It’s a message that should resonate in the marketplace and we need to continue to push it.

Interestingly, in the survey, 50 percent revealed they keep checking their email after hours and 38 percent noted they continue working beyond the traditional office hours. Some 20 percent said they don’t stop thinking about work until they fall asleep while a whopping 42 percent wake up thinking about their jobs.

We can help those folks that need to get away from work by putting them on the water. The truth has always been that when one casts off from the dock, the job and other life pressures seem left behind on land. We don’t sell boats, we provide escape machines, and every sales person needs to plant that seed — “this is our newest 22-foot family escape machine” and so on.

Endangered Species Act

Speaking of escape, there’s no running from the onslaught of Obama administration regulatory shakeups under the President’s so-called “green agenda.” But this one could be positive.

It’s the Endangered Species Act, overseen by the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries. These agencies have proposed positive changes to the way in which outside groups ask the government to review the status of plants and animals under the law.

For example, one needed change would give states a bigger role in the petition process, thereby increasing coordination with federal wildlife officials. Accordingly, the so-called petitioners, which are most often environmental or animal welfare groups, would be required to solicit information from relevant state wildlife agencies prior to asking for federal review of a species.

Not surprisingly, the proposal was immediately slammed by dozens of environmental groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the most frequent petitioners. They’ve taken aim at the proposal to reinterpret a key phrase of the 1973 statute — "a significant portion of range."

The act defines an endangered species as being in danger of extinction in all or a significant portion of its range. That’s been applied as meaning that a species need not be at risk of disappearing everywhere in order to make the endangered-species list. But Congress actually left it up to the agencies to spell out the meaning of "a significant portion of range.”

The administration's proposal redefines "significant" range as a portion of habitat so vital that its loss would threaten survival of the whole species — a more specific and stringent standard. Also under the revised policy, consideration of whether a species is “threatened” or “endangered” in a portion of its range would be limited strictly to those areas where it currently exists, rather than to use its historic range, which many say has been a totally unrealistic criteria used in the past.

Gary Frazer, assistant director of the Endangered Species Act program for the Fish and Wildlife Service, has noted the proposals seek to address legal challenges raised in deciding whether to impose broad restrictions on commercial activity for the sake of an entire species when only an isolated population of that species is imperiled. And "it certainly means not willy-nilly, listing tiny little populations all over the map on the basis of that population alone," Frazer added. Amen to that.

Finally, it’s believed the administration is trying to head off some of the long-standing criticism that the Endangered Species Act infringes on states' rights voiced by Republicans, Western governors and the oil and gas industry that has triggered the introduction of legislation in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Either way, an improved law could impact boating in ways ranging from Florida’s manatee issues to the building or expansion of marinas.



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