Landowner Edward Poitevent’s lawyers went before the U.S. Supreme Court Monday to argue against an Obama administration decision to label his land “potential backup habitat” for an endangered species of frog that hasn’t been seen there in decades.
That’s only part of the problem. Should the frogs be relocated to Poitevent’s land in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, today, they wouldn’t be able to survive.
“If you put the frog back on there today, it would die,” Poitevent told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an on-camera interview ahead of oral arguments in the case Weyerhaeuser Company v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
WATCH EDWARD POITEVENT’S DCNF INTERVIEW:
Poitevent’s family has owned the land in question for more than 135 years, but in 2011 he was told by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists his family’s land needed to be set aside for the endangered dusky gopher frog.
Federal officials said the Endangered Species Act (ESA) allowed them to designate land currently unoccupied by the frog as “critical habitat,” even if the land in question is not actually suitable for the animals.
Poitevent disagrees and sued the federal government to prevent them from using the ESA to ensnare his 1,500 acres of land — that’s nearly twice the size of Central Park in New York City.
“Even if the frog were to reappear on my land magically, the land does not have the necessary biological and physical elements on the land that it needs to survive,” Poitevent said.
The land would have to be drastically altered, including ripping out all the trees, planting new ones, then conducting controlled burns annually to kill off the underbrush. (RELATED: The Trump Administration Will Side With Environmentalists And Defend An Obama-Era Policy Before The US Supreme Court)
The frog’s current habitat is about 100 miles away in Mississippi, which Poitevent says makes it pretty much impossible they’d ever come to his land on their own.
“They’d have to cross a huge swamp that divides the state of Louisiana and Mississippi, called the Honey Island Swamp,” Poitevent said. “They would then have to march through various communities. They’d have to cross two interstate highways, march down a public highway called Highway 36 and then somehow say, ‘oh aha, this is where we belong.’ It’s just absurd.”
Environmentalists say Poitevent’s land is necessary for the frogs, despite it not currently being habitable. Federal officials said designating Poitevent’s land as critical habitat could cost his family $34 million, and that doesn’t include the cost to taxpayers to alter the landscape.
“You could put polar bears in Key West with enough money. You could put fish in the Sahara Desert with enough money, or Death Valley,” Poitevent said.
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