Today, Congressman Kevin McCarthy sent a letter to United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Daniel Ashe supporting the Porterville City Council by urging the Service to delist the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to remove designated critical habitat for the beetle. The final rule is expected to be out this fall. McCarthy was joined on the letter by California State Senator Jean Fuller and California Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway.
Congressman McCarthy issued the following statement:
"I commend the efforts Porterville residents have taken to protect the elderberry beetle in our community. Their actions, combined with similar actions by other communities around California, appear to have worked, as FWS believes the beetle "no longer meets the definition of the endangered or threatened' under ESA. It is now time for FWS to expeditiously finalize this delisting rule, which would reduce onerous paperwork requirements and costly regulatory project delays, to help spur economic growth and job creation in Porterville, Tulare County, and around California."
State Senator Jean Fuller -- "Absorbing significant mitigation costs over the years to meet habitat protection requirements for the elderberry beetle, Porterville and its residents have been extremely patient during this process. So, I am hopeful that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hear and act upon our call for the timely delisting of the elderberry beetle."
State Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway -- "The city of Porterville has gone through great lengths to protect the habitat of the elderberry beetle. In fact, because of the city's good faith effort, the population of the insect has rebounded. Removing the protected species status of the elderberry beetle will allow the city to use limited taxpayer resources on other pressing needs."
· The Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1980.
· A FWS 5-year species review concluded in 2006 recommended delisting the beetle.
· In 2010, a petition was filed with FWS to delist the beetle as threatened under ESA and remove any beetle critical habitat designations.
· FWS proposed a rule in 2011 to formally delist the beetle and critical habitat, which can be reviewed here.
· On April 16, 2013, the Porterville City Council adopted a resolution calling on FWS to delist the beetle and any critical habitat designations. The resolution can be reviewed here.
· The City of Porterville has spent over $750,000 on elderberry beetle mitigation, and planted over 1,000 elderberry bushes and 1,000 associated plant species (i.e. oaks and willows).