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Action by feds would harm ag producers...says Hastings

A federal agency is overreaching and in the process may well hurt agricultural producers and public access to federal lands.

That's according to Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco), who says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's proposal this week to list two plants in the Hanford Reach as endangered "...may well restrict irrigated farming."

Hastings says the proposal to list the Umtanum Desert buckwheat and the White Bluffs bladderpod as endangered could ultimately block public access and multi-use of thousands of acres of Hanford monument and adjoining state and private lands.

"The Endangered Species Act is being abused and warped by a barrage of costly lawsuits where lawyers seek to force hundreds of new ESA species listings through closed-door settlements with the federal government," said Hastings in a released statement. He noted the two plants proposed for listing in this week's announcement is the result of eight years of litigation by extreme environmental groups.

"As Chairman of the House Natural Resources with jurisdiction over the Endangered Species Act, I intend to closely examine this action before any final decisions are made to ensure the local community, private property and the public's right to access public lands are protected," Hastings added.

The proposal includes the designation of approximately 344 acres as critical habitat for the Umtanum Desert buckwheat and 2,861 acres as critical habitat for the White Bluffs bladderpod.

These designations include a mix of federal, state and privately-owned lands.

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