PORTERVILLE RECORDER | Editorial | September 26, 2014
While the City of Porterville is not ready to stop watering its elderberry mitigation project along Highway 190 east of town any time soon, the news that Tulare County has been removed as a habitat area for the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle is certainly welcome news.
The beetle is included on the federal list of threatened species and because the beetle thrives on the elderberry bush, it too is protected. For about a decade the city has had to maintain a project where it plants elderberry bushes for every bush removed. City manager John Lollis said the city has spent a million dollars on the project and that figure does not take into account the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by private developers who had to come up with their own mitigation plans.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife made two announcements. The first is that it was removing the counties of Tulare, Kern and Fresno as habitat areas for the beetle and second, that it was suspending its efforts to delist the bug from the threatened list. The action to remove the counties from the habitat range was the direct result of efforts by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) who became concerned with the impact the bug and the bush by the same name were having on both the city and developments in Porterville. The beetle was added to the threatened list in 1980, but in 2006 a review of that list recommended delisting the beetle. In 2010, a petition was filed to remove any beetle-critical habitat designations.
In its announcement last week, the Fish and Wildlife service did not explain why it was dropping efforts to delist the beetle, but we would encourage the effort to continue. The beetle and bush have been a thorn in the side of progress for far too long and the city’s mitigation project is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The bush can be found almost anywhere along the river and most of those bushes are doing far better than those the city is paying to keep alive.