One of the perverse effects of the Endangered Species Act is that it encourages private landowners to make their land inhospitable to potentially endangered species. This effect is well known (as I've written about here and here). Further evidence comes from Boiling Spring Lakes in North Carolina as reported in the News-Observer:
Since word got around this spring that owners could face problems selling land or building houses where the birds lived, people have been rushing to clear undeveloped lots of pine trees and yanking the woodpecker welcome mat.
More than anywhere else in North Carolina, Boiling Spring Lakes is a place where the coastal development boom and the federal Endangered Species Act have collided.
"People are just afraid a bird might fly in and make a nest and their property is worth nothing," said Joan Kinney, mayor of Boiling Spring Lakes in Brunswick County. "It is causing a tremendous amount of clear-cutting." . . .
The urgency for those clearing lots is that federal wildlife officials are drawing a new set of woodpecker nest maps, due any day. The revised maps will increase the identified woodpecker nests from about 15 to 25 and will greatly expand the number of lots where clearing or tree removal is restricted or banned without federal review. . . .
Lea Anne Werder, a real estate agent, said the woodpeckers had scared off several interested land buyers, and she'd lost two sales.
"I have a client whose property I listed," Werder said. "That was two weeks before we knew anything about the woodpeckers. It so happened that it had an active nest in the middle of it. He was told he wouldn't be able to develop his property. He yelled and screamed and called Fish and Wildlife to complain. Until they get this issue resolved, it's basically worthless."
Werder said there still is property in town for people who are ready to build a house, but that buying property as investment in certain areas is more risky until the issue is settled.
Bonner Stiller, a state lawmaker from Brunswick County, has owned a pair of lots as an investment here for more than 20 years. He cleared them recently. Stiller said he was sorry to lose the trees but wanted to protect his investment.
"You had to get in line to get somebody with a chain saw," Stiller said. "I have not a single pine tree left. Folks around here are terrified of the prospect of losing their property. That causes people to get out there and find out what they can do to protect themselves."