Today is part one in a robust series in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on the federal government’s management of endangered species. Reporters Robert McClure and Lisa Stiffler, who undertook the Herculean task of reading more than 10,000 pages of management documents, demonstrate that officials have allowed hundreds of exemptions to the Endangered Species Act, in what amounts to a license to kill vanishing creatures. Under the auspices of flawed habitat conservation plans, for example:

Agencies entrusted to protect animals have allowed driving on Florida beaches where threatened sea turtles nest, the electrocution of rare birds on security fences at California prisons and the killing of protected salmon in one of southwest Washington’s last undammed rivers.

I’ll have much more to say about this on Thursday, at the conclusion of the three-part series. And following McClure’s and Stiffler’s lead I’ll take a look at Washington’s forthcoming habitat conservation plan that will affect 9.1 million acres of forests in the Evergreen state.

Stay tuned…