George Will writing in National Review:
“The frog is, like a well-born Victorian maiden, a frail flower, requiring everything to be just so: The frog needs an “open canopy” forest with suitable ground vegetation and food supplied if the area experiences frequent fires, and the frog only breeds in “ephemeral” ponds that are dry part of the year, thereby protecting the tadpoles from hungry fish. The FWS designated the 1,544 acres a “critical habitat” even though (1) no such frog has inhabited them for half a century and (2) none could live long there unless the land were substantially modified (e.g., trimming the canopy, producing suitable undergrowth, and experiencing fires that the acres’ loblolly pines cannot withstand) and (3) the loss of the acres could cost the owners $34 million in lost timber-farming and development.
“Writing in the manner of a schoolmarm whose patience has been sorely tried by a slow pupil, Roberts said: “According to the ordinary understanding of how adjectives work, ‘critical habitat’ must also be ‘habitat.’ Adjectives modify nouns — they pick out a subset of a category that possesses a certain quality.
George Will again reminding readers that true wordcraft is high art. Full column available here: