One of the most cussed and discussed acts in the history of government agency empowerment is 40 years old. This year is the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proud of its efforts to enforce the act and will be conducting commemorations of the act throughout the year. The service describes the act as having been “successful in stabilizing populations of species at risk, preventing the extinction of many others and conserving the habitats upon which they depend.”

The FWS gives credit to the act for saving some high-profile species. “The bald eagle, brown pelican, Lake Erie watersnake, American alligator and Maguire daisy are all species that were on the brink of extinction, but have successfully rebounded. The wood stork, Kirtland’s warbler, Okaloosa darter, black-footed ferret and Louisiana black bear are also listed species that are showing significant progress toward recovery. These species are just a few examples of those benefiting from the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act and the dedicated people who work to ensure their continued existence,” the FWS announced.

Of course, there is no mention of how many lawsuits by environmental activists have been filed based on language in the act and how many major projects from roads to personal homes have been stopped or slowed from proceeding because of the act. And enforcement of the act has been anything other than cheap.

The service launched a dedicated website spotlighting the history and accomplishments of efforts to protect and recover America’s threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

Based on the mission of the FWS, the question might be if the service would even exist without the Endangered Species Act being in place. The beginning statement in the mission explains how protection of species is apparently the No. 1 goal. “The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”

In the end, the Endangered Species Act is not all good or all bad but enforcement of it has ballooned into much more than those members of Congress and the President must have anticipated when it was enacted.