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From: Mitch_Snow@fws.gov
To: fws-news@lists.fws.gov
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2003 5:01 AM
Subject: [fws-news] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Revisions for Endangered Species Conservation Agreements


Contact: Chris Tollefson  202/208-5634

 

        U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE PROPOSES REVISIONS FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES CONSERVATION AGREEMENTS
 


      As part of its continuing efforts to promote the conservation of
imperiled species on private lands, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
proposed two separate rules that would revise regulations governing
conservation agreements for Federally designated threatened and endangered
species.

      "The Administration is continually looking for ways to make the
Endangered Species Act work better.  We believe these proposed changes will
result in increased numbers of landowners working with us to develop Safe
Harbor Agreements and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances.
Both of these programs provide immense conservation benefits while helping
citizens coexist with imperiled species," said Service Director Steve
Williams.  Michael Bean of Environmental Defense, who has helped develop
several safe harbor agreements, said that "these revisions should make it
clearer and easier for landowners to participate in these novel
conservation agreements."

      Both Safe Harbor Agreements and Candidate Conservation Agreements
with Assurances (CCAAs) are intended to remove potential disincentives for
landowners to manage their property for the benefit of listed and candidate
species. Some landowners have made it clear that they need a better
understanding of the obligations and benefits provided by Safe Harbor
Agreements and CCAAs before they will participate in agreements.

       In other cases, property owners may be willing to actively help
protect endangered or threatened species through Safe Harbor Agreements or
CCAAs only if they can limit the area to be occupied by the species through
intentional take, particularly when species expansion would interfere with
activities outside of the area covered by the agreement. The proposed rules
are intended to expand citizen conservation by addressing landowner
concerns and more fully describe the range of activities that can be
permitted in conjunction with a Safe Harbor Agreement or CCAA.

      The first proposed rule will restate eligibility for Candidate
Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) and Safe Harbor Agreements.
It will  and provide definitions for conservation and mitigationconsistent
with related policies and the intent of the agreements.   The proposal more
explicitly provides landowners with greater certainty that such agreements
will be altered only if continuing an authorized activity may jeopardize
the existence of the protected species.  Other options, such as the capture
and relocation of the species, compensation for foregoing the activity, or
purchase of the property or an easement would be given a priority when
feasible, with permit revocation reserved as the option of last resort.

      A second proposed rule would revise the permit associated with Safe
Harbor Agreements and CCAAs to more clearly state the Service's ability to
authorize "take" (capturing, killing or otherwise disturbing or harming a
species or its habitat) in conjunction with activities such as
reintroduction and habitat restoration when the benefits of habitat
protection or restoration provided by the associated agreements outweigh
any impacts caused by anticipated take of protected species.

      By ensuring that traditional agricultural uses can continue alongside
habitat improvements, this provision can make it easier for landowners to
enter into SHAs and CCAAs that will provide overall benefits to the
species.

      "Both proposed rules will create a cooperative context that
encourages landowners to participate as citizen stewards in protecting
endangered, threatened, and other species," Williams said.

      The Service encourages the public to send comments on both proposed
rules to Division of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Room 420, Arlington Square Building, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington,
VA 22203 by November 10, 2003.  The text of the proposed rules can be found
in the September 10, 2003 Federal Register and online at
http://endangered.fws.gov.

      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 95- million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System, which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small
wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national
fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services
field stations.  The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the
Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores
nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat
such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation
efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds
of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to
state fish and wildlife agencies.

                                      fws-
         For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
                    visit our homepage at http://www.fws.gov

 

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