Two of the many tools that have proven useful in benefiting candidate and imperiled species are Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCAs) and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs). These are formal conservation agreements between the Service, Federal agencies, States, Tribes and non-governmental organizations who voluntarily commit to implement specific actions designed to remove or reduce threats to the covered species on Federal and non-Federal land, including private land.
Together, the partners can take proactive steps to enhance fish, wildlife and their habitats. In creating conservation agreements, the partners:
- Identify threats to the species;
- Plan the conservation measures needed to address those threats (e.g. restoring riparian areas);
- Solicit public comments;
- Identify landowners interested in conserving species;
- Design and implement conservation measures; and
- Monitor their effectiveness.
The Service has entered into more than 100 CCAs in the past 15 years, and 24 CCAAs since 1999. More than 160 species of fish, wildlife and plants have benefited. Early action gives conservation the best chance of success. Some agreements have been so effective in removing threats to the species that listing has not been necessary.
Proactive conservation actions also increase the likelihood that simpler, more cost-effective conservation options are available. In addition, resource managers and property owners have more flexibility to manage their resources and use their land, now and in the future.
What's in it for...
Fish, wildlife and their habitats should benefit in improved chances for their long-term survival. If the conservation measures prove effective, threats to the species should be reduced or eliminated. As a result, the species may not need the ultimate Federal protection, which is to be listed under the ESA.
... the States
States are equal partners with the Service in these agreements. They can initiate a conservation agreement for a species or a group of species in the same habitat, and they have the authority to enroll landowners. Importantly, the States retain management of species. If they participate in a CCAA, States can also receive regulatory certainty and cost containment if the species requires Federal protection.
Landowners, including States, private entities and other non-Federal landowners, are assured of regulatory certainty and cost containment when they sign on to a CCAA. From the outset, they know and have agreed to the specific conservation measures they will need to implement on their properties.
Non-governmental organizations may also be equal partners with the Service. Like the States, they can initiate the conservation agreements and enroll landowners, if they have the required resources and authority within their organizations.
... Other Federal Agencies
Federal agencies that participate in conservation agreements have greater flexibility in how they manage their land for species conservation in the future, to help try and prevent the need for an ESA listing. From the outset, Federal agencies work with the Service to determine the best course of conservation action on their land.
... the Public
Benefits to the public include cost-effective conservation actions designed to enhance fish, wildlife and their habitats for future generations of Americans. Wildlife improves the quality of human life, from offering natural filters for air and water to providing cures for diseases. Saving every species enhances our own long-term survivability and enjoyment of this planet. In addition, the more we can prevent the need to protect species under the ESA, the fewer regulations will be placed on landowners, hunters, anglers, and others who interact with those species.
Sand flax. Photo © Keith Bradley.
A black pine snake, a candidate species found in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Photo: Bill Finch, TNC.