Ecological Services achieves conservation of Service trust resources, focusing on imperiled species, through and with others.
The Southwest Region’s Ecological Services (ES) operates from 15 Field Offices and sub-offices in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma, as well as the Regional Office located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Ecological Services works with others to plan and implement on-the-ground conservation measures for species listed under the Endangered Species Act. For example, we consult with other federal agencies during the development phase of their projects so that impacts to a listed species can be avoided and the status of listed species can be improved through means such as habitat restoration, creation, and enhancement. Similarly, we work with private landowners and members of industry to develop Habitat Conservation Plans that outline on-the-ground conservation measures that can be carried out in conjunction with their development projects to offset impacts to species without impediment to economic growth and development. We use the best available science and sound managerial techniques to achieve conservation of Service trust resources, focusing on threatened and endangered species, 150 of which are found in the Southwest Region.
In doing this, we integrate our Federal authorities with social, political, and economic realities to ensure sound resource decisions, while recognizing the importance of a partnership approach addressing the needs of Federal, State, Tribal, local, and non-profit stakeholders, as well as private land owners. In addition, education and information dissemination are integral parts of all of our activities.
The Ecological Services division supports a number of specialized and high profile projects, among them, the Mexican Wolf, Houston Toad, and Whooping Crane recovery programs, which are demonstrating successes in working with partners to increase species numbers and manage key habitats.
American burying beetle. Credit: USFWS
The Southwest Region is also one of the leaders in the use of conservation banks as a tool for conserving listed species, while providing the private sector a means to mitigate their project impacts. In Texas, a number of banks have been established to provide conservation for endangered golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos. These banks provide a means for urban and residential development to proceed while protecting these bird species. We have also approved conservation banks in eastern Oklahoma for the endangered American burying beetle, providing an expedient way for the oil and gas project proponents to mitigate their impacts on the burying beetle.
Ecological Services has developed a Regional Spill Contingency Plan which addresses our response to oil and hazardous materials spills specific to the Southwest Region, and works to restore habitats and resources injured by releases of hazardous substances using a process called Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR). The goals of NRDAR are to restore the habitats and resources to the condition they would have been had the hazardous substances not been released, and to compensate the public for the loss of their use or enjoyment of natural resources.
Restoring a wetlands by removing invasive red and salt cedar. Credit: USFWS
Ecological Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program provides technical and financial assistance for restoration and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat on private lands, in partnership with other state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations. The Partners Program Restoring a wetlands by removing invasive red and salt cedar (USFWS) also establishes “Outdoor Conservation Classrooms” in many schools as a learning tool to teach students and other members of the public with an emphasis on wetlands and other important ecosystems. These sites provide a great opportunity to help connect children and adults to nature. To successfully educate young people on these resource issues, a "hands on," proactive and interactive Outdoor Classroom provides the ideal structured environment for learning.