Working With Private Landowners
Working with private landowners is essential to the recovery of listed species because habitat for many listed species occurs primarily, and in some cases, exclusively on private land. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) offers many programs and services to private landowners to help them meet their responsibilities as described under Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to support them in voluntary efforts to help conserve threatened, endangered, and candidate species. Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the take of species listed as endangered or threatened by the USFWS.
- Pursuant to Section 10 of the ESA, USFWS may issue Incidental Take Permits (ITP) to take listed species if such taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. The following is a summary of some of the species conservation programs available to private landowners.
Technical assistance is coordination between USFWS and private landowners, other agencies, or other partners. Private landowners may request technical assistance to review their proposed projects or management activities in order to avoid or minimize adverse effects to listed species or to determine if an ITP is needed. The technical assistance process provides landowners with an opportunity to have projects reviewed for potential impacts to threatened and endangered species. Similarly, USFWS provides recommendations on projects such that effects to listed species are minimized or eliminated.
The Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office (Yreka FWO) provides technical assistance on a variety of topics including Fire Safe Council fuels reduction projects and Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects. All questions and current requests for technical assistance for private land timber harvest plans should be made directly to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Habitat Conservation Plans
Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) under the ESA provide a long-term framework for the development and completion of projects while conserving at-risk species of plants and animals. HCPs integrate land use activities and species conservation for areas ranging in size from less than one acre to over 1 million acres. Through the HCP process, landowners are issued an ITP for threatened, endangered, candidate, and sensitive species covered by the HCP. The permits provide land owners with certainty that they will not be liable if otherwise lawful activities result in incidental take of listed species. Benefits of an HCP to species include conservation through the protection of habitat, which may preclude the listing of sensitive species.
Safe Harbor Agreements
Safe Harbor Agreements (SHA) are voluntary arrangements between USFWS and non-Federal landowners that promote conservation of listed species. Conservation of listed species under SHA is achieved through land management actions that maintain, improve, or restore habitat. SHAs are in place for a duration long enough to achieve a net benefit for species, after which land owners may return the property to conditions agreed upon as the baseline. An “enhancement of survival permit” is issued to the landowner through the SHA, which provides assurances that incidental take of listed species would be allowed to the extent that population levels or habitat conditions were returned to baseline conditions.
Candidate Conservation Agreements
Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA) are agreements between Federal or non-Federal partners that address the conservation of candidate or at-risk species. Under a CCA, landowners agree to implement actions that remove or reduce threats to species for a specified period of time. CCAs provide landowners with a formal management plan that identifies specific conservation actions for covered species and their habitats. Species benefit from CCAs through a reduction in threats and improving status such that listing may not be necessary.
Learn more about how the Yreka FWO works with landowners and CCAs
Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances
Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) go further than CCAs by providing non-Federal landowners with incentives for participating in species conservation. The CCAA program is specifically targeted for non-Federal landowners and provides them with the assurance that if they implement various conservation activities, they will not be subject to additional restrictions if a covered species becomes listed under the ESA. CCAAs provide benefits to covered species by reducing threats so that listing may not be necessary.
Learn more about how the Yreka FWO works with private landowners and CCAAs
Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Partners for Fish and Wildlife is a voluntary program that provides technical assistance and cost-share incentives to private landowners for the restoration of fish and wildlife habitats. Landowners work directly with USFWS biologists to develop project plans that meet the goals and objectives of the landowners in a manner that also benefits fish and wildlife species on the property. To implement a project, a cooperative agreement with a minimum duration of 10 years is signed. The landowner is reimbursed after project completion, based on the terms of the cooperative agreement. The restoration of important habitats on private lands may reduce threats to species and prevent the listing of species.
Learn more about how the Yreka FWO works with the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.
Spotted Owl Management Plans
Spotted Owl Management Plans (SOMP) are documents that detail measures to avoid take of northern spotted owls (NSO) as a result of timer harvest operations on privately owned land. SOMPs are developed cooperatively between USFWS and a private land owner. A SOMP can be used to streamline the review of timber harvest plans. The contents of a SOMP include, but are not limited to: a description of the area covered, protection measures for breeding or nesting NSOs, habitat definitions, and habitat quality and quantity retention requirements. SOMPs contain expiration dates upon which USFWS and land owners meet to review and revise the document as necessary. Incorporation of new scientific information may occur at any time during the lifetime of the SOMP.
The Yreka FWO currently oversees two SOMPs, one for Timber Products Company (Siskiyou, Shasta, and Trinity counties) and the other for Hearst Corporation (Shasta and Trinity counties).