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The Service's National Listing Workplan

As part of its ongoing efforts to improve the effectiveness and implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and provide the best possible conservation for our nation’s imperiled wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) developed a National Listing Workplan (Workplan) for addressing ESA listing and critical habitat decisions over the next seven years.  

Our priority is to administer the ESA more effectively and efficiently. The Workplan enables us to prioritize our workload based on the needs of candidate and petitioned species, while providing greater clarity and predictability about the timing of listing determinations to state wildlife agencies, non-profit organizations and other diverse stakeholders and partners, with the goal of encouraging proactive conservation so that federal protections aren’t needed in the first place. The Workplan represents the conservation priorities of the Service based on its review of scientific information.


The striped newt is currently a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

  The striped newt is currently a candidate species for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Kevin Enge, FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

The Workplan will enable us to systematically review and address the 362 highest priority pending listing and critical habitat decisions for petitioned and candidate species.  The Workplan identifies our schedule for addressing all 30 species currently on the ESA Candidate List, conducting 320 status reviews (also referred to as 12-month findings) for species that have been petitioned for federal protections under the ESA, 11 species for which the Service is undertaking voluntary status reviews to determine whether they are warranted for listing, and one court order.

A species’ inclusion in this workplan does not mean that the species is going to be listed as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA. That determination would be made following a rigorous scientific assessment of the species status to determine whether it meets the definition of an endangered or threatened species. If we determine that the species warrants listing, we would need to undertake the appropriate rule-making process before a species receives the protections of the Act. Our rule-making process requires public comment and scientific peer review before any action is finalized.
In the event that a petitioned species warrants ESA protections, we will seek to issue a listing proposal simultaneous with making the finding rather than adding the species to the candidate list and will endeavor to simultaneously propose critical habitat designations. Following proposals, we plan to issue final rules within statutory deadlines.

Updating the Workplan

The Workplan will be updated on this website to reflect our consideration of new information over time. We will also periodically report progress under the Workplan.  As we work through the current Workplan, we will add to it new species to forecast our priorities and upcoming status reviews a minimum of five years out. Providing this predictability and transparency to stakeholders creates opportunity for proactive conservation efforts that conserve species without needing the ESA’s safety net.

The Workplan is designed to be mostly static in nature to meet our objective of providing predictability; however, we recognize that adjustments will need to be made to incorporate new work and information. We will make adjustments with the following in mind:

  • Our intent is to always provide the public with a projection of our workload for a minimum of five years into the future.

  • Species with new “substantial” 90-day findings will be assigned a bin number (in coordination with States and others with relevant information) according to our methodology for prioritizing 12-month findings.

  • Critically imperiled species (Bin 1) will be incorporated into the Workplan as soon as possible.

  • Remaining species will be incorporated into the Workplan according to their bin number if feasible, or added to the back end of the Workplan if not.
Last updated: September 7, 2016