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Land Acquisition


Land acquisition is a strategy used by the Fish and Wildlife Service in achieving its goals and objectives for certain species and activities. The objectives below correspond to target categories in the Land Acquisition Priority System (LAPS).

LAPS is an automated resource-based process that provides a uniform and objective approach to prioritizing refuge land acquisition. The LAPS ranking process is used to determine the national priority of a proposed acquisition. It is used in all aspects of the Congressional budget process and provides easily accessible historical and future data on specific projects. The LAPS provides a biological basis for ranking projects and redirects acquisition efforts toward those projects having the highest overall national value.

Migratory Birds. The objective is to maintain and manage an appropriate distribution and diversity of high quality waterfowl habitat. This habitat will maintain current distribution of waterfowl populations and sustain an abundance of waterfowl consistent with population objectives stated in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

Endangered Species. The objective is to prevent species from becoming extinct and to recover their populations to the point where they no longer require listing on the Federal “List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.” Commonly, a species becomes endangered because of a loss of essential habitat. Often, the species can be preserved no other way than by protecting habitat through land acquisition. These habitats are usually under stress from competing uses and can be costly, both socially and economically, to acquire. For the purposes of using the LAPS, habitat protection must be identified in an approved recovery plan prior to being submitted for budgeting.

Nationally Significant Wildlife Habitat. Projects in this category prevent permanent loss of nationally significant fish, wildlife, and plant resources. This includes all Service wildlife management actions related to essential habitat for these species and ensures the perpetuation of habitat important to fish and wildlife species. Criteria have been established to qualify projects for protection and an extensive national effort has been made by States and other outside consultants to identify such ecosystems and alternate means of protecting them. Candidate areas for protection cover an extremely wide range of projects with respect to habitat, cost, and size. Proposed sites must contain a concentration of different species or a variety of species of a magnitude that sets them apart from similar sites around the country.

Nationally Significant Wetlands. The objective is to protect the Nation's more important, scarce, and vulnerable wetlands, particularly those representing a declining wetland type within an eco-region and those having high public benefit. A variety of benefits are associated with wetland preservation. Habitat will be provided for endangered species for commercial and/or sport fishes, and for wildlife-oriented recreation. Benefits will also be derived from continuation of or improvement in surface and groundwater quality and quantity and flood control. For the purposes of using LAPS, wetlands projects must be included in Regional Wetland Concept Plans.

Nationally Significant Fishery Resources. The objective is to protect and facilitate restoration of depleted, nationally significant fishery resources.

(1) The term "nationally significant" refers to fin-fish resources comprising a continuum of one or more unit stocks; i.e., reproductively discrete stocks represented by a single or an assemblage of closely related species, anadromous (anadromous means migrating up rivers from the sea to breed in fresh water, as salmon do) in character, and /or inter-jurisdictional (interstate or national) in distribution.

(2) Target fishery resources are primarily those whose performance and contribution have been reduced to sub-optimal levels by a wide variety of factors associated mainly with habitat degradation and excessive use. Emphasized are anadromous and Great Lakes resources represented by indigenous species within their original ranges. Although not a criteria for LAPS, land acquisition is also used to perfect or protect water supplies and watersheds.

Significant Biodiversity. The objective is to protect representative examples of nationally significant native ecological communities. Sites contain or provide potential for restoring nationally significant elements of our Nation's heritage. Biodiversity refers to the variety and variability among native organisms, communities, and the ecological complexes in which they occur.

(1) Biodiversity may be viewed at many levels, ranging from landscape complexes and complete ecosystems to the chemical structures that are the molecular basis of heredity. The term biodiversity, therefore, encompasses the numbers and relative abundance of different ecosystems, species, and genes native to any particular area of interest.

(2) Biodiversity acquisitions are those that contain all, or most, of their naturally occurring biotic (biotic means relating to life or specific life conditions) components and functions. Emphasis is placed upon the native aspects of the biota (biota means the animal and plant life of a particular region). The native species are those that occur as a result of natural succession and are not the result of humans or their commensals (commensalism is a relationship in which two or more organisms live in close attachment or partnership and in which one may derive some benefit but neither harms or is parasitic on the other). The objectives of protecting biodiversity are to capture, protect, and where possible, restore the native characteristics of the landscape, not to strive for areas of great numbers of species.

Last updated: August 26, 2008

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