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Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances Policy

Puerto Rico harlequin butterfly. Credit: USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and NOAA Fisheries have finalized revisions to the Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) policy under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Candidate Conservation program is emblematic of the flexibility of the ESA and how the law can be used to engage partners in conserving and protecting imperiled species before they are listed as threatened or endangered. In particular, CCAAs provide a mechanism that encourages non-federal landowners to implement specific conservation measures for at-risk wildlife. In return, they receive assurances that they will not be required to undertake any additional conservation measures or be subject to additional resource use or land use restrictions, even if subsequent information indicates that additional or revised conservation measures are needed for the species or if the species is ultimately listed under federal protection.

The policy revisions do not change landowner requirements for participation in the program, but rather clarify and simplify the process of developing and approving CCAAs. The two agencies hope these changes will encourage additional non-federal landowners to participate in these agreements. The policy now includes the term “net conservation benefit” to clarify the standard to which landowners will be held. To include their land into a CCAA under the revision, property owners must demonstrate that their proposed actions meet this new standard in order for the species to be covered by the agreement.

The Service is concurrently publishing changes to its CCAA regulations to make them consistent with these final changes to the policy.

The final policy will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register on December 27, 2016.

Read the News Release

View the Final Policy

View the Final Regulation Changes

Learn more about candidate conservation agreements

Last updated: December 23, 2016