The Information, Planning and Conservation System
Endangered Species Program
Conservation Measures (CMs)

What is a CM?

  • Conservation measures (CMs) are Service recommendations on how to avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate impacts or adverse effects that may result from certain activities.
  • The Information Planning and Conservation System (IPaC) maintains a database of CMs that may meet the needs of a particular situation.
  • CMs can be provided based solely on project location or can be refined based on the project type and the activities associated with the project type.

What do CMs Do?

  1. Avoid. Some CMs describe how to avoid adverse effects on listed resources. At times there may be simple measures that can be incorporated into project designs that will avoid exposure of listed resources to the potential effects of a activity. For example, if a proposed activity will have short-term impacts, it may be possible to conduct the activity outside of the time period in which the species will be present. Note that the ability to accomplish this will vary by species, ecological circumstances, and project needs.

  2. Minimize. Other CMs describe how to minimize adverse effects on listed resources. Many times it will not be possible to avoid all of the potential effects a proposed project may have on listed resources. However, there may be measures that can be incorporated into the project design that will minimize the resulting effects. For example, it may be possible to erect siltation fences that will minimize, though not eliminate, the addition of silt into nearby streams.

  3. Mitigate. Once it is determined that effects to a species will not be avoided and have been minimized to the extent that is determined to be reasonable, the remaining effects should be mitigated to ensure that the conservation status of the species will not be degraded. For example, if it is not possible to implement a proposed activity without destroying a certain amount of important habitat, a project proponent may propose to restore other areas that do not currently contain habitat in order to offset the remaining effects of their activity.
CMs will contain descriptions of:
  • what they are intended to accomplish from an ecological standpoint,
  • the consequences of not implementing them,
  • suggestions for achieving similar ecological results in the event that they cannot be implemented.

A Varying Landscape
Ecological conditions often vary greatly across the landscape. A proposed project in one area may not have the same effects if proposed in a different area. Therefore, we anticipate that not only may there be different CMs for different species, but there may also be different CMs for the same species in different areas. Combine this with the need to ensure that CMs for different species within the same area are compatible (e.g., when CMs for multiple species are applied to the same project the results don’t become so constricting as to make the project impracticable), and this can become a daunting task. For this reason we envision the development of an array of CMs that may need to be used in varying combination to provide the appropriate results. Due to this potential we anticipate that many times it will be necessary to provide a range of CMs with a discussion of when each is appropriate. Future phases of IPaC will contain an expert system that walks project proponents through the process of deciding which combination of CMs is appropriate for their proposed activity.

Eventually, the USFWS plans to utilize the CMs to complete a series of programmatic consultations. Programmatic consultations evaluate the potential for groups of related actions to affect listed and proposed species and designated and proposed critical habitat. Programmatic consultation techniques have the greatest potential to streamline the consultation process because much of the effects analysis is completed one time up front rather than repeatedly each time a new action, or batch of actions, is proposed. Developing a series of programmatic consultations based on the CMs will eventually allow many projects to be appended to the appropriate programmatic consultation such that the consultation process can be completed in a few days or, at times, a few hours.

Last updated: November 16, 2011
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