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Candidate Species: Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances

Rome State Nature Preserve, Ashtabula County, Ohio


PDF of the entire Eastern Massasauga Candidate Conservation Agreement (15 pages)


Prepared by: Melissa Moser, ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves


This CCAA, effective and binding on the date of last signature below, is between Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Natural Areas and Preserves (DNAP) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service):


Property Owner: ODNR, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves


Service: The Service designates the following individual as the Agreement


Mary Knapp, Field Supervisor,

Reynoldsburg Ecological Service Field Office,

6950-H Americana Parkway, Reynoldsburg, OH
43068, (614) 469-6923.
Tracking Number: TEIO145l-O


The entire Rome State Nature Preserve (Rome SNP) is located within Ashtabula County, Ohio. Containing 104.842 acres of dedicated land, the preserve lies within the Grand River watershed along East and West Center Road (U.S. Rt. 6) at the township line bordering Rome and Hartsgrove Township (Figure I). As a dedicated state nature preserve, Rome SNP is protected under Ohio Revised Code 1517.05. The entire preserve will be included in this CCAA.


Authority and Purpose

Sections 2, 7, and 10 of the Endangered Species Act (Act) of 1973, as amended, allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enter into this CCAA. Section 2 of the Act states that encouraging interested parties, through Federal financial assistance and a system of incentives, to develop and maintain conservation programs is a key to safeguarding the Nation's heritage in fish, wildlife, and plants. Section 7 of the Act requires the Service to review programs that it administers and to utilize such programs in furtherance of the purposes of the Act. By entering into this CCAA, the Service is utilizing its Candidate Conservation Programs to further the conservation of the Nation's fish and wildlife. Lastly, section 10(a)(I)(A) of the Act authorizes the issuance of permits to enhance the survival of a listed species.


The purpose of this CCAA is for the Service to join with DNAP to implement conservation measures for the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (massasauga) by providing continuing protection for the Rome SNP population in Ashtabula County, Ohio. This agreement will detail the management strategies to be followed by the land manager. Conservation will be achieved by reducing threats to the population and maintaining and/or improving the available habitat.


The Service's Massasauga Conservation Strategy

Range-wide, many massasaugpa populations occur on protected lands (i.e., publicly owned land or land purposely set aside by non-governmental entities for long-term preservation). Because of the number and spatial distribution of these sites, it may be possible to slow or even halt the decline of the species in just a few years if the threats occurring on these properties are eliminated. Furthermore, if an adequate number of protected properties are sufficiently large and are capable of supporting viable populations, the burden on private lands for protecting/recovering a venomous snake can be minimized. Thus, to the extent possible, the aim of the Service is to concentrate conservation efforts on these protected properties. The goal is to assure the long-term protection of these populations through CCA(A)s (Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA) or Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA).


Although the aim is to concentrate efforts on protected properties, the Service is not dismissing the value of private lands in the conservation of massasaugas. Private lands, particularly those adjacent to protected properties, may be necessary for the long-term stewardship of massasaugas.


That is, while the protected lands likely support the core of remaining habitat, the non-protected lands may provide critical elements of massasauga habitat ( e.g., hibernacula, summer foraging areas, etc.). With this conservation strategy in mind, the Service and the States within Region 3 developed a collective section 6 proposal to best manage and utilize limited resource funding for massasaugas. The primary objective of the proposal is to develop 11 CCA/CCAAs on protected properties across the Midwest.


In developing CCAAs, we must ensure they meet the recovery standard. As protected properties harbor the core populations, the recovery standard on these sites is to ensure the long-term protection of the population. The specific conservation measures required at each protected property to achieve this standard will vary, however, in general the need is to protect critical habitat components (foraging, gestational, and over-wintering habitats) in sufficient quantities and qualities and to implement management practices that promote massasauga welfare. Thus, a CCAA will meet the recovery standard if it ensures massasauga persistence by committing to:


(1) implement management that promotes the well-being of massasaugas


(2) restore or enhance habitat to support a viable population, and


(3) protect such habitat.


On adjacent properties, the recovery standard is to protect or provide the constituent element needed for the population. For example, if a property provides gestational sites for the core population, the recovery standard for this site will be maintaining these areas for future use. Or, if a property once provided foraging habitat for the snake, and such habitat is needed for the core population to maintain or expand, then the recovery standard will be to restore and maintain the foraging capability of the property.


Follow this link to view the entire Eastern Massasauga Candidate Conservation Agreement for the Rome Nature Preserve (PDF: 15 pages)


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Last updated: April 14, 2015