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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

June 9, 2000
Contacts: (FWS)Hugh Vickery 202/208-1456
(NMFW) Gordon Helm 301/713-2370


The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service announced a draft policy today identifying criteria that conservation agreements and other conservation efforts must satisfy in order to affect decisions on listing species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, including decisions on whether the conservation efforts make listing unnecessary.

The proposed policy is intended to guide the Services in making decisions on adding species to the federal list of threatened and endangered species. The policy explains the Services’ authority for considering future conservation efforts and voluntary conservation efforts when making listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act. The policy also identifies criteria that must be satisfied in order for the Services to determine that a conservation effort contributes to making listing a species unnecessary or contributes to forming a basis for listing a species as threatened rather than endangered .

The Services hope that by defining the level of certainty needed to ensure that conservation efforts will be implemented and effective, the policy will help states, local governments, and others prepare conservation agreements or plans that will make listing of declining species unnecessary.

Although development and implementation of conservation agreements and plans have been effective means of achieving protection of species and restoration of habitats, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to withdraw a proposal to list the Barton Springs salamander in Texas and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision to withdraw a proposal to list the Oregon Coast coho salmon based on conservation plans developed by the States were overturned by the courts. The Services then listed those species. This policy will help define for all parties a set of standards by which the Services will evaluate all future and voluntary efforts in determining whether to use those efforts in making a decision not to list a species.

"Keeping species off of the endangered species list should be our goal. We hope this policy will encourage states and others to initiate and expand efforts to conserve species before they reach this critical stage," said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark. Penelope Dalton, the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Assistant Administrator for Fisheries added, "This policy will let everyone know up front what standards conservation agreements and plans must meet to keep species off the list."

The policy explains that in order to determine that a conservation effort contributes to making listing a species unnecessary, or contributes to forming a basis for listing as threatened rather than endangered, the Services must find that the conservation effort is sufficiently certain to be implemented and effective. The policy lists several criteria that the Services believe must be satisfied in order to demonstrate that a conservation effort is sufficiently certain to be implemented and effective. For example, the criteria require that all laws and regulations necessary to implement the conservation effort be in place and that the parties that will implement the conservation effort provide a high level of certainty that they will obtain the necessary funding.

The draft policy will be published in the Federal Register on June 13. Public comments need to be postmarked by August 12, 2000, and sent to the Chief of the Division of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS-ARLSQ420, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20240.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 520 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is the principal steward of the nation’s living marine resources, protecting marine and anadromous species under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. An agency of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA Fisheries also regulates the nation’s commercial and recreational fisheries and conserving and managing marine species under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act throughout federal waters which extend 200 miles from the coastline.

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