Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Final Policy Provides Standards to Offset Impacts of Development on America’s Most At-Risk Species
First-of-its-kind compensatory mitigation standards benefit imperiled species and their habitats while allowing economic activities to continue.

December 23, 2016


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today finalized a policy that will effectively and sustainably offset the adverse impacts of development activities to the nation’s most at-risk species and their habitats. The impacts of development on the environment are most acutely felt by wildlife already on the brink. Such activities, if unaddressed, can cumulatively push those species over the edge. Smart policy can provide developers and industry with consistent standards and clear guidelines to enable them to mitigate their impacts while allowing their activities to continue.

“The impacts of development on fish and wildlife resources are myriad and complex, without a one-size-fits-all solution. This policy provides clear and consistent standards to address anticipated but unavoidable adverse impacts of proposed actions on listed species and other resources of concern,” said Gary Frazer, the Service’s Assistant Director for Ecological Services. “It will improve collaboration and coordination between all parties when the Fish and Wildlife Service is engaged in compensatory mitigation planning and implementation, and assist us in meeting the challenges posed by population growth, climate change, invasive species and other stressors.”

The policy follows a recent Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of the Interior to update its existing mitigation policy and craft a new policy that addresses mitigation of impacts on species that are listed, or may soon need to be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service released a final revised Mitigation Policy in November 2016 and has now finalized the ESA Compensatory Mitigation Policy, which provides greater certainty and predictability to the regulated community while improving conservation outcomes for affected species.

The Compensatory Mitigation Policy adopts the guiding principles from the final revised Mitigation Policy, including the goal of improving or, at minimum, maintaining the current status of affected resources, whenever doing so is allowed by law.

The final policy is the first comprehensive treatment of compensatory mitigation under authority of the ESA to be issued by the Service. The policy clarifies existing guidance and covers all compensatory mitigation mechanisms recommended or supported by the Service when implementing the ESA including: permittee-responsible mitigation, conservation banking, in-lieu fee programs and habitat credit exchanges. The benefits provided by these mitigation programs will encourage and incentivize federal agencies and applicants to develop proposed actions that compensate for adverse impacts to affected species.

The Service will issue comprehensive guidance on the implementation of compensatory mitigation projects and programs under the ESA after publication of the final policy.

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

The mitigation principles and compensatory mitigation standards identified in this draft policy are part of the Service’s efforts to improve the implementation of the ESA. For more information:

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.