Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Revises its Policy on Mitigating Impacts of Development to Further Conservation of the Nation’s Wildlife and their Habitats
Policy provides a framework for more efficient and effective mitigation measures while facilitating review and approval of development projects

March 7, 2016


Vanessa Kauffman

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today announced new actions to mitigate the adverse impacts of land and water development on America’s wildlife and their habitats. A revision of the Service’s Mitigation Policy, which has guided agency recommendations to address these issues since 1981, will provide a broad and flexible framework to facilitate conservation that addresses the potential negative effects of development, while allowing economic activity to continue.

The revisions come on the heels of a recent Presidential memorandum directing certain federal agencies to adopt a common set of best practices to minimize the harmful impacts to wildlife and other ecological resources caused by land- or water-disturbing activities, and to ensure that any remaining harmful effects are appropriately addressed or mitigated.

“Effective mitigation is a powerful tool for sustaining and recovering species and the habitats upon which they depend,” said Gary Frazer, Assistant Director for Ecological Services. “Our challenge in these times of growing pressures on native plants, animals and ecosystems is to make the most of mitigation efforts to benefit the long-term sustainability of wildlife populations on a landscape scale, while facilitating sustainable development.”

The revised policy is intended to be a single, umbrella policy under which more detailed Service policies or guidance documents covering specific activities may be issued in the future. It expands the focus of mitigation to address larger-scale stresses that can work in tandem with development to adversely affect wildlife, including factors such as climate change and invasive species.

The policy will apply to all authorities under which the Service can make mitigation recommendations,   including the Service’s authority to protect species listed under the Endangered Species Act, which was excluded from the 1981 policy. It will also establish a goal of achieving a net conservation gain when recommending project mitigation, whenever the situation merits and doing so is allowed by law.

The revised policy establishes a new approach that will promote the most effective and efficient mitigation measures to be implemented across the landscape. This will require improved collaboration and coordination between all interested parties and effective integration of mitigation planning and landscape-level conservation strategies.

The revised policy will publish in the Federal Register on March 8, 2016.

Written comments and information concerning this proposal can be submitted by one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS-HQ-ES-2015-0126]; or
  • U. S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-HQ-ES-2015-0126]; Division of Policy, Performance and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike - MS: BPHC Falls Church, VA 22041-3808.

Comments must be received within 60 days, on or before May 9, 2016. The Service will post all comments on This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes.

The revision process and anticipated policies will be consistent with and supported by Secretarial Order 3330 - Improving Mitigation Policies and Practices of the Department of the Interior issued on October 31, 2013.

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