The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comments to assist in developing a proposed rule establishing objectives, measurable performance standards and criteria for use, consistent with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for species conservation banking.
“We share an interest with the regulated community in introducing greater efficiency and predictability into species conservation banking, while ensuring conservation of our most imperiled fish, wildlife and their habitats,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “We are soliciting public input and feedback on potential approaches to make the establishment and use of species conservation banks more effective and efficient.”
The Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative is about pursuing a collaborative and inclusive approach to conservation.
The Service has a long history of collaboration with other federal and state agencies on oversight of conservation and mitigation banks and other compensatory mitigation projects. The Service’s conservation banking program now comprises more than 160 banks in more than a dozen states covering more than 50 ESA-listed species and conserving more than 250,000 acres.
The Service intends for the proposed rule to focus on conservation banking programs for ESA-listed, proposed and candidate species. It will also clarify the Service’s intent to apply equivalent standards and criteria to all forms of compensatory mitigation, including conservation banks, in-lieu fee programs and permittee-responsible mitigation, for the covered species. The proposed rule will not modify any of the Service’s existing authorities for either recommending or requiring mitigation.
The Service is publishing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit public input and feedback regarding potential approaches to improve conservation banking, as required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021 NDAA). The ANPR will publish in the Federal Register on July 27, 2022, opening a 60-day public comment period until September 26, 2022.
The notice will be available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket Number: Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2021-0137 and will include details on how to submit your comments. The Service will not accept hand-delivered, emailed or faxed comments. We will post all comments on https://www.regulations.gov.
The Service seeks any relevant public comments on the topics related to the proposed rulemaking. Section 329 of the FY 2021 NDAA directs the Service to issue regulations of general applicability establishing objectives, measurable performance standards and criteria for use for species conservation banking programs, consistent with the ESA. The FY 2021 NDAA states that, to the maximum extent practicable, the regulatory standards and criteria shall maximize available credits and opportunities for mitigation, provide flexibility for characteristics of various species and apply equivalent standards and criteria to all mitigation banks.
More information can be found online at: https://www.fws.gov/service/conservation-banking.