U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo

SERVICE CREATES ESA LISTING WORKPLAN
By Moosetrack Megan


As part of its ongoing efforts to improve the effectiveness and
implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and provide the best
possible conservation for our nation’s imperiled wildlife, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service released today its National Listing Workplan [1]
for addressing ESA listing and critical habitat decisions over the next
seven years.

This announcement comes as Service biologists wrap up work on a previous
list of more than 250 species that had been identified as candidates for
protection under the ESA. This new workplan will allow the Service to
meet its current and future ESA obligations while creating opportunity
for partnerships aimed at delivering conservation on the ground to keep
working lands working, protect local ways of life and reduce regulatory
burdens, saving the ESA’s protection for the species that need it most.

The workplan identifies the Service’s schedule for addressing all 30
species currently on the ESA Candidate List and conducting 320 status
reviews (also referred to as 12-month findings) for species that have
been petitioned for federal protections under the ESA. The petitioned
species are prioritized using a new methodology [2] for determining how
the agency addresses 12-month findings under the ESA. Each status review
is assigned to one of five priority categories, according to the urgency
of threats, availability of relevant science and information, and
ongoing conservation efforts by states and other stakeholders. The
workplan also includes eleven additional species for which the Service
plans to undertake discretionary status reviews, and one action impacted
by court decisions.

“Our workplan is an achievable, grounded, science-based approach for
conserving America’s most imperiled species that will provide greater
transparency and predictability on our upcoming actions to state
wildlife agencies, non-profit organizations, private landowners and
other partners,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “This predictability
allows many conservation efforts already underway the opportunity they
need to reach their full potential and succeed in recovering species
before they require federal protections.”

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) said the workplan
would assist the conservation efforts and planning processes for state
wildlife agencies across the country.

“This new workplan will bring better certainty to the states as the
Service addresses ESA listings and critical habitat decisions in the
upcoming years,” said Dave Chanda, AFWA President and Director of New
Jersey’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Addressing those species of
greatest concern in the evaluation and prioritization process will help
states best focus on further data collection and the demonstration of
effective state management actions.”

The ESA is the last best hope for America’s most imperiled animals and
plants, but listing is neither the ultimate goal nor a measure of
success. By the time they become listed, some species are facing such an
uphill struggle that recovery can take decades. A better path is to
improve the fate of species before they ever need listing. The Service
hopes that sharing this workplan will spur proactive conservation of
imperiled species so federal protections aren’t needed. Recent successes
by states, federal agencies, private landowners, non-profit
organizations and industry collaborating on behalf of the greater
sage-grouse, Columbia spotted frog, New England cottontail, mariposa
lily, Page springsnail, Cumberland arrow darter, Goose Creek milkvetch
and Yadkin River goldenrod meant these species did not require listing
under the ESA.

The inclusion of a species in the workplan does not mean that it will be
listed under the ESA. That decision is made only after a rigorous
scientific assessment, or status review, of the species. In the event
that a petitioned species does require ESA protections, the Service will
seek to issue a listing proposal instead of adding the species to the
candidate list, and will endeavor to simultaneously propose critical
habitat designations. This represents a balanced, streamlined and
cost-effective process.

The workplan will be updated as new information is received. Additional
species petitions will be addressed based on their urgency and the
Service’s capacity according to the prioritization methodology, with a
forecast maintained of at least five years into the future. This will
provide ongoing transparency and predictability to partners to assist
them in their conservation efforts.

For more information about the National Listing Workplan, visit:
www.fws.gov/endangered/improving_esa/listing_workplan_actions.html [3]

The Endangered Species Act is an essential tool for conserving the
nation’s most at-risk wildlife, as well as the land and water on which
they depend for habitat. The recent acceleration of successful
recoveries and ESA delistings include three Channel Island fox
subspecies, Louisiana black bear, Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel,
Oregon Chub and Virginia northern flying squirrel. These successful
recoveries demonstrate that when given the time and resources it needs,
the ESA works.

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_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
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resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.
For more information on our work and the people who make it happen,
visit www.fws.gov [4]_.

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