Since Ray Wolff and Bruce Scott argue for more state-local-private participation
in endangered species conservation, it should be noted that the federal gov't
(specifically, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service), does engage many stakeholders
in the recovery process. In July of last year, USFWS announced its Safe Harbor
policy which promotes recovery through voluntary conservation actions by
non-federal property owners for listed species; in return, USFWS assures that
future regulatory restrictions will not be imposed. Furthermore, last year and
this year, Congress funded the ESA Landowner Incentive Program, which allows the
USFWS to increase technical and financial assistance for private propery owners
that implement voluntary conservation actions for listed, proposed and candidate
Here's an example of how local participation has kept one imperiled fishh OFF
the Endangered Species List:
Livestock trampling and grazing, exotic fish introductions, water diversions,
and environmental damage due to oil and gas development have confined the once
wide-ranging least chub (Iotichthys phlegethontis) of Utah to just five spring
systems in one small desert area. Wanting to curtail even more declines, the
USFWS proposed listing the fish as endangered in 1995. But Republicans voted on
a moratorium on new listings and withdrew $1.5 million in listing funds,
effectively shutting down work on the least chub proposal.
Fortunately, the moratorium apparently encouraged several parties into
developing their own conservation strategy. By April 1998, seven federal, state,
and tribal organizations had all agreed to pool talents and resources to protect
the least chub. Fences and cattle exclosures were installed around some springs.
Better grazing systems were put into place. Additional least chub habitat was
purchased. And extensive surveys identified three additional populations,
including an introduced population at Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge that
originally was thought to have failed.
Based on these and other conservation measures yet to be implemented, the USFWS
found that federal protective status was NOT necessary, and withdrew its
proposal to list the least chub as an endangered species in 1999.
Of course, not everyone was happy with the decision. Peter Galvin, a
conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, a legal
advocate for endangered species, said that conservation agreements such as the
one drawn up for the least chub are "feel-good" efforts that "lack teeth"
because they do not legally guarantee the kind of long-term protection an
imperiled species needs in order to survive.
Time, of course, and ongoing surveys, will tell if the least chub needs a lawyer
-- and increased federal intervention -- to keep from going extinct!
It should be noted, however, that taxa that live in springs and other isolated
habitats are often easier to protect at the local level. A fish like the pallid
sturgeon, however, which lives in the Mississippi River drainage from Montant to
Louisiana and inhabits different states depending on its age and life cycle
stage, is much more difficult to protect.
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