Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries seek public input for imperiled species

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A pair of federal agencies hope to work with the public in improving conservation efforts of potentially endangered species, hoping to expand the group of stakeholders invested in protecting various fish and marine life from disappearing altogether.

Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries announced they are working together to “engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and protect imperiled species, even before they are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).”

Both agencies hope to receive public input on a planned action, in a Federal Register notice published Nov. 22 stated, by Jan. 22, 2018.

Members of the public and various stakeholders can assist federal officials through the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Candidate Conservation program, which encourages the voluntary development and implementation of conservation agreements for declining species before they become listed under the ESA.

Non-federal property owners who participate in the program – also known as Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances, or CCAA – would agree to reduce or altogether eliminate threats to declining species.

“Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances are designed to provide an incentive to landowners to implement specific conservation measures for declining species that are not currently listed under the ESA,” Fish and Wildlife staff said in a released statement. “To participate in a CCAA, non-federal property owners can voluntarily implement specific conservation measures that reduce or eliminate threats on their land to species covered under the agreement.

“In return, they receive assurances that they will not be required to undertake any additional conservation measures nor be subject to additional resource use or land use restrictions, even if the species becomes listed under the ESA,” Fish and Wildlife staff continued.

Policy revisions to the CCAA and other regulations could be in store, depending upon public input.

Members of the public could provide input at the federal eRulemaking portal, regulations.gov; the docket number is FWS-HQ-ES-2017-0074. Input could also be provided by U.S. mail or hand-delivery Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-HQ-ES-2017-0074] or [FWS-HQ-ES-2017-0075], 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 by or before Jan. 22, 2018.

Visit https://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/ccaa-policy.html for more information.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service photo

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