Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Recovery Program: Endangered and Threatened Species, 1994
The Director of the Service has delegated responsibility for recovery of listed species to the Service's seven Regional Directors across the nation. Each listed species is the responsibility of at least one Region. When the distribution of a species crosses regional boundaries, the lead Region coordinates decisions regarding the species among other appropriate Regions. Regional Directors determine whether recovery plans are needed, ensure that recovery plans are developed, appoint recovery team members, and direct recovery plan implementation. The boundaries of Service's Regions and the location of Regional Offices are illustrated on Map 1.
Examples of Recovery Activities
The tools available for recovery of listed species are numerous and may include reintroduction of species into formerly occupied habitat, land acquisition, captive propagation, habitat restoration and protection, population assessments, research, and technical assistance for landowners and public education. All of these activities and associated efforts must allow time for an endangered species to respond biologically to protective efforts implemented on its behalf. Recovery activities conducted by the Service and its partners include: defining threats through research on biological requirements, managing threats through habitat protection and restoration, and achieving a stable or upward population trend for an endangered species.
The following examples illustrate the variety of recovery efforts conducted by the Service and recovery partners:
- the Aleutian Canada goose has benefitted from both habitat restoration and reintroduction into formerly occupied habitat;
- translocation of young bald eagles into formerly occupied habitat is one factor contributing significantly to bald eagle recovery;
- captive propagation has increased the numbers of the California condor and the red wolf;
- research on Peter's Mountain mallow, which revealed that the seeds require fire to germinate, has resulted in controlled burns that have dramatically increased the species' numbers;
- education efforts on behalf of the furbish lousewort have resulted in an enhanced conservation ethic, and conservation easements are being pursued for its habitat; and
- land acquisition and cooperation among the Service, National Aeronautics Space Administration, the National Park Service, private conservation foundations, and the State of Florida has made a major contribution to the recovery of the Florida scrub jay.
Cooperation with Others
Although Congress envisioned the Service as the leader in recovery of listed species, it recognized the role other Federal agencies, States, and private citizens should play. Recent examples of enhanced cooperation among Federal agencies include the January 1994 Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Forest Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service on behalf of candidates for listing as threatened or endangered under the Act.
Candidate species conservation may reduce threats so that listing is no longer necessary, or reduce time and resources needed to achieve recovery once a species is listed. In September 1994, the Service and 13 other Federal agencies signed a second Memorandum of Understanding pledging cooperation toward the common goal of conserving listed species by protecting and managing their populations and the ecosystems upon which they depend.
The Federal Native Plant Conservation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (established May 25, 1994) has been signed by nine agencies in three Federal departments (Department of Defense, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Biological Service, National Park Service, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Agricultural Research Service, Forest Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service). The MOU's purpose is to ensure that native plant species and communities are maintained, enhanced, restored, or established on public lands, and that such activities are promoted on private lands. The MOU established the Federal Native Plant Conservation Committee to identify priority conservation needs for native plants and their habitats and coordinate implementation of programs for addressing those needs. Currently, 47 non-federal organizations have signed on as Cooperators to the Committee.
The MOU notes that plants constitute over half of the listed species in the United States, and that over 200 listed plants occur on Federal lands. As stated in the MOU, "Careful management of these lands can help maintain our Nation's plant heritage. Federal agencies also have the expertise to assist non-Federal land managers in plant conservation and protection efforts. Innovative partnerships are needed among public and private sectors... to conserve native plants and their habitats....', The 56 member and Cooperator agencies and organizations on the Committee form an ideal national partnership to promote plant recovery efforts.
This Committee is building partnerships, developing a strategic plan, coordinating regional and national working groups to address conservation actions, developing databases and information exchange networks, and coordinating education and public outreach opportunities. The overall goal is to mobilize agencies and organizations across the Nation into a cohesive force to support local and national habitat conservation efforts for plants, much as the Partners in Flight program is doing for neotropical migratory birds. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (on behalf of the Committee) has awarded the Bureau of Land Management a $100,000 challenge grant to fund urgent conservation projects to benefit at-risk plant species and communities. These projects demonstrate the ability of the partner-ships to deliver on-the-ground results, including recovery of listed plant species.
The Partners in Flight program, which includes about 90 signatories from Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and industry, focusses attention on high priority species and ecosystems that can benefit both listed and candidate bird species. Partners in Flight has directed several projects towards restoring and managing western riparian habitats. Restoring the habitat not only benefits the Southwestern willow flycatcher, but numerous other threatened species as well. Alliances like these can minimize the need to list species under the Act, since the threats to their continued existence can be alleviated before the species status becomes critical. The Service actively pursues partnerships with other Federal and State agencies, private organizations, and individuals. Examples include:
- Cheat Mountain salamander: Three quarters of the populations identified as necessary for recovery of the Cheat Mountain salamander are protected and managed through the cooperative efforts of the State of West Virginia, the Service, and the Forest Service.
- Mexican wolf: By the mid-1900s, the Mexican wolf had been completely eliminated from a portion of its historic range, the Southeast quadrant of Arizona. In the 1970s, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson received four animals and launched a captive breeding program. By 1994, there were 92 animals, comprising 78 in 16 different United States facilities and 14 in 5 Mexican facilities.
- Pahrump poolfish: The Pahrump poolfish was listed as endangered in 1967. The primary threat has been the loss of springs due to a decline in underground water table levels. While poolfish no longer only occur in their historic location, Manse Spring, recovery efforts by Federal agencies, Nevada's State agencies, and university biologists have established secure populations in three other Nevada springs.
- Small whorled pogonia: Residential and commercial development has been the primary threat to the small whorled pogonia. But since the plant's listing, State and municipal conservation efforts and significant private landowner contributions have afforded permanent protection for the largest known population of this plant. Recovery successes have allowed it to be reclassified as threatened.
- Western prairie fringed orchid: Site protection through voluntary landowner agreements and other State efforts to protect and restore this species on State and private lands have helped to arrest the decline of this flower and stabilize its populations.
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