Obama Administration Adds New Tools to the Endangered Species Act Toolbox

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service writes habitat exchanges into draft compensatory mitigation policy

September 1, 2016
Chandler Clay, (202) 572-3312, cclay@edf.org

(WASHINGTON – September 1, 2016) The Obama Administration, building upon its environmental legacy, announced a number of conservation-focused actions at yesterday’s Lake Tahoe Summit.

Among these actions was the release of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s draft compensatory mitigation policy, which aims to address the impacts of development on the nation’s most at-risk species. The policy is the first comprehensive treatment of compensatory mitigation under authority of the Endangered Species Act to be issued by the Service, and it includes habitat exchanges – a program pioneered by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and partners – among the preferred mitigation solutions.

The following is a statement by Eric Holst, associate vice president of working lands at EDF:

“This has been a great week for America’s wildlife.

“On Tuesday, the State of Nevada and the U.S. Department of the Interior signed an agreement with Newmont Mining Company to protect 1.5 million acres of sagebrush habitat through the Nevada Conservation Credit System, a type of habitat exchange program. It’s a hugely significant commitment that will protect vital habitat for at-risk wildlife like the iconic western greater sage-grouse, mule deer and pronghorn. The Service’s draft mitigation policy announced yesterday will make more of these partnerships possible, with new tools available in the conservation toolbox.

By adding habitat exchanges to the suite of preferred mitigation solutions, the Service is providing a foundational step to unleash the untapped potential of America’s working lands – its farms, ranches and forests – to reverse habitat loss and stop the extinction crisis.

“Habitat exchanges will help transform mitigation dollars into on-the-ground success, ultimately allowing both wildlife and the economy to flourish. These new tools and policies will ensure that this Administration’s vision for a sustainable future becomes a reality, leaving a lasting legacy that will allow people and nature to prosper.”

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