FWS announces new guidance on recovery crediting
73 Fed. Reg. 44761 (Thursday, July 31, 2008)(DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Recovery Crediting Guidance; Notice of availability).
The concept of recovery credits was developed in Texas to allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to receive credit for recovery measures being implemented by Fort Hood Military Reservation. Fort Hood, which is home to the largest known population of the endangered golden-cheeked warbler within its breeding range, carries out recovery measures with neighboring landowners in an effort to offset adverse effects that may result from future onbase military readiness activities. Photo from City of Austin, Texas.. See Nature Conservancy article.
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of guidance to promote implementation of the Endangered Species Act. The guidance describes a crediting framework for Federal agencies in carrying out recovery measures for threatened and endangered species. The text of the guidance is included in this notice. Under the guidance, Federal agencies may show how adverse effects of agency activities to a listed species are offset by beneficial effects of actions taken elsewhere for that species. The combined effects of the adverse and beneficial actions must provide a net benefit to the recovery of the species. ADDRESSES: The guidance may be downloaded from our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/policy/june.2008.html.
EXCERPT FROM GUIDANCE: Recovery crediting is an optional process for Federal agencies to use their authorities to further the conservation of listed species. Recovery credits can provide an additional means of implementing ‘‘conservation measures,’’ commonly offered by Federal agencies to offset effects to listed species resulting from Federal actions. As noted in the Service’s Consultation Handbook, ‘‘When used in the context of the Act, ‘conservation measures’ represent actions pledged in the project description that the action agency or applicant will implement to further the recovery of the species under review... C. What Is a Recovery Credit? A recovery credit is a quantifiable unit of measure recognized by the Service representing a contribution to the recovery of a species listed under the ESA. For example, in its simplest form, one credit could equal a specified number of acres of habitat, the acreage necessary to support one nest of the target species, or a specified number of acre-feet of water secured. Recovery credits should be based on a commitment to implement recovery actions outlined in a particular species’ recovery plan or alternative Service approved document. Each recovery credit, therefore, may be considered to be part of recovery implementation leading towards the downlisting or delisting goals of a threatened or endangered species, taking into account the debits that have occurred. An RCS is a specific program established to implement recovery actions on non-Federal lands for specific species while creating a ‘‘bank’’ of credits that a Federal agency may use to offset the effects of its actions. That is, the Federal agency may develop and store credits to be used at a later time to offset particular adverse effects of its actions. The overall system must provide a net benefit to recovery for covered species.