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New FWS Conservation Credit System Open for Comment

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Declining species such as the Greater sage-grouse could benefit from the new FWS policy that incentivizes conservation action through an innovative credit system. (Credit: Steve Fairbairn)


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is accepting comments on a draft policy designed to reward private landowners for helping to conserve declining species.

The proposed policy would grant credits to landowners and other government entities for performing “pre-listing” conservation actions – such as preserving or enhancing habitat – for species that are on their way towards endangered or threatened status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

FWS and conservation groups tout the policy because it focuses on prevention as opposed to recovery, a much less expensive and time-consuming endeavor.

The policy requires that any pre-listing action must not only be voluntary, but part of a state-administered program to ensure that conservation actions are tailored for local conditions.

Credits can be used to offset future activities that may have negative impacts on the environment. For example, a landowner could preserve native grassland habitat in one area to build a road in another, as long as the benefit to the species outweighs the harm. In a nod to free-market economics, the credits can also be sold to third-party brokers.

FWS believes that by creating an incentive, landowners will invest in these declining species — a win-win for conservation and landowners.

FWS is looking for input from interested parties. To add your comments, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS-R9-ES-2011-0099. Or, send comment by hard copy to Attn: Docket No. FWS-R9-ES-2011-0099; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, PDM-20142; Arlington, VA 22203. Comments will be accepted until September 22, 2014.

Sources: Energy and Environment News (July 17, 2014), Federal Register (July 22, 2014)



This article was automatically imported from The Wildlife Society's policy news feed.


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