USFWS landowner agreements for at-risk species under review

By Kaitlyn Miller

©Jim Brandenburg/USFWS Midwest

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced a review of both the policy and accompanying regulations surrounding the Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA) program.

CCAAs are a specific form of Candidate Conservation Agreement, which is a voluntary agreement between USFWS and public or private entities that addresses the conservation needs of at-risk species proposed for listing, published as a candidate for listing, or likely to become a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

CCAAs provide additional guarantees to landowners to address concerns that having an at-risk species on their land could result in additional regulations and restrictions if that species were to be listed under the ESA. These agreements provide landowners with assurances that if they implement certain agreed upon conservation activities they will not be subject to additional restrictions if the species is listed.

The policy and regulations under review are of revisions made in 2016 that attempted to clarify the end results that the government should be seeking from landowners before entering into the agreement.

The 2016 finalized language required that efforts taken under CCAAs provide a “net conservation benefit” to the species. Previous language required that measures implemented, “when combined with those benefits that would be achieved if it assumed that conservation measures were also to be implemented on other necessary properties, would preclude or remove any need to list the covered species.”

Feedback on this language change has been mixed, Service officials say, with some considering it more restrictive than the prior language, and others considering it less so.

To comment on the possible policy and regulation revisions visit

Kaitlyn Miller is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Wildlife Policy and Programs team. Read more of Kaitlyn's articles here.