New conservation agreement to benefit monarchs

By Laura Bies

Under a new agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will work with partners to conserve monarchs along energy and transportation rights-of-way. ©Laura Perlick, USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, where transportation and energy partners around the country will work with the Service to address monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) conservation needs on millions of acres of rights-of-way and associated lands.

Throughout North America, monarch butterfly populations have seen precipitous declines in recent decades. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that monarchs may warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act and expects to make a final listing decision by June.

A candidate conservation agreement with assurances is an agreement between the USFWS and partners to conserve habitat for at-risk species. In return for their voluntary participation, partners receive assurances that no additional conservation measures will be required if the covered species is ultimately listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Under the new monarch agreement, more than 30 partners — companies in the energy and transportation sectors as well as state departments of transportation — will provide habitat on their lands, while also working to reduce or remove threats to monarchs traditionally caused by ongoing maintenance and modernization activities on rights-of-way. Partners in the agreement include companies and state agencies that manage lands used for electric power generation, transmission and distribution; oil and gas transport; solar energy sites; and transportation.

The Service is taking comments on the proposal until June 14.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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