BLM Recovers Endangered Species: Highlighted in Defenders of Wildlife Endangered Species Act Policy White Paper Series
Bureau: Bureau of Land Management
The year 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act – for the Bureau of Land Management, it was a banner year showcasing a successful BLM initiative that is working to meet the expectation that federal agencies will protect and recover endangered species.
Three years ago, the BLM launched The Endangered Species Recovery Fund to focus on federally listed or candidate species that have the potential to recover within two to five years. This new targeted approach has achieved some significant goals in a short amount of time.
Take for example the Inyo California Towhee, which was aided through BLM funding. Wild burros and recreational and military activities had degraded the dense riparian habitat needed by the small desert bird found in the Mohave Desert. The BLM and Department of Defense fenced riparian areas and BLM reduced occupation by burros. Recent BLM surveys confirmed that the population, thought to be 175 when listed in 1987, has steadily increased and stabilized at around 700, well above the recovery criteria of 400. On Nov. 1, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed delisting the species.
The USFWS withdrew its proposal to list the Coral Pink Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle in October 2013 due in part to BLM efforts funded by the Recovery Fund. This beetle only lives at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes in southern Utah; its closest related subspecies is 378 miles away. The decision not to list the species was largely the result of special conservation efforts undertaken or planned by the BLM and Utah State Parks to improve, protect and monitor beetle habitat. A 2013 agreement also increased the size of the conservation areas and added new habitat patches to support dispersal of beetles between conservation areas.
A small fish also has benefited from the BLM's Recovery Fund. The Borax Lake Chub is a tiny olive green minnow found only in the isolated, geothermally heated Borax Lake in southeastern Oregon. Listed as endangered in 1982, the minnow was threatened by drilling for geothermal energy development. Additional threats included off-highway vehicle use, the introduction of non-native species, and livestock grazing. The Endangered Species Recovery Fund helped the BLM and its partners fence the area in 2010. In addition, the Nature Conservancy bought and protected some of the species' critical habitat; the BLM designated the rest as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and has withdrawn most of the area from mineral and geothermal development. As a result, the species has rebounded from an average of 14,000 fish (2005 – 2010) to more than 26,571 in 2011. In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended the species for downlisting from endangered to threatened. Today, continued support from the BLM and other partners is helping this rare minnow make a comeback.
Another dramatic success story is found in a Utah species that was on the brink of extinction before it was listed as endangered in 1985 when only seven plants were known to exist. The USFWS delisted Utah's Maguire daisy in 2011. Although it took years of collaborative conservation work on the part of many players, the documentation that would support its removal from the list was made possible in part by BLM-funded surveys which are ongoing as part of a required long-term monitoring plan for the species.
Each year, the BLM's Endangered Species Recovery Fund has competitively allocated up to $1.4 million for target species nearing recovery. The BLM is now reaching out to other federal agencies in an effort to expand the fight for these listed and candidate species.
In the past three years, the BLM's Recovery Fund has supported projects totaling about $4 million to benefit more than 40 federally designated species. This is only a fraction of BLM's total expenditure of more than $75 million in three years for all listed and candidate species on public lands. But it is making a big difference.
The BLM's Recovery Fund initiative is highlighted now as a case study in the Defenders of Wildlife Endangered Species Act Policy White Paper Series. On the topic of Endangered Species Recovery, they identify BLM's Recovery Fund as one of three initiatives successfully promoting pragmatic and innovative solutions in meeting recovery goals and ultimately relieving the imperilment of federally listed species.
CLICK HERE to read the new white paper, "Aiming to Succeed: Targeting funds to enhance endangered species recovery."
Submitted by: BLM Public Affairs
April 11, 2014