- What is it?
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA; 7 U.S.C. § 136, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.) was enacted to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a "consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation." The ESA is administered by two federal agencies, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION’S NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE (NMFS). 50 CFR Part 21.12(d) & 22.
- What has the Army done?
The Army collects data annually on species that are listed as endangered, threatened, or candidate species under the ESA, as well as other federally-protected and at-risk species found on and adjacent to installations around the world. Data are provided directly by natural resources managers and wildlife biologists at the installations, validated, and sent to higher headquarters for reporting and budgeting purposes.
The USAEC Conservation Branch provides technical support and guidance to installations and Army Commands regarding ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (ESA), MIGRATORY BIRD TREATY ACT (MBTA) and BALD AND GOLDEN EAGLE PROTECTION ACT (BGEPA) consultation, permitting, and compliance requirements. We also monitor the Federal Register and coordinate with the Installation Management Command (IMCOM) Headquarters Environmental Division and the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCS), G-9 team on regulatory changes that may impact Army policies, mission activities, or installation programs.
- What does the Army have planned, and why is it important?
A new online tool (the Environmental Quality Universal Information Portal) has been established by DCS G-9 for collection of data on protected species and other Army environmental data, and there are ongoing efforts to improve efficiency and use of spatial data to enable rapid assessments of potential impacts when new training requirements emerge. Access to current data also allows resource managers and wildlife biologists to provide sound recommendations based on the best available science to decision makers.
Open communication channels and quality data at all levels in the Army ensures that training events, facilities construction / repairs, and ongoing natural resources management activities are compliant with applicable regulations. This minimizes or eliminates potential delays and risk of fines.
The NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS), a Department of Agriculture agency, has provided conservation planning assistance since 1933. The agency's technical specialists assist land managers in areas such as reclamation, soils, biology, engineering, range management, agronomy, water quality and plant materials. NRCS assistance to the Army includes ecosystem planning, soil surveys, erosion inventories, watershed surveys, land restoration (using plant materials) and sediment reduction on range, training and maneuver areas. NRCS specialists also design, implement and oversee construction of erosion-control systems ranging from small stream crossings to installation-wide land rehabilitation and maintenance plans. Installations may work directly with NRCS field offices or arrange for on-site placement of an NRCS specialist.
The U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE (USFWS), is a bureau within the Department of the Interior that monitors and protects wildlife and their habitats. Army installations with natural resources present develop Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans (INRMPs) in coordination with their local USFWS field offices and state wildlife management agencies. INRMPs are signed by Garrison Commanders and representatives from USFWS and state agencies. They consolidate all natural resource management, threatened and endangered species monitoring / stewardship, outdoor recreation, and related program activities into a single document that details projects and budgets over five years. Army natural resources managers also lead informal and formal consultations with USFWS under section 7 of the ESA whenever a proposed action may affect a listed species. In certain cases, USFWS issues a Biological Opinion that details protective measures that will minimize impacts to the species.
The U.S. FOREST SERVICE (USFS), a Department of Agriculture agency, is responsible for conserving national forests and grasslands, and assists in the stewardship of forests that other federal, state and private landowners manage. USFS provides quality natural and cultural resource management expertise and assistance to the Army through interagency agreements. Support assistance with prescribed fire and fire suppression, forest inventories and timber sale preparation, access road and firebreak design, stream and riparian area restoration, fish and wildlife habitat management, cantonment forestry, integrated pest management and outdoor recreation opportunities. Several national forests provide mission-essential land to the Army through special-use permits.
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