July 27, 2020

Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances: The Next Great Tool for Win-Win Conservation

Galen Schuler, Greg Corbin, and Lawson Fite

Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) are a tool that enables landowners to enter into binding conservation agreements regarding species being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These agreements can be factored into the analysis done by the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) or National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS; collectively the Services) to determine if a species should be listed, and robust CCAAs can provide justification to avoid the burden of a listing while ensuring future conservation. We are only now beginning to unlock the potential for use of CCAAs as a conservation tool. And, in what might prove to be a watershed event for CCAAs, the FWS’s announcement of its May 2020 decision not to list Pacific fisher populations in Northern California and Southern Oregon recognized that the “heavy lifting” done by CCAAs in that situation “greatly alleviates the need for regulation.” Press Release, FWS Sw. Region, Celebrating Conservation: Partners Finalize Plans to Protect Pacific Fisher (May 14, 2020).

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