In Portland, Oregon, we brought together business people, timber workers, and environmentalists from throughout the Northwest to discuss how best to preserve jobs and to protect the old-growth forests and the species which inhabit them. People sat down in a conference room not a courtroom.
President Bill Clinton
Ecosystems are complex entities. Each ecosystem comprises interdependent, interacting biotic and abiotic components which are linked by the transfer of energy, materials, and information. Sustainability of any ecosystem depends on maintained conditions or on the resilience of organisms within changing conditions. What differs among ecosystems is the amount of solar energy, in the form of food and heat, and water available for microbiota, plants, and animals in the system. Conditions vary around the globe, and microbiota, plants, and animals evolve and adapt to diverse, specific environments. Adaptation allows for the diverse biota found in given sets of conditions. As conditions change or become disrupted, habitats change. Biota often cannot evolve rapidly enough or adapt sufficiently to keep up with change. The result can be impaired biodiversity.
The link between an ecosystem approach to management and biodiversity was evident in 1993 at the President's Forest Conference. The controversy involved timber harvests in old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, habitat degradation, and resulting impacts on native plants and animals, among them the northern spotted owl and the region's famed salmon species. The President convened the conference to seek an economic-ecological solution. Resolution will depend ultimately on a forest plan that assures the survival of the old-growth ecosystem, a plan that will -keep all of the pieces,- as the forester-wildlife biologist Aldo Leopold once cautioned.
In September 1993 the National Performance Review recommended that the President issue a directive establishing a national policy to encourage sustainable development through ecosystem management. This could best be accomplished, the NPR report concluded, by a cross-agency ecosystem approach to planning in coordination with state, local, and tribal governments. The report called for an Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force to select demonstration projects on ecosystem assessment and ecosystem management funded by cross-agency budgets. The Task Force was to determine lead agencies and appoint interagency multidisciplinary ecosystem management teams to develop an assessment framework and protocols and management plans for ecosystem sustainability.
Ecosystem Approach to Management
Late in 1993 the Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force was constituted and adopted the following working goal:
To restore and maintain the health, sustainability, and biological diversity of ecosystems while supporting communities and their economic base.
Chaired by the director of the White House Office on Environmental Policy, the Task Force is made up of assistant secretaries from 12 departments and agencies, as well as representatives of the Office of Management and Budget, Council on Environmental Quality, and Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force has agreed on the following definitions:
. An ecosystem is an interconnected community of living things, including humans, and the physical environment with which they interact.
. Ecosystem management is an approach to restoring and sustaining healthy ecosystems and their functions and values. It is based on a collaboratively developed vision of desired future ecosystem conditions that integrates ecological, economic, and social factors affecting a management unit defined by ecological, not political boundaries.
. Biodiversity refers to the diversity of life: species, their genetic structural, behavioral, and functional variability and the communities and ecosystems of which they are comprised. Human interaction, biodiversity, and ecosystem dynamics are highly integrated, with components of biodiversity making up the dynamic elements expressed through ecosystem processes.
Conditions and Trends
The United States varies in physical, biological, and climatological features from mountains to coastal plains, from forests to grasslands, from wetlands to deserts. Across this heterogeneous landscape, living organisms and their physical environment-earth, water, and atmosphere-are related, interacting upon each other so that the flow of energy leads to trophic structure, such as food chains or webs; biodiversity; and elemental cycles-the exchange of materials between living and nonliving parts. This landscape provides suitable habitat for plants and animals, produces food and fiber, yields mineral, energy, and water resources, provides for recreational and wilderness experiences, and contributes to the global climate.
Public concern about the environment, together with new thinking by scientists and resource managers, has led to a new management philosophy. This philosophy says that we can manage resources to sustain their full array of values and uses through a broader understanding of their associated ecosystems. This new thinking calls for a shift of focus from the more traditional single-resource, single-species management approach to one based on a holistic view of natural and managed ecosystems. This approach requires knowledge of the composition, structure, and function of ecosystems, their relationships and influences on each other, and their capacity to support multiple uses and to produce goods and services without sacrificing health, sustainability, or biodiversity.
The Human Dimension
Humanity is a relatively new but dynamic component in earth ecosystems. Restoration and protection of both natural and managed ecosystems require an ecological perspective that also considers the human components of ecosystems. The need for this type of perspective is simple. Continued growth in human populations and increases in their production, use, and disposal of resources are not matched by corresponding growth in the resource base available to meet those demands under traditional management approaches. These issues can be translated into several basic reasons for exploring ecosystem management:
. People need and want a wider array of uses, values, products, and services from a finite resource base than in the past, especially, but not limited to, the amenity values and environmental services of healthy, diverse lands and waters;
. New information and a better understanding of ecological processes highlight the role of biodiversity as a factor in sustaining the health and productivity of ecosystems and the need for integrated ecological information at various spatial and temporal scales to improve management;
. Public awareness and concern for natural resources and for national and global environmental issues is increasing;
. People want more direct involvement in the process of making decisions about public resources; and
. The complexity and uncertainty of natural resources management call for stronger teamwork between scientists and resource managers than heretofore has been practiced.
Ecosystem management, as the term is used by the Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force, recognizes human needs and the importance of developing a vision that integrates ecological, economic, and social factors. It involves a recognition of the interrelationship of a healthy economy and a healthy environment, and it focuses on policies that foster both a sustainable economy and a sustainable ecosystem. In short it employs an economically based, environmentally responsible approach to resource management.
Principles and Guidelines for Ecosystem Management
As an initial step in communicating the requirements of an ecosystem approach, the Task Force identified guiding principles for ecosystem management:
. Is aimed at restoring and/or maintaining the health, sustainability, and native biological diversity of ecosystems;
. Involves management decisions based on considerations of ecologic units and time frames-generally broader geographic views, and longer-term time frames-that allow for considerations of cumulative effects;
. Supports sustainable economies by meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs;
. Requires a vision of what constitutes sustainable health and biodiversity for an ecosystem, in collaboration with all interested parties;
. Requires a mechanism for setting priorities among objectives, and for identifying and reconciling conflicts;
. Develops coordinated, partnership approaches, in which federal agencies develop implementation strategies collaboratively with all interested parties on a voluntary basis, assist interested communities, design plans and budgets to meet the goals, prevent duplication of effort, and create efficiencies;
. Relies on the best available scientific understanding of ecosystem composition, structure, and function, and related human socioeconomic dynamics;
. Uses specific, measurable benchmarks to monitor and evaluate outcomes;
. Employs adaptive management, learning from successes and failures and allowing management flexibility to respond to new information; and
. Provides that goals for the desired range of future conditions in an ecosystem be developed through an understanding of past ecosystem conditions; that it be achieved through adjustment and implementation of legally mandated agency activities, along with state, local, and private sector efforts.
In late 1993 the Task Force formed an interagency working group to assist in its work, to conduct case studies, and to develop a report on implementing an ecosystem approach.
Coordinated and Adaptive Approaches to Ecosystem Management
Elaborating on the principle for a coordinated approach to ecosystem management, the Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force recommends the following actions for federal agencies:
. Jointly develop ecosystem management strategies for federally managed lands and programs;
. Seek to catalyze collaborative efforts with state, tribal, and local governments, nongovernment entities, private landowners, and the public, to achieve desired future conditions for the ecosystem;
. Actively assist interested communities to anticipate changing environmental and economic conditions and facilitate resolution of potential resource conflicts where requested;
. Incorporate ecosystem management goals into strategic, financial, and program planning and design budgets to meet the goals and objectives of the ecosystem management implementation strategy; and
. Actively seek to prevent undesirable duplication of effort, minimize inconsistencies, and create efficiencies in programs affecting ecosystems.
Regarding adaptive management, the Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force recommends that, based on periodic reviews of implementation, federal agencies should make adjustments to the standards and guidelines applicable to management activities affecting ecosystems. For example federal agencies should try to institutionalize flexibility in management practices so that they can accommodate the evolution of scientific understanding of ecosystems. They should review ongoing interagency activities and institutional structures in the ecosystem, to modify them if they are a deterrent to interagency ecosystem management and to discontinue them if they are no longer needed.
The United States is moving forward with an ecosystem approach to management that will be scientifically sound, ecologically based, and totally integrated. This approach has many elements in common with sustainable development, sustainable management, sustainable agriculture or forestry, and a number of other terms being used to identify an ecological approach to land and aquatic resource management.
In 1993 ecosystems received a good deal of media attention, particularly in the Florida Everglades and the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. The President has committed his Administration to resolving the conflict between timber and environmental interests in the Pacific Northwest. In Florida an ecosystem approach was the only way to restore water to the endangered Everglades and declining Florida Bay. The Congressional Research Service has compiled a compendium of ecosystem management activities at 19 federal departments and agencies. Examples include Forest Service efforts to conserve the karst ecosystem in Alaska, the multiagency Man and the Biosphere Cooperative applying ecosystem management in the Southern Appalachians, and activities such as TVA river action teams that develop public-private partnerships to address water quality on a watershed basis.
Pacific Northwest Forest Ecosystem Plan
On July 1, 1993, the President selected his preferred option for the Pacific Northwest Forest Ecosystem Plan to resolve what the nation has come to be known as the Spotted Owl controversy. The plan appeared three months after the April 1993 Forest Conference in Portland, Oregon. The conference set the stage for a plan to ensure sustainable ecosystems and a sustainable economy.
Following the conference the President assembled a Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team to review the biological information and develop management options. Comprising 150 scientists and resource professionals from federal agencies and academia, the team received its charge from the President to develop -a scientifically sound, ecologically credible, legally responsible basis for managing the federal forests of the Pacific Northwest and northern California.- From ten alternatives presented to him by the team, the President selected the watershed-based option as the foundation for his proposed plan, which includes the following points:
Ecosystem Management. Planning and monitoring levels would be established for managing the old-growth ecosystem at regions, smaller ecological provinces, and individual watersheds.
Old Growth Reserves. A complex of late-successional (old-growth) reserves, riparian reserves, Adaptive Management Areas, and a forest management matrix would be created across the 24 million acres of federal forestland in the northern spotted owl region.
. Late-Successional Reserves. Following watershed boundaries, 7.05 million acres of the most valuable old-growth forests would be set aside in reserves. Some thinning and limited salvage that support or are neutral to old growth or to the values of reserves would be allowed. Conservation areas would be designated to protect specific wildlife species.
. Riparian Reserves. On 2.23 million acres, buffers would be provided along streams.
. Adaptive Management Areas. Ten areas ranging from 78,000- 380,000 acres would be designated for intensive ecological experimentation and social innovation to develop and demonstrate new ways to integrate ecological and economic objectives and to allow for local involvement in defining the future use of the land.
. Matrix. On 6.35 million acres, forest management would be allowed according to prescriptions based on geographic area.
Timber Sales. The plan provides for a sustainable timber harvest in the old-growth ecosystem (for a discussion of timber sales on public lands in the Pacific Northwest, see Chapter 5: Public Lands and Federal Facilities).
Labor and Community Assistance Work Group. In formulating various options, the President received recommendations from a Labor and Community Assistance Work Group that identified ways to help affected communities and individuals and from an Agency Coordination Work Group that identified ways to improve communication and coordination among the agencies involved in ecosystem management.
Supplemental EIS. The President called on his Administration and Cabinet members to fully comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and proceed with a supplemental environmental impact statement for current and proposed forest and timber management plans of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
Threatened and Endangered Species. The economic and ecological challenges of the Pacific Northwest extend beyond the logging/spotted owl debate to such problems as reduced salmon runs in coastal streams and in the Colombia River System and the listing of salmon species as threatened or endangered. Solving these problems requires the cooperation of divergent, even competitive, interests: public, tribal, and private lands; public dams and private dams; commercial harvest, sports fishing, tribal fishing and other treaty rights; public and private power; ranchers and farmers using public lands and public water distribution systems; developers and environmentalists. The human component-how people live, work, and play in an ecosystem - cannot be ignored.
Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Plan
One of the nation's best known and treasured ecological systems, the Everglades, continues to suffer severe habitat and water quality degradation largely because of human activities. In June 1993 the Secretary of the Interior initiated an effort by federal, state, and local government agencies, private groups, and individuals to restore the Florida Everglades ecosystem. Significant alteration of the natural water flow through the construction of levees and diversions of naturally flowing water coupled with nutrient loadings associated with agriculture have taken a heavy toll. The increase in the number of species listed and proposed for listing as endangered, human health advisories for consumption of all freshwater fish, and an invasion of exotic species provide telling evidence of the degrading condition of the ecosystem.
The Everglades ecosystem is a vast wetlands whose watershed begins in the headwaters of the Kissimmee River and extends South through Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades proper, ending in Florida Bay. This wetlands once stretched 100 miles from the southern end of Lake Okeechobee to the tidal estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay. Today the ecosystem has a much-altered water regime, subject to flood control and irrigation efforts, etched with canals, and replete with pumps that shunt water to the east and west coasts of Florida or redirect it for irrigation. Over the years water managers have taken these actions:
. Channelized the Kissimmee River;
. Ringed Lake Okeechobee with a levee that prevents it from overflowing and nourishing the Everglades wetlands system; and
. Converted 700,000 acres south of the lake to the Everglades Agricultural Area, which divides the original hydrologic regime into two poorly connected watersheds.
Over the years, the Everglades received too little water, at the wrong times, in the wrong places, and the water it got was laden with nutrients, pesticides, and mercury. Since the turn of the century, drainage has lowered water levels in the Everglades by as much as six feet. The aquatic food chain has collapsed; the population of wading birds has fallen 90 percent; species have become endangered and threatened; and Florida Bay, the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary with its coral reefs, and coastal estuaries are declining at an accelerated rate.
The DOI took the lead in developing closer working relationships with the federal and state agencies that affect, or are affected by, various restoration programs. The DOI's efforts to bring together the varied interests in this large ecosystem have resulted in a federal task force, passage of Florida's Everglades Forever Act which provides for an extensive restoration plan, and establishment of the Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida, all working together to restore the Everglades ecosystem. Federal, state, and county governments, along with individual farmers have all been involved in the restoration effort. The activities and projects of these entities are gaining the coordination and focus they lacked in the past.
One of the major actions underway is a $670-million Corps of Engineers ($256 million Federal and $414 million non-Federal) restoration project to reconnect the Kissimmee River with its natural floodplain. Once completed this restoration will result in significant ecological benefits. Wetland acres will be restored by 27,000 acres, and habitat values within the floodplain will be restored and enhanced for over 300 fish and wildlife species.
Solid science supported by monitoring and assessment and the cooperation of federal, state, and local agencies along with private concerns are essential to solve an ecosystem crisis on the scale of the Everglades. In November 1993 preliminary federal objectives for the restoration were developed by an interagency scientific task force.
Karst Ecosystem Management Plan
The Tongass National Forest consists of over 1,800 square miles of limestone and marble in Southeastern Alaska. A karst ecosystem of mature spruce and hemlock forests and productive terrestrial and aquatic communities has developed over much of the area. The karst landscape is also characterized by well-developed subsurface drainage and vast and complex cave systems. The deepest natural limestone shaft in the United States occurs in the Ketchikan Area of the Tongass. Paleontological finds in the cave networks date to 44,500 years before present. Human use of the caves spans the last 4,500 years.
Approximately 70 percent of the commercial forestland on karst has been harvested to meet requirements of 50-year timber sale contracts. Timber harvesting operations have clogged some karst features and caves with sediment and logging debris, and the hydrology and geochemistry of subterranean karst streams have been altered, flooding once dry cave systems, creating surface streams where none existed, and dissolving fragile speleothems.
The Forest Service is integrating current findings about the complex relationships between the karst landscape and its native plants and animals into landscape-level land management planning. Intensifying on-the-ground inventories of karst areas where timber harvests are proposed.
The Forest Service has entered into partnerships with the National Speleological Society and local cavers to help locate, map, and inventory karst development and caves. To date over 80,000 feet of passage have been mapped within some 300 caves. The Forest Service also has formed partnerships with local schools, universities, research institutions, and the Boy Scouts. The Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society support research projects, and the Ketchikan Pulp Company is seeking ways to help manage and protect the resources.
Karst management involves critical decisions concerning timber harvest, anadromous fisheries, sensitive species, hydrology, soils, karst development and caves, and paleontological and cultural resource protection. The karst landscape is a three-dimensional system that includes forest and peatlands atop and adjacent to the karst, the surface and subsurface interactions, the unique cave resources within these cave systems, and the groundwaters which flow through these systems. Karst landscapes impose land management liabilities not encountered in non-karst areas. Subsurface drainage networks generally operate independently of, and with more complexity than, the surface drainage systems above them.
To characterize the karst landscape, the Forest Service is developing a risk assessment analysis strategy referred to as -vulnerability mapping.- The thesis of this approach is that not all karst development and resources have evolved equally, and some parts of a karst landscape are subject to appreciably greater resource damage potential and groundwater contamination risk than other karst lands. Differences are a function of the degree of karst development, the continuity of solution openings within the karst system, and the interdependency of associated resources that benefit from the karst groundwater system. The analysis considers the degree of karst and cave development, the nature of the soils, the slope, the karst hydrologic system, and associated fisheries. High value karst systems are identified and removed from timber harvest plans. On karst areas found to be of low and/or moderate vulnerability, low-impact timber harvest and road-building techniques that provide for minimal soil disturbance and hydrologic impacts are prescribed to maintain site productivity and protect the karst ecosystem.
Man and the Biosphere in the Southern Appalachians
Another example of the ecosystem approach to natural resource management is the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere Program (SAMAB) established in 1988 as the SAMAB Cooperative. Its Zone of Cooperation covers parts of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Federal agencies in the Cooperative include the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Energy, Economic Development Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority, National Park Service, EPA, and U.S. Geological Survey. State agencies are now joining. The following are among the current initiatives of the SAMAB Cooperative:
. A model community planning program to demonstrate that tourism-based development and conservation of natural resources are compatible objectives;
. Support for restoration of endangered and threatened animal and plant species, including reintroduction of the red wolf in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park;
. Establishment of a forest health monitoring program for Southern Appalachia; and
. Public education for controlling dogwood anthracnose disease and other threats to the environment.
Forest Ecosystem Management. In 1993 the USDA Forest Service began to implement ecosystem management on the national forests and grasslands with an Ecosystem Management National Framework. Forest Service personnel met with The Nature Conservancy, Wilderness Society, American Forest and Paper Association, National Association of State Foresters, Congressional Research Service, Ecological Society of America, National Woodland Owners Association, and Sport Fisheries Institute to develop a framework for action. The result was the following initiatives:
. Departmental Ecosystem Management Group. The Forest Service and the Soil Conservation Service formed this working group to coordinate ecosystem management actions. The group developed draft policy and guidelines on ecosystems and biodiversity for the USDA.
. National Ecoregion-Based Ecological Assessment. The Forest Service worked with other agencies and societies to conduct a national assessment of ecoregions;
. Management by Watersheds. The agency has developed a new strategy called Management by Watersheds to maintain ecological processes that sustain biophysical watersheds and aquatic systems. Forest managers treat watersheds as ecological units and manage the unit to assure the hydrologic function and conditions typical of healthy watersheds and streams.
Grassland Guidelines. In revising its grazing rules and fees, the Bureau of Land Management stresses restoration and ecosystem management. BLM range managers are adopting ecosystem management as a process that considers the total environment and requires the skillful use of ecological, economic, social, and managerial principles to sustain the integrity of grassland ecosystems. With extensive public participation, the BLM prepared new grazing guidelines that assess the functional condition along with the social, cultural, ecological, and economic characteristics and values of ecosystems. The Bureau provides guidance for its managers on selecting priority watersheds, on the use of interdisciplinary teams, on science-based goalsetting, and on monitoring results.
Restoring the Rangeland Ecosystem of the Malpai-Borderlands. The Malpai-Borderlands, in Southeastern Arizona and neighboring New Mexico, revolves around a ranch purchased by The Nature Conservancy and a nonprofit organization of 36 local ranchers, called the Malpai Borderlands Group. This project covers approximately 1 million contiguous acres of a near-pristine range ecosystem. The Group is working with soil conservation districts and federal agencies, including the Soil Conservation Service, Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management. The ranchers, who sought a common voice to work with federal agencies, contribute innovative ideas such as a revolving fund and the use of grass banks that allow deferment from grazing to support reintroduction of fire to the ecosystem without interrupting the cash flow most ranchers require to stay in production. The resource concerns of the ranchers include the diversity of the range plant community, water quality, threatened and endangered plants and animals, and the ability to manage their ranch lands for sustainable agricultural production. The Soil Conservation Service led the development of conservation plans for the project and will assist the Group with installation of practices such as fencing, water development, and seeding depleted areas with native species of grasses.
Managing Dams to Protect Watershed Resources. The Bureau of Reclamation is working with other federal and state agencies and outside groups to address environmental problems at the watershed level. Efforts include the Recovery Implementation Program for Endangered Fish Species in the Upper Colorado River Basin and the National Irrigation Water Quality Program sponsored by the Department of the Interior. The BOR is adjusting the timing and volume of water released by its dams to protect natural resources in such watersheds as California's Central Valley, the Columbia River System, and Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River.
Watershed Perspective for Wildlife Refuges. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through its National Wildlife Refuge System, is planning new refuge acquisitions using a watershed perspective. Areas include the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia at the headwaters of the Blackwater River, the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, and the Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge personnel work with private landowners who share the watershed to achieve common goals.
Watershed Management at Mammoth Cave. The National Park Service, through its Watershed Protection Program, encourages individual park units to enter into cooperative watershed management endeavors with federal, state, and local agencies. An example is the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, where underground rivers that support a variety of aquatic life are recharged by a vast area of sinkholes and sinking streams on 60,000 acres of private land, which happens to be some of the state's most productive farmland. A coalition of local, state, and federal agencies protect park groundwater by working with area farmers to help them better conserve and manage their lands.
Old Mines and Watersheds. The Bureau of Mines, working with the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service, used watersheds to select areas of analysis for an environmental study. Among the sites selected were the Lolo Creek watershed in west central Idaho and the Soldier Meadows Allotment in northwest Nevada which includes smaller watersheds of intermittent and perennial streams. The Bureau of Mines works with federal and state agencies to identify and locate abandoned mines and associated hazardous wastes that are damaging public lands and the ecosystems they occupy. The Bureau is characterizing amounts and toxicities of metals at abandoned mine sites in major watersheds. Such data on metals and other contaminants at old mine sites are essential for cost-effective reclamation on federal lands.
Biodiversity and the fate of many threatened and endangered species are central issues in the debate over approaches to ecosystem management. It is axiomatic that conservation of biodiversity cannot succeed through -crisis management- of an ever expanding number of endangered species. The best way to minimize species loss is to maintain the integrity of ecosystem function, and the best time to restore or sustain a species or ecosystem is when it is still common. For certain species and biological communities, the pressing concern is perpetuation or enhancement of the genetic variation that provides for long-term productivity, resistance to stress, and adaptability to change.
This requires cooperative efforts and multiple-use management across entire landscapes-at the scale of habitats or ecosystems rather than species. Additionally steps need to be taken to incorporate the benefits of biodiversity and the use of biological resources into local, regional, national, and international economies. The real and potential wealth represented by conserved biodiversity cannot be replaced.
Conditions and Trends
Information on the conditions and trends of biodiversity in the United States is limited in comparison to the full array of genetic and biological diversity. Data on genetic diversity is limited primarily to species of commercial value or species considered vulnerable to extinction. Data on species diversity, while more extensive, are restricted mostly to threatened and endangered species and game species.
Although scientists still differ on terms, they agree that current extinction rates exceed speciation rates for a net loss of biodiversity. They can account for the extinction worldwide of 75 mammals and birds between 1600 and 1900, for a loss rate of one species every four years. Between 1900 and 1980, however, another 75 mammals and birds became extinct, and the loss rate accelerated to one species a year. In 1993 the estimates for mammal and bird extinctions were one to three species a year. Speculations suggest rates for all taxonomic species vary from one to three species a day to the most pessimistic estimates of one to three species an hour.
Among those species that have become extinct since 1600, half were native North American higher vertebrates. In the past century, 40 taxa (27 species and 3 genera) of North American fish became extinct-not including marine or distinct anadromous fish. Of the 40 taxa, 19 have become extinct since 1964. Eight species of mussels and all five species of a limpet subfamily have become extinct in the Southeast. Since 1850 among Hawaii's native flora and fauna, 85 percent of the island's plant and animal species have become extinct or severely reduced in numbers. Island species are especially susceptible to extinction, and half of Hawaii's endemic birds and hundreds of plants and invertebrates have been lost. Over the past decade, seven species and subspecies were removed from the Threatened and Endangered Species List because they are believed to be extinct. Among them are the dusky seaside sparrow, Sampson's pearly mussel, and the Tecopa pupfish. The Fish and Wildlife Service is no longer considering another 200 candidate species because they are believed to be extinct. The major contributing causes are habitat destruction, over-exploitation, and competition from exotic species.
Threatened and Endangered Species
Over the past 16 years, an average of 34 species per year have been listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This number of listings, which does not reflect all the species that are threatened or endangered, is limited by FWS staff resources. Vertebrate species dominated the list during the first three years of the program, but plant species (48 percent) and invertebrates (13 percent) now comprise a greater proportion of the listed biota.
Candidate Species. While the listing rate has increased with time, the number of candidate species has remained constant. Of 3,500 candidate species, 59 percent are plants, 27 percent are invertebrates, and 14 percent are vertebrates.
Distribution Patterns. Listing data indicate broad distribution patterns of threatened and endangered species. Associations of threatened and endangered species with land types occur in broad natural land-cover categories, including forest, range, barren, wetland, and water. To date more threatened and endangered species are associated with forest ecosystems than with other categories. Animals comprise most of the species associated with forest environments-a pattern observed consistently among all land types, except barren land, where plant species dominate. Invertebrate species are associated with aquatic environments, particularly water systems embedded in forested landscapes. The following information pertains to 667 species that were officially listed in August 1992:
Forest Habitats. Within forest habitats, evergreen types contain more listed threatened and endangered species than mixed or deciduous types. Among forest-associated taxa, more mammalian, avian, reptilian, insect, and plant species were found in evergreen types; these taxa comprised more than 65 percent of all listed species associated with forest habitats. Mollusks and crustaceans were the only taxa where the majority of forest species were associated with deciduous types, although these taxa only comprise a small proportion (14 percent) of forest-associated species.
Shrub and Brush Rangeland. Of all listed threatened and endangered species with rangeland habitats, 63 percent were associated with shrub and brush rangeland. Predominant taxa were plants and fish, which comprised 119 of the 170 species associated with this cover type. Eleven out of the 12 reptile species associated with rangeland habitats were from shrub and brush lands.
Barrens. More than one-fourth of the 667 threatened and endangered species were associated with barren land habitats. Half were plants; and most of these were associated with natural exposed rock habitats. The predominant animal taxa were mammals, birds, and reptiles, particularly in affiliation with beach or dune environments.
Aquatic Habitats. Water associations are dominated by fish and mollusks. A third of listed mammals and birds were found in open water environments. Many more threatened and endangered species were associated with lotic (actively moving water as in rivers or streams) compared to lentic (still water as in lakes, ponds or swamps) systems; this pattern is consistent among all taxa. No more than 25 percent of the listed species affiliated with aquatic environments use lakes, reservoirs, bays, or estuaries.
Wetlands. Although wetland habitats supported fewer threatened and endangered species than other terrestrial or aquatic environments, this relatively rare habitat type supported a disproportionately high number of listed species. Wetlands comprise only 5 percent of the land base in the conterminous United States, yet 30 percent of listed animal species and 15 percent of listed plant species are associated with wetlands.
Factors Contributing to Endangerment. General factors believed to adversely affect threatened and endangered species include habitat loss or change; human overuse; interspecific interactions including disease, predation, and competition; and other natural causes. In 1993 habitat loss associated with land use intensifications was the predominant factor in species endangerment. More than 95 percent of the listed U.S. species had habitat loss or alteration indicated as a factor explaining the current status of the species. Interspecific interactions, particularly those associated with introduced species, have adversely affected more than half the listed species.
Game and Nongame Species Groups
Historically state and federal wildlife managing agencies have placed more emphasis on documenting game species populations for management purposes. Consequently, very limited information exists on the status of nongame wildlife populations.
Invertebrates. The only group of invertebrates with fairly complete information is mussels. Of the remaining mussel species in North America, 73 percent are rare or imperiled, and 50 percent of all U.S. mussels are listed or proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Amphibians. Documented declines in local amphibian populations during the 1980s, both in the United States and worldwide, have led scientists to believe that some species are declining at rapid rates, some to the point of extinction. In the United States, the most extensive declines are in the Northwest.
Fish. Of the estimated 1,033 known full species of freshwater fish in North America, 74 to 103 are considered endangered, 85 to 114 are vulnerable or threatened, 101 to 147 are rare or of special concern, and 27 are believed extinct. Significant losses of native fish fauna have been documented in the Great Lakes (see Chapter 2), the upper Colorado River basin, the Illinois and Maumee rivers, the Chesapeake Bay (see Chapter 3), and aquatic systems in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.
Birds. Birds came to the forefront as indicators of environmental health during the 1960s by focusing world attention on the detrimental effects of agricultural pesticides such as DDT. Since then much broader phenomena have been affecting birds: incremental, cumulative loss of habitat; increases in competitively superior populations of alien and exotic bird species; and increased predation by predators associated with human alteration of natural habitat.
Birds of Agricultural Lands and Grasslands. Over the past several decades, birds associated with agricultural lands and grasslands have shown downward population trends. In fact, native, endemic grassland birds have declined in the past 25 years more consistently and across a broader geographic range than any other group of birds. These trends are associated with removal of windbreaks and hedgerows; haying practices that disrupt nests in grasslands; reversion of abandoned farms and pastures to woodlands; use of agricultural chemicals; and increased predation.
Birds of Forestlands. Declines in many forest-dwelling bird populations are associated with forest fragmentation which reduces preferred habitat below a sustainable threshold. Population declines have been most dramatic and pervasive in forests fragmented by development and those invaded by the brownheaded cowbird, a nest parasite, and predators.
Wading Birds and Shorebirds. Colonial wading birds were seriously depleted by commercial exploitation in the early 1900s. Since then all but the endangered wood stork have recovered as the result of human intervention and are stable or even expanding their range. Most species of shorebirds also have made substantial recoveries, with the exception of a few federally listed species, yet they remain vulnerable because of their reliance on beaches and wetlands which continue to be developed (see Chapter 3).
Birds of Prey. Raptors such as the bald eagle, osprey, peregrin falcon, and Cooper's hawk have responded favorably to federal protection and restrictions on the use of DDT and other pesticides. Other raptors are declining because of lost critical habitat elements. The sharp-shinned hawk, after notable recovery, has declined for unknown reasons in the past decade.
Ducks. Duck populations have declined significantly since the early 1970s and remain below the long-term (1955-1993) mean. In 1993 the estimated breeding population of all ducks (excluding scoters, eiders, oldsquaws, and mergansers) was 26.3 million, an 11-percent decline from the 1992 estimate and 18 percent below the long-term average. The primary reasons for the decline are loss of wetland habitat and degradation of adjacent upland habitat.
Geese and Swans. Most goose and swan populations in North America are numerically sound and, with few exceptions, have increased substantially since the late 1960s. Exceptions include greater white-fronted goose, brant, and the Atlantic and Southern James Bay populations of Canada geese which have been marked by low population indices in recent years.
Trend data on terrestrial mammals are available primarily for game species and furbearers-those with commercial value. Dramatic shifts have occurred in the distribution and abundance of many large mammals since colonial settlement, particularly in the eastern United States. Moose, elk, bison, wolves, mountain lions, and black bear once were widely distributed in the East. Today the white-tailed deer is the dominant species; elk and bison were extirpated, although elk have been reintroduced in some areas; black bear and moose are restricted in distribution; and the gray wolf and eastern mountain lion are endangered species that occur in small, geographically restricted populations.
White-tailed deer have increased dramatically in the eastern United States since 1900, and in some parts of the country are considered excessive. Wild turkeys have shown large population increases in the East in the past 30 years, a result of restocking programs and favorable landscape changes.
The western part of the country has a more diverse group of large mammals, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and moose. After declining in the 1970s, white-tailed and mule deer populations are now increasing or stable. Pronghorn populations, which once numbered between 30 and 40 million until reduced to 13,000 animals in the 1920s, have increased dramatically over the past 20 years, as a result of regulation of hunting, improved range condition, and increased habitat.
Trend data for small mammals are available for rabbits and squirrels, but for a limited time frame. The eastern cottontail showed downward trends between the 1960s and 1980s. Squirrel populations declined slightly in the Midwest, and increased in the northeast and southern United States during the same period.
Population trends vary for furbearers. Muskrat populations continue to be abundant throughout their North American range, with fluctuations generally following wetland conditions. Raccoons, beaver, and opossum all have shown recent population increases, while fox and mink population are declining in some parts of the country. Bobcat populations increased in the 1950s and 1960s, but have since declined, and the coyote is increasing and expanding in many regions despite intensive control programs.
Of the non-game North American mammals, bat species have experienced serious population declines due primarily to human destruction of bat colonies and their roosting and hibernating habitat. Six of the 42 species of bats that are found in the United States and Canada are endangered, including the Hawaiian hoary bat, Ozark and Virginia big-eared bat, Mexican long-nosed bat, grey bat, and Indiana bat. In Guam, only 500 Marianna fruit bats are present in the island's sole remaining colony. The decline of the fruit bat in Guam and throughout Micronesia is due primarily to unrestricted hunting and poaching.
At least 35 species of marine mammals range in the western North Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, including 32 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, four seal species (harbor, harp, ringed, and gray seals), and the West Indian manatee. Of these, seven species are listed as endangered; sei, sperm, blue, fin, humpback, and North Atlantic right whales and the West Indian manatee. The migratory stock of coastal bottlenose dolphins is considered depleted as a result of a 1987-1988 massive die-off. The status of the remaining stocks is under investigation.
At least 50 marine mammal species occur in U.S. waters of the eastern North Pacific Ocean and eastern tropical Pacific, including walrus, polar bear, sea otter, 36 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, and 11 species of seals and sea lions. Nine species are listed as threatened or endangered. Right whales in the eastern North Pacific are at critically low levels; only five to seven sightings have been made in the past 25 years. The eastern North Pacific California gray whale, on the other hand, has recovered to 21,000 animals, near to or surpassing its historical abundance level. Some northern west coast pinniped populations, such as Steller sea lion, northern fur seal, and harbor seal, have declined in the last 20 years, while during the same period, other pinniped populations farther south, such as harbor seal, California sea lion, northern fur seal, and northern elephant seal, have increased. Human activities may be affecting the recovery of species such as humpback whales; females with calves are abandoning traditional nearshore calving and calf-rearing habitat near Maui, Hawaii, possibly in response to repeated human interference or contact associated with whale-watching excursions.
The Hawaiian monk seal, abundant when Europeans discovered the Hawaiian Islands, is an endangered species today because of overexploitation. In 1993 progress in managing the recovery of this species varied among the main breeding populations.
Unusual Marine Mammal Mortalities
Over the past few years, several unusual mortality events have impacted marine mammal populations, particularly in harbor seals, humpback whales, and bottlenose dolphins along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. Over 500 dead harbor seals were recovered along the New England coast during an influenza outbreak in 1979-1980, and a smaller outbreak of the same disease occurred in 1982. Although high levels of mortality didnot occur, phocine distemper was detected in harbor seals in 1992. The same disease was responsible for the death of over 17,000 seals in Europe in 1988.
In late 1987 a group of 14 humpback whales apparently died as a result of the presence in prey species of a biotoxin associated with algal blooms. Three different mortality events affected bottlenose dolphins in the last few years. A major mortality event affected the coastal migratory stock on the east coast in 1987-88, reducing the population by over 50 percent and, as a result, leading to the stock's listing as depleted. In the winter and spring of 1990, mortality levels of bottlenose dolphins along a portion of the Gulf coast were much higher than usual, and in 1992, over 100 dead bottlenose dolphins were recovered from a 2-county area of Texas within a 2-month period.
Sea turtles are highly migratory and are found in all but the coldest of the world's oceans, but nesting is restricted to tropical and sub-tropical beaches. Seven of the eight species of sea turtles, including the loggerhead, green, leatherback, hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, olive ridley, and black turtle occur in U.S. waters. Under the Endangered Species Act, all marine turtles, with the exception of the flatback turtle found in Australia, are listed as endangered or threatened. The loggerhead, black turtle, and olive ridley are listed as threatened throughout their U.S. ranges, as is the green turtle, except the Florida breeding population which is listed as endangered. The leatherback, hawksbill, and Kemp's ridley are listed as endangered. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has authority to protect and conserve sea turtles in their marine environment, and the Fish and Wildlife Service maintains jurisdiction over sea turtles in their nesting habitat. See Table 86 in Part II for information on sea turtle populations.
Fishery Interactions, Habitat Degradation, and Sea Turtles
On January 1, 1993, a United Nations moratorium on high-seas driftnet fisheries went into effect and halted incidental, driftnet bycatch of sea turtles in the North Pacific. Bycatch rates were monitored on driftnet vessels by U.S., Canadian, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese scientific observers. Although the effect of driftnet fisheries on U.S. sea turtle populations is unknown, the moratorium is viewed as a positive step toward the recovery of threatened and endangered species. Sea turtles are also killed incidentally in other commercial fisheries:
. In Hawaii, turtles are caught and killed in pelagic longline fisheries targeting tunas and billfishes. During late 1993 research techniques were formulated to determine mortality rates of turtles incidentally caught by longline.
. Prior to implementation of turtle excluder device (TED) regulations in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Atlantic, as many as 11,000 sea turtles were killed annually in offshore shrimp trawls, and an unknown number are killed in inshore shrimp trawls. To reduce incidental mortality, the use of TEDs is now mandated for most of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shrimp and summer flounder trawl fisheries. Studies indicate that TEDs, which enable 97 percent of turtles to escape shrimp trawls and avoid drowning, only minimally reduce shrimp catches. Research continues on the development of new TED designs to exclude small turtles and to work in small trawls.
Additional concerns involving sea turtles include the following:
. Coastal development, including seawalls and bulkheads, which reduces and degrades nesting and foraging habitats;
. Commercial gill net and non-shrimp trawl fisheries that incidentally capture and kill turtles;
. Encounters with motorized vessels which cause mortality through propeller and hull collisions;
. Floating tar balls and plastics, which if eaten can cause mortality; and
. A fibropapilloma tumor disease in green turtles that may affect the recovery of green turtle populations world-wide.
In 1993 President Clinton signed the Convention on Biodiversity and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, emphasizing the importance of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity on global and continent-wide scales. The Council on Environmental Quality issued a report with recommendations for incorporating biodiversity into National Environmental Policy Act analyses and environmental management. Federal agencies, meanwhile, continued the groundwork for reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act, in addition to sponsoring a number of biodiversity programs. A sampling follows.
Convention on Biological Diversity
The President signed the Convention on Biological Diversity on June 4, 1993. This comprehensive agreement marks an unprecedented worldwide commitment to stem the loss of the earth's species, their habitats, and ecosystems. By joining with other countries in implementing the convention, the United States can continue to take a lead role in ensuring that future generations can enjoy the economic, health, nutritional, aesthetic, and other benefits derived from the world's rich biological inheritance.
The convention calls for the nations of the world to address conserving biodiversity now, before it is too late. The convention seeks to achieve this objective through provisions that encourage nations to:
. Take Domestic Actions to Conserve Biodiversity. Adopt sound conservation regimes, similar to those that the United States has long had in place. Nations are called on to establish national parks and protected areas, promote the recovery and rehabilitation of threatened species, and expand research and training, public education, and use of environmental impact assessments.
. Promote Sustainable Use of Biodiversity. The convention recognizes that biodiversity conservation is not an end to itself and that biodiversity can be used sustainably to benefit mankind. By emphasizing measures to realize the economic and other benefits of biodiversity in a sustainable manner, the convention encourages countries to commercialize and conserve biodiversity.
. Promote Benefit Sharing Through International Cooperation. Recognizing that much of the planet's biodiversity lies in less developed countries, the convention promotes a concept whereby benefits stemming from the productive use of genetic resources flow back to those countries that act to conserve biological diversity and provide access to their genetic resources. These benefits-determined on the basis of voluntary agreements among all concerned-could take the form of monetary compensation for the use of genetic resources, or as technology transfer programs in training, participation in research, cooperative work programs, and improved access to information.
. Participate in a Global Forum on Biodiversity. The biodiversity convention creates a global forum for countries to share their experience and knowledge on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. This forum should prove to be an effective mechanism for implementing convention provisions and maintaining the long-term focus on biodiversity issues.
North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation
On September 14, 1993, the President and the heads of Canada and Mexico signed the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. The agreement supplements the environmental provisions and objectives of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), further ensuring that trade liberalization will not come at the expense of environmental protection. The agreement's chief objective is to foster cooperation on continent-wide environmental issues and to improve and ensure enforcement of national environmental laws. The agreement creates a new forum for environmental ministries of the United States, Canada, and Mexico to develop approaches regarding the conservation and protection of wild flora and fauna and their habitat.
This historic agreement creates a new Commission for Environmental Cooperation, with an independent secretariat that will receive complaints from citizens about any non-enforcement of environmental protection laws and will ensure openness to the public. The degree of state, local, and public participation in this new Commission will be unprecedented.
Endangered Species Act and Species Recovery
The federal land agencies continued to promote species recovery under the ESA.
Bald Eagle Recovery. The bald eagle was listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species in 1967. At that time eagle population declines were attributed to habitat loss, uncontrolled shooting, and exposure to the pesticide DDT in prey species. Bald eagle recovery has been a significant success. In the Northern States Recovery Region, the bald eagle nesting population grew at an average annual rate of 10 percent between 1988 and 1993. Throughout the lower 48 states, nesting pairs increased from 417 in 1963 to more than 4,000 pairs in 1993. Preliminary data indicate that this trend is continuing. Cooperative agreements with private landowners have aided in this success, and similar activities will continue.
Using NEPA to Conserve Biodiversity
In a 1993 NEPA report, the Council on Environmental Quality set forth general principles for incorporating biodiversity into NEPA analyses and environmental management (see Chapter 10). These principles form a bridge between concerns for biodiversity and the management approaches needed to achieve it.
. Take a big-picture or ecosystem view. Sites exist not in ecological isolation, but in the context of local and regional ecosystems.
. Protect communities and ecosystems. Look beyond individual species to the community interrelationships and natural processes that sustain the species.
. Minimize fragmentation. Connection links or threads of viable habitats allow wider distribution of species than a series of isolated habitats.
. Promote native species. Non-native species often are successful in competing and may actually displace native biological diversity.
. Protect rare and ecologically important species. Protection of keystone species can have positive overall effects on ecosystem structure and function.
. Protect unique or sensitive environments. Areas unique or substantially different from their surroundings may be ecologically critical.
. Maintain or mimic natural ecosystem processes. Ecosystems cannot function without the internal processes that shape and maintain them.
. Maintain or mimic naturally occurring structural diversity. Activities that change the naturally occurring number and type of specialized ecological niches should be avoided.
. Protect genetic diversity. To preserve genetic adaptations, species should be maintained in natural habitats or reintroduced in ecologically similar areas.
. Restore ecosystems, communities, and species. Take advantage of opportunities to restore ecosystems and to replace native species that have been lost from parts of their range.
. Monitor for biodiversity impacts; acknowledge uncertainty; be flexible. Be willing to learn and manage adaptively and sequentially as a substitute for lack of information.
Concluding that scale is the central issue in the ecosystem approach, the report encourages land managers to select boundaries that consider all resources subject to non- trivial impacts.
Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Recovery and Management Planning. The red-cockaded woodpecker, a small woodpecker native to southern pine forest habitats, was listed as an endangered species by the Fish and Wildlife Service in October 1970. The primary reason for population declines was habitat loss, specifically the loss of the open pine forest and longleaf pine savannah habitats needed by the bird for foraging and nesting. At the time of listing, fewer than 4,000 colonies remained throughout the species 13-state range. In 1993 the Fish and Wildlife Service issued its -Strategy and Guidelines for the Recovery and Protection of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker on National Wildlife Refuges- to address the conservation needs of colonies on FWS lands. Most colonies, however, are found on other agency and private lands. To further address recovery needs, the FWS has entered agreements with other agencies and private industry to allow for large-scale conservation and management of this species. The first such agreement was with Georgia-Pacific, which developed a plan to combine woodpecker protection with industrial forest management. The Georgia-Pacific approach provides for scientific research on 4.2 million acres along with numerous habitat protection and management actions that will allow for red-cockaded woodpecker colonies on company land in perpetuity. The plan provides mechanisms to achieve both environmental and business goals.
Planning Natural Communities Conservation Program (NCCP). Throughout California increasing numbers of plant and animal species and unique habitat types have experienced significant declines, prompting concern for the future of the state's natural heritage. To address these concerns, California established the NCCP program by enacting the Natural Community Conservation Planning Act of 1991 which provides for region-wide planning to protect natural resources while allowing compatible and appropriate growth and development. The initial NCCP effort was a Coastal Sage Scrub (CSS) NCCP, a partnership by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the county governments within the CSS habitat area. The CSS community was chosen in part because of the anticipated listing of the coastal California gnatcatcher, which occurs almost exclusively in CSS, generally at the lower elevation coastal areas of Southern California where much of the pressure for growth is occurring. When the gnatcatcher was listed as threatened on March 25, 1993, an estimated 2,600 pairs remained in California. The FWS issued a special rule to allow economic development to continue while providing gnatcatcher habitat protection, enhancement, and restoration through conservation planning. The use of an ecosystem approach to conserve and manage the CSS community will benefit many other animal and plant species of concern within the community. By addressing the conservation needs of species that are possible candidates for listing through an ecosystem approach such as the NCCP, land agencies may avoid the ultimate listing of these species.
Species Delistings and Reclassifications
The primary goal of the Endangered Species Act (Act) is to ensure the survival of species and the habitats upon which they depend and to recover the species to the point at which protection under the act is no longer warranted. In 1993 the FWS delisted-removed from the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants-the following species:
. Tumamoc globeberry (Tumamoca macdougalii) in Arizona and Mexico;
. McKittrick pennyroyal (Hedeoma apiculatum) in New Mexico and Texas, and
. Spineless hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. inermis) in Colorado and Utah.
As a result of cooperative conservation actions-federal, state, tribal, and private-as well as intensive surveys to locate additional populations, these species are now considered secure.
Proposed for delisting were the following species:
. Cuneate bidens (Bidens cuneata), a Hawaiian plant, and
. Arctic peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus tundrius), which nests across northern North America, including Alaska, and winters in Central and South America.
In 1993 two species met the criteria for reclassification identified in their respective recovery plans and were reclassified from Endangered to Threatened:
. Louisiana pearlshell (Margaritifera hembeli), a freshwater mussel in Louisiana; and
. Siler pincushion cactus (Pediocactus sileri) in Arizona and Utah.
The FWS proposed reclassification of the following five species from Endangered to Threatened status in 1993:
Hawaiian hawk (Buteo solitarius), endemic to Hawaii;
MacFarlane's four-o'clock (Mirabilis macfarlanei), a plant in Idaho and Oregon;
Pahrump poolfish (Empetrichthys latos), an Arizona killifish;
Small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides), an orchid scattered among several eastern States and Ontario, Canada; and
Virginia round-leaf birch (Betula uber), which has been established at 20 new locations since its rediscovery in 1975.
In addition to actions taken for these U.S. species, the FWS reclassified the Nile crocodile (Crocodilus niloticus) from Endangered to Threatened throughout its African range and proposed the delisting of three species of kangaroos on mainland Australia-the eastern gray (Macropus giganteus), western gray (M. fuliginosus), and the red (M. rufus) kangaroos. Although the FWS does not prepare and implement recovery plans for foreign species, status reviews provide data to enable the agency to assess whether delisting or reclassification is appropriate.
Endangered Species and Clean Water
A third of all federally listed threatened and endangered species rely on aquatic ecosystems for their survival, and their recovery depends in part on Clean Water Act provisions that restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters. As the lead agency with water restoration and maintenance responsibilities, the EPA administers programs that contribute to the protection of listed species.
Marine Mammal Protection and Recovery
Before passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the only protective measures for marine mammals were through the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and those were only for certain depleted large whales. All marine mammals are now protected by the MMPA and some by the ESA. Other management responsibilities are addressed in the Magnuson Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, which extends the jurisdiction of the MMPA throughout the U.S. exclusive economic zone.
The International Dolphin Conservation Act of 1992 amended the MMPA and provided for the State Department to enter into an agreement to establish a global moratorium prohibiting the harvest of tuna through the use of purse seine nets that entrap dolphins or other marine mammals.
The MMPA governs the management of marine mammals in the United States. Prior to the 1988 amendments, fisheries could only be granted permits to take marine mammals incidentally if scientific evidence proved that all stocks of marine mammals involved in the fisheries were at or above their optimum sustainable population (OSP) level. Because sufficient evidence regarding the status relative to OSP only exists for a few stocks, this system of management caused problems and economic losses. In 1988 the MMPA was amended to allow a 5-year interim exemption period, during which time the incidental taking of marine mammals was permitted in commercial fishing operations. During this time it was expected that additional information would be gathered on the species involved and on the nature and extent of their interactions with different fisheries.
In 1993 the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) initiated several actions to restore or protect marine mammal populations:
Northern right whale. On May 19, 1993, the NMFS proposed critical habitat pursuant to the 1991 final recovery plan for the northern right whale: a foraging area in Great South Channel; a foraging/nursery area in Cape Cod Bay; and the only known calving area in U.S. waters located in coastal southeastern United States. Also in 1993 the NMFS convened several meetings to focus on the northern right whale in southeastern waters and formed the Southeastern U.S. Right Whale Recovery Plan Implementation Team.
Gulf of Maine (GME) Population of Harbor Porpoise. On January 7, 1993, the NMFS proposed the GME harbor porpoise population for listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act primarily because of the level of harbor porpoise bycatch incidental to commercial gillnet fisheries that extend in coastal and offshore waters from at least the Bay of Fundy, Canada, south throughout the eastern United States to North Carolina. Average annual bycatch of harbor porpoise in the entire GME gillnet fishery was as high as 2,400 to 1,700 individuals for 1990 and 1991, respectively, but down to about 900 individuals in 1992 and 1993.
Steller Sea Lion. On February 22, 1993, the NMFS completed a Population Viability Analysis for steller sea lions in Alaskan waters. Based on observed declines in the number of adult females at rookeries between 1985 and 1992, the results suggest that the next 20 years may be critical to the population as individual rookeries may be reduced to very low levels. After 20 years rookeries may disappear, and extinction probabilities could increase rapidly. Other studies indicate serious declines in the number of pups at major rookeries in Alaska. On April 1, 1993, as part of its recovery efforts for the steller sea lion, the NMFS proposed the following critical habitats: major rookeries, haulouts and associated terrestrial, air, and aquatic zones in Alaska; three aquatic foraging areas in Alaska; and major rookeries and associated air and aquatic zones in California and Oregon.
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