December 14, 2007
December 14, 2007 - The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in support of the agency's draft recovery credit guidance and applauded it for offering this proactive approach to species conservation.
Recovery credit programs measure the conservation benefit of actions taken by producers. Producers are then compensated for that benefit, and the credits can be used to offset adverse impacts to habitats. A pilot project for recovery credits was started a few years ago by cattle producers in the Fort Hood, Texas, area. The success of this initial effort has resulted in the service's proposal to formalize this effort pioneered by ranchers and other partners.
If this program is implemented in the spirit of its conception, a net benefit in species recovery will be a likely outcome. ASI recommended that the program be open to all willing participants and not limited to federal agency participation. This would have a positive effect to species recovery and habitat preservation on private lands where the federal agencies hold little jurisdiction.
Including candidate species and other species under special consideration into the scope of the program was also advised. This would take a proactive approach to conservation so that the burden of recovery is not ensured.
Finally, ASI encourages the participation of public lands grazers in the concept of this program. This would allow sheep producers to work with federal agencies to develop species recovery and habitat preservation strategies on public lands without the costly burdens of litigation and statutory interpretation of federal code.
A flexible mechanism such as the recovery credit system, which facilitates wildlife conservation by private landowners, is essential for the Endangered Species Act to be successful. Staff contact: Dustin Bryant, 202 484-7134