Nongame and Rare Species Program:
Private Landowner Tools
Many federally listed species have at least some habitat on private land, and some species have most of their remaining habitat on private land. The USFWS has developed tools and incentives to protect the interests of private landowners while encouraging management activities that benefit listed and other at-risk species.
If you are interested in any of the programs below contact a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Texas Field Office.
Habitat Conservation Plans
Section 10 of the ESA may be used by landowners including private citizens, corporations, Tribes, States, and counties who want to develop property inhabited by listed species. Landowners may receive a permit to take such species incidental to otherwise legal activities, provided they have developed an approved habitat conservation plan (HCP). HCPs include an assessment of the likely impacts on the species from the proposed action, the steps that the permit holder will take to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts, and the funding available to carry out the steps. HCPs may benefit not only landowners but also species by securing and managing important habitat and by addressing economic development with a focus on species conservation.
Safe Harbor Agreements
Safe Harbor Agreements (SHAs) provide regulatory assurance for non- Federal landowners who voluntarily aid in the recovery of listed species by improving or maintaining wildlife habitat. Under SHAs, landowners manage the enrolled property and may return it to originally agreed-upon “baseline” conditions for the species and its habitat at the end of the agreement, even if this means incidentally taking the species.
Candidate Conservation Agreements
Candidate Conservation agreements (CCAs) are voluntary agreements between landowners—including Federal land management Agencies— and one or more other parties to reduce or remove threats to candidate or other at-risk species. Parties to the CCA work with the FWS to design conservation measures and monitor the effectiveness of plan implementation.
Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances
Under Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA), non-Federal landowners volunteer to work with the FWS on plans to conserve candidate and other at-risk species so that protection of the ESA is not needed. In return, landowners receive regulatory assurances that, if a species covered by the CCAA is listed, they will not be required to do anything beyond what is specified in the agreement, and they will receive an enhancement of survival permit, allowing incidental take in reference to the management activities identified in the agreement.
Conservation banks are lands that are permanently protected and managed as mitigation for the loss elsewhere of listed and other at-risk species and their habitat. Conservation banking is a freemarket enterprise based on supply and demand of mitigation credits. Credits are supplied by landowners who enter into a Conservation Bank Agreement with the FWS agreeing to protect and manage their lands for one or more species. Others who need to mitigate for adverse impacts to those same species may purchase conservation bank credits to meet their mitigation requirements. Conservation banking benefits species by reducing the piecemeal approach to mitigation that often results in many small, isolated and unsustainable preserves that lose their habitat functions and values over time.