On July 24, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a notice seeking authorization from the Office of Management and Budget to evaluate habitat conservation banks established under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) through a survey of bank sponsors and managers. 80 Fed. Reg. 44,147. The Service and the Department of the Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis state that they are undertaking this effort to “identify potential institutional or other impediments to the habitat conservation banking program, and develop possible options for encouraging expanded use of the program.”
As of January 2015, 132 habitat conservation banks were approved by the Service. The upcoming survey is designed to encompass all types of entities that sponsor habitat conservation banks—at both the corporate, or organizational, and the individual bank level—and aims to gather the following information through voluntary responses: (1) background information on the banks; (2) information about experience with the conservation banking program; (3) perceptions of technical and institutional obstacles encountered in the conservation banking program; and (4) perceptions of incentives that would help foster successful banks.
At this stage, the Service is requesting comments on the survey itself, specifically: (1) whether or not it is necessary and of practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the Service’s estimate of the burden for the survey; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the survey on respondents. The notice states that public comments on the survey are being accepted through August 24, 2015.