Thanks to voluntary conservation agreements now in place, the dunes sagebrush lizard will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) determined that state-led Candidate Conservation Agreements, or CCAs, across much of the lizard’s habitat in New Mexico and Texas will adequately ensure the rare reptile’s long-term protection and recovery.
CCAs are formal, voluntary agreements between the FWS and one or more parties to address the conservation needs of plant and animal species that are candidates for listing under the ESA. CCAs give new hope to landowners who would like to avoid endangered species regulations for rare animals and plants on their property. Participants commit to implement specific actions designed to reduce threats to the covered species so that listing may not be necessary. For private property owners and other entities, CCAs come with additional incentives, such as assurances that if they engage in certain conservation actions for species included in the agreement, they will not be required to implement additional conservation measures beyond those in the CCA. For instance, additional land, water or resource use limitations will not be imposed on the landowner should the subject species become listed in the future.