Library Index » Science Encyclopedia » Working Toward Species Conservation - History Of Species Protection, The Endangered Species Act Of 1973—a Landmark Protection, Federal Lands And Wildlife Protection

Working Toward Species Conservation - Ecosystem Conservation—an Alternative Approach

national wildlife refuge hawaiian

In the 1990s there was growing concern that traditional methods of species protection, using a species-by-species approach, were ineffective. Many alternatives were proposed. One of the most popular was a method variously termed the "habitat," "ecosystem," or "community" approach. The Fish and Wildlife Service defines an ecosystem FIGURE 2.5
National Forest System, 2004
as a "geographic area including all the living organisms (people, plants, animals, and microorganisms), their physical surroundings (such as soil, water, and air), and the natural cycles that sustain them." Central to these approaches is a focus on conservation of large intact areas of habitat. It is hoped that by focusing on entire habitats, rather than individual species recovery, numerous species will be protected before they reach critically low population sizes.

The National Biological Service was created in 1993 by the Department of the Interior. This agency is responsible for gathering, analyzing, and disseminating biological information necessary for stewardship of the nation's resources. The National Biological Service conducted the first large-scale study of ecosystems in the United States and found that many U.S. ecosystems are imperiled. In 1996 the National Biological Service was integrated into the United States Geological Survey as the Biological Resources Division.

In 1993 the White House Office on Environmental Policy established the Interagency Ecosystem Management Task Force to implement an ecosystem approach to environmental management. The task force included representatives from each of the four primary federal land-management agencies. A total of $700 million was appropriated to facilitate the implementations. The ambitious proposals included four pilot projects addressing conservation of old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, habitats in the Everglades and Florida Bay, the urban watershed of the Anacostia River in Maryland and the District of Columbia, and Alaska's Prince William Sound. However, due to budget cuts enacted by Congress in 1994, efforts on the projects were sidelined.

By the turn of the twenty-first century, however, progress had been made on a number of key ecosystem fronts:

  • In the late 1990s the Clinton administration secured $1.2 billion for Everglades restoration and added 70,000 acres to the Everglades National Park.
  • A budget appropriation of $250 million was designated for the preservation of the Headwaters Forest in Northern California, where 2,000-year-old redwoods stand. Additionally, $220 million was appropriated for the restoration of the California Bay-Delta ecosystem, including $30 million in water management funds for the Bay-Delta.

TABLE 2.12
Summary of National Wildlife Refuge System land holdings, as of September 30, 1999 (In acres)

Reserved From Public Domain Acquired by Other Federal Agency Devise or Gift Purchased Agreement, Easement or Lease Total
82,085,483.61 2,717,198.55 664,254.82 4,532,441.93 3,605,242.69 93,604,621.6
SOURCE: "National Wildlife Refuge System Acreage," in Annual Report of Lands under Control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as of September 30, 1999, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC, September 30, 1999 [Online] http://refugedata.fws.gov/databases/national.taf?_function=list&<@UserReferenceArgument>&_start=1 [accessed February 10, 2004]
  • Death Valley National Park, the largest National Park in the lower 48 states, was created.
  • The Clinton administration successfully blocked congressional proposals to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, located in Alaska, to oil drilling. A second attempt to open the refuge to drilling was defeated by the Senate in 2002.

Adaptive Management

Adaptive management describes a conservation strategy that involves active, experimental manipulation of the environment in order to restore damaged ecosystems. It is being pursued in a variety of primarily aquatic habitats, including the Florida Everglades, San Francisco Bay, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

One of the oldest examples of adaptive management is an effort to restore Colorado River habitats by the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Colorado River ecosystems were originally damaged by water control measures following the completion of the Glen Canyon Dam at the northern edge of the Grand Canyon in 1963. The dam was built to store water for portions of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, as well as to provide hydroelectric power. Water flow management has caused severe ecological damage in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon National Park. This includes large-scale erosion, including the loss of sandy beaches, invasion by non-native species, and the extinction of four species of native fish. Another native fish species, the humpback chub, is currently in serious decline, partly because of the purposeful introduction of predatory rainbow trout. The

TABLE 2.13
National Wildlife Refuges for endangered species, 2004

State Unit name Species of concern Unit acreage
Alabama Blowing Wind Cave National Wildlife Refuge Indiana bat, gray bat 264
Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge Indiana bat, gray bat 199
Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge Alabama cavefish, gray bat 1,060
Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge Watercress darter 7
Arkansas Logan Cave National Wildlife Refuge Cave crayfish, gray bat, Indiana bat, Ozark cavefish 124
Arizona Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge Masked bobwhite quail 116,585
Leslie Canyon Gila topminnow, Yaqui chub, peregrine falcon 2,765
San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge Gila topminnow, Yaqui chub, Yaqui catfish, beautiful shiner, Huachuca water umbel 2,369
California Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge Lange's metalmark butterfly, Antioch dunes evening-primrose, Contra Costa wallflower 55
Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge California condor 14,054
Blue Ridge National Wildlife Refuge California condor 897
Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge Aleutian Canada goose 14
Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge Coachello Valley fringe-toed lizard 3,592
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge California clapper rail, California least tern, salt marsh harvest mouse 21,524
Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuge Santa Cruz long-toed salamander 139
Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge California condor 2,471
Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge Valley elderberry longhorn beetle, bald eagle, least Bell's vireo 7,884
San Diego National Wildlife Refuge San Diego fairy shrimp, San Diego mesa mint, Otay mesa mint, California orcutt grass, San Diego button celery 1,840
San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge Aleutian Canada goose 1,638
Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge Light-footed clapper rail, California least tern 911
Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge Light-footed clapper rail 316
Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge Light-footed clapper rail 1,023

humpback chub has been listed as endangered since 1967 and has declined by 75 percent in the last 10 years alone.

As adaptive management is dependent on experimentation and manipulation, it can sometimes lead to unintended and unfortunate consequences. For example, an early effort at restoring Colorado River habitats involved sending huge amounts of water down the river. This was expected to lift sand from the river bottom and create sandy beaches, and did. However, the sand was quickly

TABLE 2.13
National Wildlife Refuges for endangered species, 2004

State Unit name Species of concern Unit acreage
Florida Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge Loggerhead sea turtle, green sea turtle 29
Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge American crocodile 6,686
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge West Indian manatee 80
Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge Florida panther 23,379
Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge Loggerhead sea turtle, green sea turtle 980
Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge Florida scrub jay, snakeroot, scrub blazing star, Carter's mustard, papery whitlow wort, Florida bonamia, scrub lupine, highlands scrub hypericum, Garett's mint, scrub mint, pygmy gringe tree, wireweed, Florida ziziphus, scrub plum, eastern indigo snake, bluetail mole skink, sand skink 659
National Key Deer Refuge Key deer 8,542
St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge Dusky seaside sparrow 6,255
Hawaii Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Akepa, akiapolaau, 'o'u, Hawaiian hawk, Hawaiian creeper 32,730
Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian 917
Wildlife Refuge coot, Hawaiian moorhen, Hawaiian duck
Huleia National Wildlife Refuge Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian coot, Hawaiian moorhen, Hawaiian duck 241
James C. Campbell Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian 164
National Wildlife Refuge coot, Hawaiian moorhen, Hawaiian duck
Kakahaia National Wildlife Refuge Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian coot 45
Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian coot 691
Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge Hawaiian stilt 61
Iowa Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge Iowa Pleistocene snail 521
Massachusetts Massasoit National Wildlife Refuge Plymouth red-bellied turtle 184
Michigan Kirtland's warbler Wildlife Management Area Kirtland's warbler 6,535
Mississippi Mississippi sandhill crane National Wildlife Refuge Mississippi sandhill crane 19,713
Missouri Ozark cavefish National Wildlife Refuge Ozark cavefish 42
Pilot Knob National Wildlife Refuge Indiana bat 90
Nebraska Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge Bald eagle 19

lost again to fluctuating river flows. In 2003 attention turned to the Paria River, which supplies the Colorado River with sand. The Paria feeds into the Colorado downstream of the Glen Canyon Dam, and it is hoped that a large pulse of floodwater from the dam following natural monsoon storms will carry sand to new beaches along the Colorado. Another plan underway at the end of 2003 called for the running of high fluctuating flows of water

TABLE 2.13
National Wildlife Refuges for endangered species, 2004

State Unit name Species of concern Unit acreage
Nevada Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Devil's Hole pupfish, Warm Springs pupfish, Ash Meadows amargosa pupfish, Ash Meadows speckled dace, Ash Meadows naucorid, Ash Meadows blazing star, amargosa niterwort, Ash Meadows milk vetch, Ash Meadows sunray, Spring-loving centaury, Ash Meadows gumplant, Ash Meadows invesia 13,268
Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge Moapa dace 32
Oklahoma Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge Ozark big-eared bat, gray bat 2,208
Oregon Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge Bald eagle 4,200
Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for Columbian White-tail Deer Columbian white-tailed deer 2,750
Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge Aleutian Canada goose 457
South Dakota Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge Bald eagle 1,044
Texas Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge Attwater's greater prairie chicken 8,007
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge Black-capped vireo, Golden-cheeked warbler 14,144
Virgin Islands Green Cay National Wildlife Refuge St. Croix ground lizard 14
Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge Leatherback sea turtle 327
Virginia James River National Wildlife Refuge Bald eagle 4,147
Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge Bald eagle 2,276
Washington Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for Columbian White-tail Deer Columbian white-tailed deer 2,777
Wyoming Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge Wyoming toad 1,776
SOURCE: "National Wildlife Refuges Established for Endangered Species," in America's National Wildlife Refuge Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC, 2004 [Online] http://refuges.fws.gov/habitats/endSpRefuges.html [accessed February 10, 2004]

through the Grand Canyon for three months—this may kill rainbow trout eggs and reduce the numbers of this non-native species. Native fish species tend to inhabit side channels, and are less likely to be affected. There are also plans in place to warm water released from the dam, which the Fish and Wildlife Service believes would aid endangered native fish species.

Working Toward Species Conservation - International Efforts [next] [back] Working Toward Species Conservation - Federal Lands And Wildlife Protection

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or