U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
 
November 17, 2009
 
In Reply Refer To:
6841 (230) P
 
EMS TRANSMISSION 12/03/2009
Information Bulletin No. 2010-016
 
To:                   All State Directors
                        Attn: Deputy State Directors for Resources, Lands and Minerals
 
From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
 
Subject:           2010 BLM Endangered Species Recovery Fund
 
This Information Bulletin (IB) provides additional information on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Washington Office (WO) “Endangered Species Recovery Fund” (Recovery Fund) pilot program, responds to comments raised by the Deputy State Directors on the proposal, and affirms the Assistant Director commitment for implementation in 2010. The Recovery Fund is designed to support actions that directly implement recovery tasks identified in recovery plans leading to the eventual delisting of species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); and to support projects that will prevent the need to list candidate or proposed species. These funds will be allocated to mutually agreed upon species with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and will be directed to Field Offices for implementing on-the-ground actions.
 
Over the past 15 years, the BLM has received about $300 million in the 1150 subactivity for ESA-directed work, with about $21 million dollars per fiscal year (FY) since FY 2001.  Despite this level of funding, less than 4 percent of the 1,200 Priority 1 Recovery Tasks identified in recovery plans for implementation on BLM lands were accomplished.  Nearly 53 percent of the Priority 1 Tasks were never started. These recovery tasks are the primary means for delisting species.  This information, coupled with the BLM’s annual threatened and endangered species expenditure data (which indicates that several BLM States spent less than half of their allocation on ESA-listed species management) suggest that a change in the allocation and expenditure of 1150 funds is needed if the BLM is to accomplish a greater number of recovery tasks. Normally, the WO does not assign workloads that directly identify recovery tasks; however, we believe committing less than 6 percent of the 1150 subactivity allocation in FY 2010 to recovery tasks is a responsible decision, and therefore plan to proceed with implementing the Recovery Fund for the next 3 years. 
 
The WO has already received assurances from the FWS that this is a significant step in leading to the delisting of species. The FWS has expressed strong support for and commitment to this pilot program and will work with the BLM to ensure meaningful progress is made on species recovery and delisting. The FWS is working with WO staff to identify those listed species that represent the highest potential for delisting and those candidate species where a listing may be precluded. The species identified by the BLM State Threatened and Endangered Species (TES) Program Leads serves as the initial screen for this assessment.
 
Based on feedback from the States and through collaborative discussions with the FWS, the Recovery Fund will be implemented in the following manner. Species identified by TES Program Leads are being reviewed by the FWS to determine the extent of the recovery actions needed, and whether or not completion of the recovery tasks will serve to expedite delisting. This species list has been supplemented by the FWS with other species that occur only on BLM lands, and with all recovery tasks assigned to the BLM. This new comprehensive list of species will be further screened against the FWS “Spotlight” species list (which includes candidates and proposed species) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Keystone Initiatives Program. This screening is anticipated to narrow the number of species where funding can be focused to delist species (or preclude the need to list) and where broader scale ecosystem conservation goals can be met. A final species list will be shared with State Directors to determine if the capacity exists in potentially affected Field Offices to complete the recovery tasks. If so, those species/recovery tasks will receive funding. 
 
Feedback on the original Recovery Fund proposal was provided to the WO by Deputy State Directors and State Office Program. In general, comments cover the following topics:  (1) the method the WO will use to respond to BLM State Office comments; (2) clarification on the funding for the pilot program; (3) assurances that multi-subactivity project funding will not be discouraged; and, (4) how priorities and multi-year efforts will be addressed. Responses to these four topics are provided below.
 
Disposition of BLM State Office Comments: The WO will address the State Office issues and concerns in this IB and will incorporate changes into the project selection criteria to address specific issues. Issues include:  (1) priorities need to be expanded to include recovery tasks where BLM land, although important, does not provide 100 percent of the habitat for listed species; (2) the focus of the pilot program is mainly on species rather than habitat; (3) multi-state awards need to be considered to address recovery actions that span state boundaries; (4) better descriptions and examples of selection criteria are needed; (5) projects must make a difference; and, (6) the funding needs to be expanded to address other BLM sensitive species that are not proposed or candidate species.  The following are responses to the specific concerns:
  1. Funding consideration will be expanded to include recovery tasks that complete 100 percent of the BLM obligation for the species, but the action may not lead to delisting.
  2. The focus is not solely on species. The ESA holds Federal agencies responsible for both the species and habitat, so parsing and focusing on one, rather than both, defeats the purpose of the Act. Recovery tasks are very explicit and direct the agencies very clearly on the actions to be taken in the recovery plan.
  3. Species that cover multiple states will be considered.
  4. Project selection criteria were modified to reflect the agreements between the BLM and the FWS. There will be no solicitation of projects the WO will ask State Directors to document a schedule for completing recovery tasks associated with the species selected, or for identifying the conservation actions that will be undertaken for candidate species to address threats that would otherwise lead to listing. Species will be selected where a true difference in status can be made.
  5. This concern illustrates the importance of establishing such a fund, as the Recovery Fund, rather than continuing to invest funds using the established allocation formula.
  6. The WO will not expand the pilot program to cover recovery actions that address non-candidate, non-proposed, or non-listed species. There are over 150 ESA listed species where BLM land provides over 50 percent of the known habitat. It is, therefore, important for the BLM to focus the limited funding of the pilot program for these recovery efforts. 
Pilot Program Funding: This pilot program does not reduce any base 1150 program funding from the States’ 2009 base allocation. Funds to support this pilot program will come from three sources: $500,000 from an existing (since 2007) threatened and endangered species incentive fund (funds are allocated on a competitive basis), $493,000 from “restore core funding” (one time funds allocated in FY 2008 and FY 2009 on a competitive basis), and $253,000 from a general program increase. All of the funds associated with approved projects will be allocated to the appropriate Field Office. If future program budgets face reduction, this pilot program funding will be reduced prior to any reduction in BLM State Office base allocations. However, reductions to base programs may still occur if performance is not satisfactory, as currently directed by the BLM’s Activity Based Cost (ABC) budget requirements.
 
Multi-funding of Project Proposals: This pilot program encourages seeking additional funding to leverage the pilot program’s limited funds. For example, the NFWF Keystone Initiatives program serves as a potential funding partner to accelerate the completion of recovery tasks or   conservation actions for candidate species. 
 
Project Priorities and Multi-year Project Selections: Piecemeal approaches to funding meaningful, long-term project work simply do not work. This pilot program provides a mechanism to ensure continuity of funding for multi-year projects that will make a difference in species conservation and recovery. A review of selected species and the State Directors’ affirmation of capacity to complete work will ensure that selected species and tasks can accomplish either delisting, or prevent the listing, of species under the ESA.
 
This is an exciting opportunity for the BLM and I look forward to working with you and the FWS to implement projects to delist or prevent species from being listed under the ESA. If you have any questions regarding how this program will be implemented, please call Dwight Fielder, Chief, Division of Fish, Wildlife and Plant Conservation at 202-912-7230.
 
Signed by:                                                       Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                           Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                            Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning
 

 
Last updated: 12-03-2009