Endangered Species Recovery Fund
A priority of the BLM’s Threatened and Endangered Species Program is to recover listed plant and animal species occurring on public lands so they can be removed from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species as well as to recover species that are "candidates" for listing to preclude the need to list them. This is especially important for species that depend on BLM-managed public lands to provide a majority of their habitat. (More than 150 listed species, and a number of candidate species, are in this category.)
The BLM estimates that a number of species could be delisted (or downlisted from endangered to threatened) if targeted funding were directed to the specific recovery actions needed. In 2010, the BLM established a pilot Endangered Species Recovery Fund where approximately $1.5 million dollars is awarded competitively each year for three years for key recovery tasks that culminate in a delisting or downlisting of a listed species or removal of a species from candidate consideration. The BLM coordinates with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to achieve these objectives and to focus funds where species recovery on BLM lands would be optimized. BLM Field Offices use these funds to implement on-the-ground recovery actions identified in recovery plans.
The Recovery Fund represents a small portion of total program funding for the BLM’s threatened and endangered species program (which has averaged about $21 million per year since 2001), but can have a significant positive impact on individual species.
By focusing on those projects that play a significant role in recovery, or in preventing the need to list a species, the BLM hopes to make a major contribution toward recovery, and eventual delisting, of specific species, while continuing to invest significant resources on habitat conservation to benefit all wildlife and plants on the public lands.
BLM Endangered Species Recovery Fund Case Study
Hope for an Endangered Lily
The endangered Gentner’s fritillary is a rare and beautiful lily found mostly in the Rogue River Valley of southwestern Oregon. (Two small populations were recently discovered in California’s Klamath River Watershed.) Today, the species exists on fewer than 200 sites; about 75 percent of its habitat is on BLM-managed lands within the BLM’s Medford District. The total occupied habitat is small (less than 150 acres), and the average population size of mature flowering plants is about 12.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) listed the species as endangered in 1999 and finalized a recovery plan in 2003. According to the Service, causes of the species’ decline include residential development, agricultural activities, logging, fire suppression, road and trail maintenance, off-road-vehicle use, and collecting for gardens. Listed plant species do not have federal protection on private lands; therefore, protection on public lands becomes all the more important, often offering the best hope for a plant species survival.
The BLM is currently working with the Service, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Institute for Applied Ecology and several local contractors to implement the recovery plan. According to the plan, both augmentation of existing populations and creation of new populations are needed to delist this species. Sustained, focused funding of this task over the next few years could bring the species to the point of being downlisted to threatened and possibly delisted after that.
Using BLM challenge cost share grants and, more recently, the Recovery Fund, the BLM and the Oregon Department of Agriculture are collecting bulblets (each bulb produces about 50 bulblets) of the lily in the field, propagating them in greenhouses and transplanting them into existing populations on protected lands of the Rogue River Valley including the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument. The plants are closely monitored, both in greenhouses where bulblets are produced and grown, and in the field where they are cultivated. The project produced more than 5,000 plants in 2010 and is expected to produce at least that many in 2011. Delisting would require 1,000 stable flowering plants in each of four recovery areas.
The Institute for Applied Ecology is conducting long-term demographic monitoring of the most important sites to develop an understanding of the factors influencing reproduction and survival of the species over time. One study, Pickett Creek, has been monitoring one of the largest known populations of Gentner’s fritillary since 2002. Monitoring is an important component of the recovery plan.
Once the population goals identified in the recovery plan are met and monitoring assures populations are stable, downlisting or delisting could occur. The high probability of delisting the species if the reintroduction efforts are successful makes this an excellent candidate for targeted funding under the Endangered Species Recovery Fund.
BLM Endangered Species Recovery Fund Case Study
Oregon's Endangered Borax Lake Chub Recovering
The Borax Lake chub is a small endangered minnow that exists as a single population in Borax Lake, a 10-acre water body that sits atop salt deposits and is fed by numerous hot springs in southeastern Oregon. The Borax Lake ecosystem is unique, remote and vulnerable.
Although the Borax Lake chub does not actually live on BLM-managed lands, the BLM manages adjacent lands that are important to the health of the ecosystem supporting the species. The chub’s designated critical habitat covers about 620 acres; about half is BLM land and the other half, including the geothermally-heated lake, is on private land acquired and managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). BLM and its partners TNC, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have completed a number of recovery actions since the chub was listed in 1982, and, as a result, populations have increased.
The outlook for the species is good, thanks to the sustained work of these partners over several decades; however, because of the restricted and special nature of the species’ range, its habitat must be carefully managed to minimize impacts that could be caused by off-highway vehicle (OHV) use and the introduction of nonnative species.
In order to enhance chub habitat and protect the fragile lake shoreline, the BLM is working with partners to build a fence on public land that will connect with private land fencing. One of the few remaining actions of the recovery plan for the species, installing the fence will keep OHVs from the rim of the lake. The BLM is funding the project from the Endangered Species Recovery Fund and partners are providing volunteer labor. BLM also has designated these public lands as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, placing increased management attention on this special habitat