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Endangered Spcies Act: Many Recommendations Have Been Implemented, but Some Issues Remain Unresolved
Robin Nazzaro (au)
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 protects plant and animal species that are either facing extinction (endangered species) or are likely to face extinction in the foreseeable future (threatened species) and protects the ecosystems upon which they depend. The act includes provisions for listing species that need protection, designating habitat deemed critical to a listed species' survival, developing recovery plans, and protecting listed species against certain harms caused by fed. and nonfed. actions. Since the act's inception, more than 1,300 species occurring in the U.S. or its territoriest have been placed on the list of threatened and endangered species. The Dept. of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Dept. of Commerce's Nat. Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are responsible for admin. and implementation of the ESA, but all fed. agencies have responsibilities for protecting species under the act. The act has long been a lightning rod for political debate about the extent to which the nation's natural resources should be protected and how best to protect them. Litigation regarding various aspects of implementation of the act has consumed considerable program resources. Over the last 10 years, GAO has reported on many of the major program areas of the ESA -- listing, critical habitat, recovery, and the consultation process by which fed. agencies ensure that their actions do not cause certain harms to listed species -- and have made a number of recommendations for improvements. This report discusses recommendations that have been implemented and those that have not. Illus.
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