The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has released a National Listing Workplan outlining its planned approach to address a backlog of Endangered Species Act listing petitions and critical habitat decisions for species over the next seven years. The Workplan includes 30 candidate species that FWS previously determined warrant ESA protection, as well as 320 other species based on third party listing petitions, and 11 species FWS has determined to evaluate as discretionary status reviews.
The Workplan utilizes FWS’ new methodology for prioritizing status reviews published earlier this year. Under this methodology, FWS uses a bin approach by placing each species in one of five bins based on various components of the listing petition for that species. FWS prioritizes the review of species that appear to be critically imperiled; followed by those species for which the Service has strong data available; and those species for which new science is underway to better inform key uncertainties. Lower prioritization is given to species for which conservation efforts are in development or underway and the least consideration is given to those species for which there is limited data.
The Workplan includes details regarding the type of action FWS is taking with respect to the species (e.g. proposed listing determination, 12 month review, and discretionary status review), which Regional Office will take the lead in the review process, the proposed prioritization bin number assigned to the species, and the proposed fiscal year timeframe for review. The Workplan also indicates which states comprise the species’ range.
The Workplan includes several species that are being closely tracked such as the monarch butterfly, which FWS plans to review in 2019, as well as the western bumble bee, the gopher tortoise, and the little brown bat, which will not be reviewed until 2023 under the Workplan.