Texas A&M Law Review

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Currently, the Endangered Species Act is falling short of its potential. Even though the Endangered Species Act has provided protection for endangered and threatened species and helped some species to recover and even thrive, the fact that most listed species’ habitat is on private land remains a hurdle that has not yet been overcome. In fact, the stringent requirements imposed upon private landowners often put endangered and threatened species at risk as some private landowners will use any means possible to stop the government from finding endangered or threatened species on their land. Because of this, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service should consider implementing a policy of collaborative management to ensure that protected species receive the protection they need to recover and thrive. To do this, the agency should consider applications by private landowners to participate in the collaborative process on a case-by-case basis and work with a strong, preferably neutral, entity to ensure that no individual stakeholder—whether government, company, or individual—takes advantage of the collaborative process. These policies can be best implemented through the Endangered Species Act’s experimental populations clause before moving the collaborative-management policy towards broader implementation across other areas of the Endangered Species Act. Right now, the question is no longer if agencies can implement collaborative strategies, but how these agencies can begin the process of reforming their regulations to include collaboration. Therefore, this Article offers recommendations on how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can implement collaborative management to best protect both endangered and threatened species and provide incentives to private landowners to participate in the process.

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