Today, Paul Souza, the Service’s Southwest Pacific Regional Director, and Richard Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment and Energy Resilience, will come together to celebrate the conservation success of these species and four decades of partnership between the Service and the Navy at an event at the Coronado Naval Base.
“The recoveries we are celebrating today at this unique location demonstrate what is possible when partners work together under the Endangered Species Act,” Service Director Martha Williams said of the announcement. “Across the country, the Service and its partners have ensured that hundreds of species are stable or improving. We are grateful for the Navy’s leadership and long-term commitment to recovery efforts that have allowed us to bring these species back from the brink of extinction.”
“The Navy is proud to have shared more than 40 years of collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to improve habitat and recover these species,” said Karnig Ohannessian, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Environment and Mission Preparation. “This announcement is a milestone in our efforts and should be celebrated. The Navy remains committed to our conservation efforts on San Clemente Island and to being good stewards of the natural resources we manage as part of our national security mission.”
The delisting of the five species comes as the Endangered Species Act turns 50 in 2023. Throughout the year, the Department of the Interior will celebrate the importance of the ESA in preventing the extinction of endangered species, promoting recovery of wildlife and conserve the habitats on which they depend. The ESA has been very effective and is credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. So far, more than 100 plant and animal species have been delisted based on recovery or reclassified from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status, and hundreds more species are stable or improving thanks to the collaborative actions of tribes, federal, state, and local government agencies, conservation organizations, and private citizens.
San Clemente Island is one of eight islands that make up the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. Today’s successful recovery of four plants and one bird adds to the list of species that have now been successfully recovered on the islands, including the island night lizard, island fox, and Santa Island dudleya. Cross and straw on the island. Bald eagle and peregrine falcon populations decimated by DDT impacts have also recovered nationally and are successfully breeding in the Channel Islands.
With climate change, including drought and rising sea levels, many species face new challenges. Habitat conservation plans, recovery planning, and habitat conservation through grants to states are ESA tools necessary to safeguard our native species and their habitats for future generations.
San Clemente Island is the primary maritime training area for the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and Sea, Air, and Ground Forces. Before the island was transferred to the Navy, heavy grazing by non-native herbivores largely stripped it of its habitat, leading to the decline of numerous native plants and animals.
The Navy prioritized the removal of all non-native herbivores from the island, allowing the habitat to recover. What was once a largely arid landscape is now home to numerous endemic plant and animal species, including the five species removed from federal endangered and threatened species lists.
Additional efforts to aid the recovery of the species include the Navy’s development of an Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan, a long-range planning document that balances the mission of the facility with the conservation and management of its resources. natural resources, and the implementation of erosion and fire control measures, surveys and monitoring.
The final rule is available at the federal register reading room today and will be published on January 25, 2023. Copies of the final rule and supporting documents can be found at www.regulations.gov by searching under docket number FWS-R8-ES-2020-0074.
Photos of the San Clemente Island species are available at the following link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw/albums/72157715289802288