7 CFR 650.22 - Rare, threatened, and endangered species of plants and animals.
(a) Background. (1) A variety of plant and animal species of the United States are so reduced in numbers that they are threatened with extinction. The disappearance of any of these would be a biological, cultural, and in some instances an economic loss. Their existence contributes to scientific knowledge and understanding, and their presence adds interest and variety to life.
(2) The principal hazard to threatened and endangered species is the destruction or deterioration of their habitats by human activities such as industrialization, urbanization, agriculture, lumbering, recreation, and transportation. These activities of man will continue but the necessity of recognizing their adverse impacts and selecting alternatives that minimize or eliminate such impacts on threatened and endangered species is imperative.
(3) The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-205, 87 Stat. 884 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.)) provides a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend may be maintained and a program for the conservation of such species. The Act also provides that, in addition to the Department of the Interior, “All other federal departments and agencies shall, in consultation with and with the assistance of the Secretary (of Interior), utilize their authorities for the conservation of endangered species and threatened species listed pursuant to section 4 of this Act and by taking such action necessary to insure that actions authorized, funded, or carried out by them do not jeopardize the continued existence of such endangered species and threatened species or result in the destruction or modification of habitat of such species which is determined by the Secretary, after consultation as appropriate with the affected states, to be critical.” The Act also:
(i) Defines endangered species as any species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range and threatened species as any species likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The Act uses the category “threatened.” The term “rare” is not used.
(ii) Further defines species as including any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants and any other group of fish and wildlife of the same species or smaller taxa in common spatial arrangements that interbreed when mature.
(iii) Provides for the Secretary of the Interior to enter into cooperative agreements with states for the purpose of implementing state programs for the conservation of endangered and threatened fish and wildlife. This assistance may include financial grants.
(iv) Provides national lists of endangered and threatened animal and plant species to be maintained by the Secretary of the Interior and published in the Federal Register. When resident fish and wildlife are added to the list, the affected states are to be consulted by the Secretary. The Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution is preparing a list of endangered or threatened plant species.
(b) Policy. The Act gives NRCS additional direction for participation in the conservation and protection of endangered and threatened species. As the principal federal agency concerned with land use planning of privately owned rural land and with professional conservation employees headquartered in almost every county, NRCS is uniquely capable of playing a vital role. Additional training will be provided as needed to meet NRCS responsibilities. NRCS will assist in the conservation of threatened and endangered species and consistent with legal requirements avoid or prevent activities detrimental to such species. NRCS concern for these species will not be limited to those listed by the Secretary of the Interior and published in the Federal Register, but will include species designated by state agencies as rare, threatened, endangered, etc.
(c) Responsibility -
(1) NRCS national office. The Administrator will arrange for consultation and coordination of NRCS national office activities with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other federal agencies, and national organizations.
(2) Technical service center. The TSC director will, within the group of states served by the TSC arrange for consultation and coordination with regional representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other Federal agencies, and national and regional organizations.
(3) NRCS state office. The state conservationist will arrange for consultation and coordination with the state fish and game or conservation agency, other state agencies, state organizations and foundations, conservation districts, and state representatives of federal agencies and national organizations.
(d) Coordination and implementation. (1) The NRCS national office will:
(i) Within the framework of national legislation, USDA agreements, and NRCS objectives, develop NRCS policies and directives for guiding agency efforts that will protect threatened and endangered species and for avoiding actions that jeopardize the continued existence of such species and their critical habitats.
(ii) Maintain needed liaison and develop mutual understanding with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other concerned federal agencies.
(iii) Establish procedures for periodic review of NRCS participation in the national effort to conserve these species.
(2) The TSC director will: (i) Within the framework of NRCS policies and guidelines, arrange for needed liaison and understanding with regional counterparts of other federal agencies within the group of states served by the TSC and keep state conservationists informed of developments within such states.
(ii) Provide guidance and assistance to state conservationists in carrying out NRCS policies and guidelines.
(3) The state conservationist will develop procedures to establish working relationships with other concerned federal agencies, state fish and wildlife or conservation agencies, conservation districts, concerned scientists in state university systems and natural history museums, and other informed persons and organizations to offer assistance in:
(i) Preparing or maintaining lists of the state's threatened and endangered species.
(ii) Determining the geographic occurrence of endangered and threatened species, the nature of their habitat, and that portion of the habitat that is critical to the survival, maintenance, or increase of these species.
(iii) Discussing the kinds of measures important to preserve their habitat.
(iv) A monitoring program that would obtain advanced warning of actions or conditions that could further endanger these species, thereby enabling NRCS and others to take appropriate protective action.
(v) Assisting recovery teams, as appropriate, in preparing species recovery plans of those endangered and threatened species included in Federal lists.
(4) The state conservationist will also:
(i) Keep NRCS area and field offices informed of species listed as being threatened or endangered, geographic area in which they are found, and information such as their numbers, preferred habitat, and critical factors.
(ii) Review the status of threatened and endangered species each December and send a report of the review to the Administrator.
(5) NRCS district conservationists within the geographic range of threatened and endangered species will examine conservation district programs and NRCS operations to evaluate their effects on these species, and recommend to district officials and the state conservationist any action needed for their protection.
(6) NRCS field employees within the geographic range of threatened and endangered species will be continually alert to conditions, actions, or trends that may adversely affect the welfare of these species and report adverse situations to the state conservationist.