ASDSO Dam Safety Toolbox

Protected Species

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"When Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, it recognized that our rich natural heritage is of 'esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our nation and its people.' It further expressed concern that many of our nation’s native plants and animals were in danger of becoming extinct."[1]

"The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) administer the ESA. (USFWS) primary responsibilities are for terrestrial and freshwater organisms, while the responsibilities of NMFS are mainly marine wildlife such as whales and anadromous fish such as salmon."[1]

"Under the ESA, species may be listed as either endangered or threatened. 'Endangered' means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. 'Threatened' means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. All species of plants and animals, except pest insects, are eligible for listing as endangered or threatened. For the purposes of the ESA, Congress defined species to include subspecies, varieties, and, for vertebrates, distinct population segments."[1]

Throughout its history, the ESA has proven to be incredibly effective in stabilizing populations of species at risk, preventing the extinction of many others, and conserving the habitats upon which they depend. The USFWS works to conserve and recover endangered and threatened species by listing species under the ESA and designating critical habitat, developing protective regulations for threatened species, developing and implementing recovery plans for listed species, monitoring and evaluating the status of listed species, and, cooperating with non-federal partners to develop conservation plans.[1]

Reservoirs and other waterways are common habitats for endangered and threatened species. Dam construction or modification projects should take into account the potential for these types of impacts.


Revision ID: 6127
Revision Date: 12/20/2022