The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers conservation partnership agreements to private landowners that will help protect endangered species and still guarantee the landowners’ continued use of their property. These programs can also help in the fight against the proposed 345kv power line through the Hill Country.
USFWS Safe Harbor Agreements are available to landowners or groups of landowners who have habitat for endangered animal species on their property. In return for protecting this habitat the landowners are guaranteed that USFWS will not require any additional actions without the landowner’s consent. The landowner does not have to permanently follow this agreement, but will have to work with USFWS on the habitat management plan. Golden cheeked warblers and black capped vireos are the listed endangered species most likely to be found in Mason County.
Candidate Conservation Agreements are designed to protect plants and animals designated as candidates for federal endangered species listing. Participation in these agreements by creating a habitat protection plan guarantees that the landowner will not face additional requirements if the species are added to the endangered list. Yellow billed cuckoos are the candidate species most commonly found in Mason County. They are more likely to be found in this county than the two endangered birds.
How can these programs help in the fight against the power line? Luela Roberts, Chief, Consultations & HCPs, USFWS Austin office, says Safe Harbor or Candidate agreements "will not necessarily stop power line development", but "would likely increase costs to the developer- which could be an added incentive to develop elsewhere." The power line builder would have to pay not only for easements rights but also for the loss of endangered species habitat.
If a landowner goes to the trouble to identify and protect endangered species habitat on his property in partnership with these programs, he can have a powerful argument against anyone running a 345kv power line through his place. Some landowners in Kimble County have already signed USFWS Safe Harbor agreements.
For more information check the website at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/hcp/
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78758