The Monarch Butterfly is a species of concern, but not currently “listed” as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. In advance of the potential, and some would say likely, listing of the Monarch Butterfly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) has published for public comment a program it hopes will attract landowners and developers in the butterfly’s anticipated habitat who wish to avoid future regulatory concerns related to the eventual listing of the butterfly. The program is available for public comments until June 14, 2019. More information on the program can be found here.
If accepted, non-federal landowners can voluntarily agree to undertake land management activities to support the conservation of the butterfly in exchange for assurances that no additional conservation measures or land, water, or resource use restrictions will be imposed under the Endangered Species Act. Benefits of this voluntary program include incidental take authorization should the butterfly become a listed species and positive public relations.
Examples of the proposed conservation measures include:
Establishing and using native seed mixes containing a diversity of wildflowers including milk weed,
Minimizing use of grazing in monarch habitat during peak breeding and migration periods,
Removing woody plants in densely covered shrub areas and invasive plant species to promote grassland habitats,
Sustaining idle lands with suitable habitat, and
Using conservation mowing to enhance floral resources and habitat.
Please note the agreement includes activities supporting the operations of existing rights of ways and associated lands but not the construction of new pipelines.
If you have questions about how the Endangered Species Act can impact your business, contact the author of this alert.