Forest Forum Focuses on Private Forest Landowners, Endangered Species, Increased Collaboration
On Wednesday, June 1 the Forest Landowners Association held a forest forum with key members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The forum preceded the National Conference of Private Forest Landowners and focused on endangered species and the role that private forest landowners can play in efforts to protect those species.
The discussion centered on three key ideas. First, participants all noted that the ultimate goal was to provide habitat that kept species from becoming endangered. Next, participants discussed how private forest landowners and the state and federal agencies could do for species already listed as endangered or threatened. Finally, participants brainstormed about approaches to increase communication and collaboration between private forest landowners and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A recurring theme of the discussion was working towards a situation whereby private forest landowners saw less risk in working with state and federal agencies on threatened and endangered species conservation. Specifically, Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs) and what they can mean for forest landowners was discussed in detail. Participants agreed that there is confusion about CCAAs and private forest landowners resist exploring them because of their perception of program.
A number of action items were determined during the forum including the formation of committee to review national working list of potential endangered or threatened species, the use of third parties to collect data on species on private lands to submit to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the near term opportunity for members of the Forest Landowners Association to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to generate interest for enrolling in CCAA in that state.