Forest Management

Best Management Practices

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (ESA)

The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 to prevent the extinction of imperiled animals and plants. It is one of the most far-reaching laws ever enacted by any country. Congress established this act because it recognized that all species "are of aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people."

An endangered species is one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The act also protects species that are threatened of extinction within the foreseeable future. In South Carolina, there are 613 vertebrates (animals with backbones) native to this state. Twenty-nine (29) are listed as endangered or threatened. Of the 3,000 different kinds of plants found in South Carolina, almost 300 are considered rare, threatened or endangered.

Red Cockaded Woodpecker Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the illegal possession, import, export, or interstate or foreign sale of a listed species. It also makes it illegal to take (which is defined as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect) a listed species from the wild. So if a species listed as endangered or threatened is on your property, you must avoid a "taking" of that species. Penalties for violations can range from a warning and seizure of illegally held wildlife specimens and products to a maximum fine of $50,000 and/or a year in jail for criminal offenses.

Section 7 of the ESA requires federal agency not to jeopardize the existence of a listed species or adversely affect critical habitat through programs they authorize. Federal programs affected by Section 7 would include all federally funded cost share assistance programs. This would include the Agricultural Conservation Program (ACP), Forestry Incentives Program (FIP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and Stewardship Incentive Program (SIP).

In order to help landowners avoid inadvertently violating the ESA, every effort should be made to identify if any listed species is on the property. If a listed species is located, additional guidance and management recommendations can be obtained from the Forestry Commission, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Forest Management / Environmental Management