Threatened, endangered, and sensitive species refers to plant, animal, and other living organisms which are, to some level, threatened by extinction. Federal and State governments have management responsibility to protect and restore imperiled species and the critical habitat which supports them.
Federal designation is provided to critically imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is responsible for conservation of terrestrial and freshwater aquatic species which are endangered or threatened with extinction due to:
- Loss of habitat
- Disease and predation
- Inadequate protection
- Other natural and man made factors
UDNR.DWR.Habitat CHAT= Western Governors’ Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool.
UDNR.DWR.SageGrouseLeks= Greater sage grouse occupied leks.
UDNR.DWR.SageGrouseManagementAreas= Sage grouse management areas.
UDNR.DWR.Sensitive Species= Utah Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Species Occurrences by Quad.
Download mxd The ESRI mxd file of the services used to create the above map.
Information about federally listed species by county can be obtained from the USFWS Environmental Conservation Online System, or ECOS.
For sensitive species in Utah not protected by the ESA, the Utah the Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) is tasked with conservation (Section 23-14-1-2a). Utah’s primary objective for managing sensitive species is to maintain wildlife and their habitat well enough to prevent federal designation. Once federally designated, the state loses primacy for the management of the species. This implies federal regulation of activities that may directly threaten listed species or the habitat in the species inhabit. From a state and local perspective, federal designation of endangered species means less local control of land use issues, which might cause harm to the designated species.
Utah’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan stated goal is “to manage native wildlife species and their habitats, sufficient to prevent the need for additional listings under the Endangered Species Act.” (pg 3)  This goal precludes plants.
- S-ESA. Federally-listed or candidate species under the Endangered Species Act.
- CS. Species receiving special management under a Conservation Agreement in order to preclude the need for Federal listing.
- SPC. Species of concern.
Utah’s State Listed Animal Species (by county) from the Utah Natural Heritage Program can be found here. Plant species are not considered in the UDWR county list, but the Utah Native Plant Society provides more information about rare plant species in Utah.
The Sage Grouse Leks data and the Sage Grouse Management Areas data can be used to locate sage grouse habitat or populations within the county. The DWR Sensitive Species data is 7.5 minute topographic quad level data. Click on a quad to see the sensitive species in that general location. The CHAT data (Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool) is a landscape ranking of habitat.
Economic Analysis of Critical Habitat Designations
The ESA prohibits consideration of economic impacts when determining whether to list a species, but it does require consideration of economic impacts when designating critical habitat. “Because of its huge impact on land use, the designation of critical habitat is one of the most controversial and heavily litigated areas of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).” In 2013 the USFWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a final rule regarding how and when these agencies evaluate the economic impacts of critical habitat designation.
Funding for Non-game Species and the Utah Wildlife Action Plan
Species extinctions in the late 19th century and early 20th century triggered national awareness and response in the form of active wildlife management. “Many species pursued today by hunters and anglers would have been considered ‘endangered with extinction’ if that phrase had been in common use during the early 20th Century.” Much of the funding for subsequent conservation successes came from hunter and angler license fees and habitat stamps and federal excise taxes on shooting, boating, and fishing equipment. These sources may indirectly benefit some “non-game” species, but in general funding is harder to come by for these species.
“In 1997, as part of the state water tax, the Utah Legislature created the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund (ESMF) which significantly expanded the funding base for conservation of wildlife species which are designated as Utah Sensitive Species or are ESA-listed. The purpose of this fund is to avoid, reduce, and/or mitigate impacts of ESA listings on the people of Utah.”
“The Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2002 created the federal State Wildlife Grants program (SWG), which enables Congressional appropriators to consider funding wildlife and habitat conservation on a year-to-year basis. This law requires that each state have a current, approved Wildlife Action Plan to remain eligible for any SWG funding that Congress appropriates to the federal program. States that choose to participate in the SWG program must review and revise their Wildlife Action Plans at least once every 10 years, if they want to maintain their eligibility.” Utah’s initial Wildlife Action Plan was completed and approved in 2005, and there is currently a 2015 draft available.
Threatened and Endangered Species
Impact considerations related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) include:
- Section 9 of the ESA prohibits “take” of federally listed threatened and endangered species.
- Under Section 10, non-federal entities can apply for “incidental take” authorization when a project or activity does not involve a federal action and the take would be incidental to, and not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity (16 U.S.C. §1539(a)(1)(A-B)).
- Actions and decisions by federal agencies that have potential to affect threatened and endangered species must comply with Section 7 of the ESA.
- The USFWS has an on-line system, IPaC, to assist with project-level Section 7 and Section 10 compliance.
|Level 1 Threats to SGCNs and Key Habitats||Total Threat Score|
|Natural System Modifications||417|
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes||277|
|Human Intrusions and Disturbance||211|
|Transportation and Service Corridors||180|
|Energy Production and Mining||179|
|Climate Change and Severe Weather||151|
|Improper Agriculture and Aquaculture||138|
|Residential and Commercial Development||127|
|Biological Resource Use||75|
|Data Name||Data Explanation||Publication Date||Spatial Accuracy||Contact|
|Sage Grouse Management Areas|
|Location of sage grouse management areas that encompass the highest breeding density areas||2015||1:5,000||Utah Division of Wildlife Resources|
|Western Governors’ Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool|
|Ranked hexagons of crucial habitat areas to help with greater certainty and predictability in planning efforts|
1 = highest quality habitat
6 = lowest quality habitat
|12/2013||640 acre hexagons||Utah Division of Wildlife Resourcesand
Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies CHAT
|Utah Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Species Occurrences|
|Use to generally locate Utah's federally and state listed threatened, endangered, and sensitive animal and plant species||11/2015||1:24,000||Utah Division of Wildlife Resources|
|Greater Sage Grouse Occupied Leks|
|Known, active, occupied Greater sage-grouse leks.||2015||1:5,000||Utah Division of Wildlife Resources|
- Utah Department of Natural Resources, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. 2015. Utah Wildlife Action Plan, Draft Version 6-4-2015.
- Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife Resources. 2015. Utah Sensitive Species List. Salt Lake City, USA.
- Petersen, R. 2013. Government Issues Final Rule on Economic Impact Analyses for Endangered Species Act Habitat Designations. Holland & Knight.
- Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife Resources. 2013. Conservation Plan for Greater Sage-grouse in Utah. February 14.