Skip to Highlights
Highlights

Authorization for several conservation programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) expires in 2007, raising questions about how these programs may be modified, including how they can better support conservation of threatened and endangered species. Private landowners receive funding under these programs to implement conservation projects directed at several resource concerns, including threatened and endangered species. In this report, GAO discusses (1) stakeholder views on the incentives and disincentives to participating in USDA programs for the benefit of threatened and endangered species and their suggestions for addressing identified disincentives and (2) coordination efforts by USDA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to benefit threatened and endangered species. In performing this work, GAO conducted telephone surveys with a nonprobability sample of over 150 federal and nonfederal officials and landowners.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture 1. To enhance and sustain coordination at USDA's and FWS's field offices at the state and local level for the benefit of threatened, endangered, and other at-risk species, the Secretaries of Agriculture and of the Interior should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Director of FWS to work with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) to incorporate monitoring and reporting mechanisms in their memorandum of understanding prior to finalizing it for implementation.
Closed - Implemented
In our November 2006 report "USDA Conservation Programs: Stakeholder Views on Participation and Coordination to Benefit Threatened and Endangered Species and Their Habitats," we found that a draft memorandum between the Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) that had the goal of improved coordination for the benefit of threatened endangered and other at-risk species could be improved if the parties incorporated a mechanism to monitor and report on implementation. In February 2007, NRCS and FWS signed a memorandum of understanding with AFWA that incorporated monitoring and reporting measures.
Department of the Interior 2. To enhance and sustain coordination at USDA's and FWS's field offices at the state and local level for the benefit of threatened, endangered, and other at-risk species, the Secretaries of Agriculture and of the Interior should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Director of FWS to work with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) to incorporate monitoring and reporting mechanisms in their memorandum of understanding prior to finalizing it for implementation.
Closed - Implemented
In our November 2006 report "USDA Conservation Programs: Stakeholder Views on Participation and Coordination to Benefit Threatened and Endangered Species and Their Habitats," we found that a draft memorandum between the Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) that had the goal of improved coordination for the benefit of threatened endangered and other at-risk species could be improved if the parties incorporated a mechanism to monitor and report on implementation. In February 2007, NRCS and FWS signed a memorandum of understanding with AFWA that incorporated monitoring and reporting measures.
Department of Agriculture 3. To enhance and sustain coordination at USDA's and FWS's field offices at the state and local level for the benefit of threatened, endangered, and other at-risk species, the Secretaries of Agriculture and of the Interior should direct the Chief of NRCS, the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency, and the Director of FWS, in cooperation with AFWA, to include FSA as an additional partner to the memorandum or develop a separate memorandum of understanding to address coordination.
Closed - Not Implemented
In our November 2006 report "USDA Conservation Programs: Stakeholder Views on Participation and Coordination to Benefit Threatened and Endangered Species and Their Habitats," we found that a draft memorandum of understanding between the Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not include the Farm Service Agency, a key agency which administers the largest conservation program in the United States, and thus, fails to capitalize on the opportunity to coordinate investments in programs to better address risk species and their habitat. The agencies have been unable to reach agreement on a memorandum of understanding.
Department of the Interior 4. To enhance and sustain coordination at USDA's and FWS's field offices at the state and local level for the benefit of threatened, endangered, and other at-risk species, the Secretaries of Agriculture and of the Interior should direct the Chief of NRCS, the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency, and the Director of FWS, in cooperation with AFWA, to include FSA as an additional partner to the memorandum or develop a separate memorandum of understanding to address coordination.
Closed - Not Implemented
In our November 2006 report "USDA Conservation Programs: Stakeholder Views on Participation and Coordination to Benefit Threatened and Endangered Species and Their Habitats," we found that a draft memorandum of understanding between the Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not include the Farm Service Agency, a key agency which administers the largest conservation program in the United States, and thus, fails to capitalize on the opportunity to coordinate investments from this program to better address risk species and their habitat. The agencies have been unable to reach agreement on a memorandum of understanding.

Full Report