“The aim in all wildlife conservation should be reasonable levels for all members of the native wildlife community.” Aldo Leopold, 1945
In the last 200 years, nearly 600 species and species’ populations have gone extinct in the U.S. The pressing need to bring wildlife species up from very low numbers to healthy populations is a national concern that, with encouragement and support, our country’s private landowners have the ability to address.
More than two-thirds of all threatened and endangered species in the U.S. occur on private lands, and nearly one-third occur only on private lands. Sand County Foundation sees this as a conservation opportunity.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA), enacted in 1973, may have slowed the rate of extinction in our country, but has mostly served as an emergency room for species already in crisis. We need early intervention to get ahead of the problem and avoid crisis situations. Private landowners and supportive partners have the power to determine the fate of wildlife and the habitats species need to survive. Rare species recovery through better habitat will not only reverse species decline, but can help to lessen the risk of restrictive threatened or endangered species listings.
Sand County Foundation knows from our experience that private landowner involvement is the key to success. Our work through the Cooperative Sagebrush Initiative remains the only wide-range attempt to unite a broad coalition of western land users to conserve and restore the sagebrush ecosystem across eleven states. And our innovative white-tailed deer herd management program in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania showed that hunters and landowners can work together toward better habitat and higher quality deer.
Through our emerging rare species initiative, Sand County Foundation will use some of the same essential principles to build and support ecosystem-scale species conservation models that will engage, respect and incentivize private landowners and businesses; address species decline before an ESA intervention; and engender understanding and support for better habitat on private lands.