Endangered Species Act Milestones: 1990s
The decade that saw the birth of the World Wide Web, which forever changed the way Americans communicate, also saw the implementation of a variety of new tools to benefit listed species on privately owned land, with incentives for federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, and other non-federal landowners and managers to engage in voluntary conservation partnerships. In the '90s, Martha Stewart became the guru of home crafts and design, and Michael Jordan the star that lead the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in eight years. While Chicagoans rejoiced their team's victories, conservationists celebrated the return of some of the nation's rarest animals – including the black-footed ferret, California condor, and red wolf – back to the landscape.
Guidelines on the recovery planning for listed species are issued.
The northern spotted owl is listed as threatened.
The first salmon is listed as endangered—Sacramento River evolutionarily significant unit of Chinook salmon.
To protect the northern spotted owl, U.S. District Court Judge, William Dwyer, issues an injunction prohibiting timber harvest of federal old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest under the Northwest Forest Management Act.
Captive-bred black-footed ferrets are reintroduced into Wyoming several years after the last wild population was captured to prevent extinction from disease outbreaks.
The ESA authorization expires. It remains in force through annual appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and the Interior.
Whooping cranes are reintroduced into Florida as a non-migratory flock, in an effort to establish a separate population that would not have to undertake the hazards of hundreds of miles of travel.
The "No Surprises" policy is announced, guaranteeing that participants in a habitat conservation plan (HCP) would not require any further restriction without compensation, even if the species continues to decline.
The Eastern North Pacific population of the gray whale is delisted following recovery.
- The Northwest Forest Plan is adopted marking the first time two of the largest federal land management agencies – the Bureau of Land Management and the U. S. Forest Service – adopt a shared management approach throughout an entire ecological region to protect habitat and conserve the northern spotted owl.
- The Arctic peregrine falcon is delisted following recovery.
- The first candidate conservation agreement is developed for the Warm Springs Zaitzevian riffle beetle.
- The Carlsbad Highlands Conservation Bank, the first official agreement of its kind for a listed species, is approved for use in association with the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Plan, supporting species including the Coastal California gnatcatcher and the valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
- The U.S. Supreme Court, in Babbit v. Sweet Home, upholds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (Service) regulation that defined "harm" to include destroying or modifying habitat for an endangered or threatened species if the action results in the take of the species.
- Budget rider prohibits the listing of additional species and further designation of critical habitat until end of fiscal year 1995, effectively eliminating all funding for listing and prelisting activities under the ESA.
- The eastern gray kangaroo, the western gray kangaroo, and the red kangaroo are delisted following recovery.
Listing priority guidelines are issued for all emergency listings, for review status of all other proposed and candidate species, and for delisting actions.
Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments (vertebrate population policy)" is issued.
The California condor is reintroduced into northern Arizona as a nonessential, experimental population.
"No Surprises" assurances are provided by the government to non-Federal landowners. Essentially, private landowners are assured that if "unforeseen circumstances" arise, the Service and National Marine Fisheries Service will not require the commitment of additional land, water or financial compensation or additional restrictions on the use of land, water, or other natural resources beyond the level otherwise agreed to in the HCP.
The first marine plant, Johnson's sea grass, is listed as threatened.
The first described outbreaks of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd) occurs in both Australia and Central America. Since then, the disease – specific to amphibians – has been documented throughout the Americas, Europe, and Southeast Asia.
The American peregrine falcon is delisted following recovery.