Press Release
Departments of the Interior, Defense Renew Partnership to Conserve Wildlife and Support Military Readiness
Renewal of the Recovery and Sustainment Partnership demonstrates agencies’ continued commitment to protect at-risk species while increasing flexibility for military activities.
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WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior and Department of Defense today commemorated the renewal of their Recovery and Sustainment Partnership (RASP) through a Memorandum of Understanding to conserve imperiled and federally protected species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) while supporting national security. The renewal comes after a review of the partnership’s successful species recovery accomplishments that have also provided regulatory relief for military readiness. 

Created in 2018, the Recovery and Sustainment Partnership has advanced the conservation and recovery of ESA-listed species by developing and implementing species action plans, collaborative conservation initiatives and innovative policy solutions. By implementing ecosystem management approaches that benefit multiple species and establish long-term conservation commitments, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Defense Department have created more flexibility for military installations to fulfill their missions, satisfy ESA requirements and improve conservation outcomes.

“This longstanding partnership between the Departments of the Interior and Defense demonstrates how collaboration can achieve real-world successes for both military readiness and species conservation,” said Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz. “Under this agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works collaboratively with our military partners to develop innovative conservation plans to conserve at-risk species and achieve recovery goals and objectives for listed species while also supporting national security.”

“The DoD has long understood that protecting military lands and the species that reside there supports military readiness training. Through our renewed partnership with the Department of the Interior, we have confirmed our mutual commitment to proactive, innovative, and collaborative approaches to protect imperiled species while increasing flexibility for military activities,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, & Environment, Honorable Brendan Owens. “We look forward to our continued collaboration and the positive outcomes we can achieve together for national defense and species.”

Years of conservation efforts by the Departments, along with enhanced focus and energy from the Recovery and Sustainment Partnership, have produced significant accomplishments. For example, the Service recently delisted the Okaloosa darter and five species found on San Clemente Island due to conservation actions that led to the species’ recovery. The Service and Defense Department continue these efforts by working together through the RASP to improve conservation for more than 50 species that will address mission impacts on over 150 Defense Department installations and ranges.

The ESA plays a vital role in protecting at-risk species and their habitats, and is credited with saving 99 percent of listed species from extinction. The Interior Department, through the Service, develops and maintains conservation programs for threatened and endangered species to improve their status so that ESA protection is no longer necessary for survival. 

The Defense Department manages nearly 27 million acres of lands, waters and airspace that provide critical environments and conditions to develop and test new technologies and platforms, train service members, and maintain the highest levels of military readiness. These lands and waters are some of the world's most unique and rare ecosystems and habitats with tremendous biodiversity. By sustaining and restoring federally listed and at-risk species, the Defense Department helps advance species conservation and recovery to prevent the need to list additional species under the ESA, enabling the Department to carry out its national defense mission.

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