Document Type


Publication Date



The objective of the Endangered Species Act is to "recover" imperiled species and thus to render the Act's conservation tools unnecessary To achieve this goal, the drafters of the Act crafted a linear process that begins with an assessment of the threats facing the species and moves through the elimination of those threats to the recovery and delisting of the species. It has become increasingly apparent over the past decade that few species fit this model- most species face threats-altered habitats and competition with invasive species-that cannot be eliminated. These species are "conservation reliant" because they will require ongoing conservation management. Conservation-reliant species can be recovered biologically through management actions at the relevant scale, but delisting such species is problematic because to do so will deprive the species of the management required to maintain its numbers and distribution. To date, a handful of conservation-reliant species have been delisted as recovered pursuant to management agreements that obligate a manager-a federal or state agency, a conservation organization, or a specially created management entity to provide ongoing conservation management activities These developments are examined in part by using the Borax Lake chub-a small fish endemic to a highly alkaline lake in eastern Oregon-as a continuing example of both how the Act was intended to operate and how it might be re-envisioned to achieve its recovery goals in a rapidly changing conservation landscape.