Interactive Workshop on Improving Species Status Assessments to Be Held at the North American Conference

Interactive Workshop on Improving Species Status Assessments to Be Held at the North American Conference

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and several partnering organizations will host a special workshop at the upcoming North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Norfolk, Virginia. “Improving Species Status Assessments Through Partner Expert Input” is slated for Tuesday, March 27, from 8 a.m. to noon and will explore ways to improve the effectiveness and collaborative process of species status assessment (SSA) to inform Endangered Species Act decisions. This workshop will precede a second workshop to be held on Tuesday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. titled “Bridging Science and Management: Institutionalizing the Transformation to Ensure Survival” sponsored by the Wildlife Society and its partners.

Gunnison's Prairie Dog

The USFWS has adopted the species status assessment (SSA) as the framework to generate a scientific report used to inform an Endangered Species Act decision (USFWS 2016). The motivation to adopt SSA resulted from the considerable workload for species assessments, including reclassification decisions, and the consequent need for increased efficiency. The SSA is efficient, in part, because it can be updated to inform all ES decisions from listing to delisting, reducing the need to reconstruct different analyses over time.

The SSA framework seeks to resolve many of the limitations and criticisms of previous analytical approaches. It is based on foundations of risk assessment and decision analysis, which are approaches gaining popularity among natural resource agencies for making decisions.

The SSA delivers the scientific analysis distinct from the application of policy. The recognition of different roles for science and policy contributes to streamlined, transparent, and consistent decision making and provides an opportunity for greater technical participation by states into the science analysis. The SSA is framed to allow greater communication at the technical level, and greater clarity on how partners’ data and expertise are used in the status assessment.

Using the SSA framework has improved many aspects of ESA decision making, but continued improvement is possible by clarifying its purpose as well as the roles and responsibilities of the USFWS, the States and the US Geological Survey (USGS) when conducting an SSA.

At this workshop, The USFWS is interested in hearing from stakeholders about the development and use of the SSA process and in using the feedback to improve the process. Attendees will be provided with an overview of how to conduct Species Status Assessments and understand their constraints, and speakers will explore several SSA case studies. Facilitators will then lead the audience through an interactive Q & A session with the workshop speakers and coordinators.

Workshop Co-Chairs are Virgil Moore (AFWA), Gary Frazer (USFWS) and Anne Kinsinger (USGS). Please visit the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference website for more information.

Photo Credit
Brittany O'Connor, Flickr
February 15, 2018