Endangered Species and Safe Harbor Agreements: How Should They Be Used?


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Virginia Tech


In its original format, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was a classic example of the â command and controlâ model of environmental management. The â command and controlâ model creates unintended effects opposite to the stated purpose of the Endangered Species Act such as clandestine destruction of endangered species and their habitat. In order to resolve this issue the Endangered Species Act has moved away from the â command and controlâ model towards a more collaborative contractual model that allows for flexibility and creates enforceable agreements between Federal and nonfederal entities that protect the interests of all parties involved. This paper examines the most recent type of contractual agreement included in the Endangered Species Act, Safe Harbor Agreements, and how Safe Harbor Agreements should be used with respect to endangered species. The paper begins with a description of the creation of the endangered species legislation and continues by defining the steps leading to the development of Safe Harbor Agreements. The following portions of the paper include case studies and a description of weaknesses and strengths of Safe Harbor Agreements. The paper concludes with policy recommendations for utilization of Safe Harbor Agreements.



aplomado falcon, Attwater's prairie chicken, red-cockaded woodpecker