The iconic monarch butterfly continues to make headlines. In December 2020, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the monarch butterfly was warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act, but precluded (or delayed) due to higher priority needs. Following this announcement, the 2020-2021 overwintering numbers for both the Western and Eastern monarch butterfly populations were released. The Western population dipped to a catastrophic new low: less than 2,000 butterflies along the California coast, representing a 99.9% reduction from historic levels. The Eastern population, which overwinters in central Mexico, fell an additional 26% from the previous year, representing only about one-third of the estimated target to maintain a stable population.
Beginning in 2018, a group of 40+ partners from across the energy and transportation sectors in the U.S. developed the first nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) to promote voluntary conservation of monarch butterfly habitat on energy and transportation lands. CCAAs are regulatory mechanisms that encourage landowners and managers to adopt measures that create net conservation benefits in exchange for regulatory assurances that no additional requirements beyond the CCAA will be mandated if the monarch butterfly becomes listed.
The University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) oversees the collaborative CCAA program, which was finalized and approved in April 2020. After its first full year in operation, UIC and the 25+ energy and transportation partners that have enrolled in the agreement have learned a lot about its implementation. This presentation will provide an overview of the final CCAA, what it means for industry partners, and lessons learned in the first year. Attendees will hear several unique perspectives and case studies from CCAA partners, including two energy companies, two state departments of transportation, and one county road authority, that are actively engaged in the CCAA and are using the agreement to build momentum around native habitat conservation.