Does Voluntary Conservation Work?

December 6, 2023 By: Spencer Durrant


Photo: USFWS Mountain-Prairie/Flickr

In a recent story for High Country NewsKylie Mohr posits an interesting question – does voluntary conservation work?

Mohr specifically looks at the situation currently facing the Montana population of grayling. These grayling have the potential to be listed under the Endangered Species Act, but landowners along the Big Hole River are hopeful that their voluntary conservation efforts will help the species.

Landowners along the Big Hole are able to participate in the “Big Hole Arctic Grayling Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, or CCAA,” according to Mohr. What the CCAA does is promise landowners that if the grayling is ever listed under the ESA, the landowners won’t face further regulatory burdens. The idea is that if landowners take steps now to help conserve grayling populations, listing under the ESA won’t be required.

It’s an interesting idea, and a rather paradoxical step for the federal government to take. But it might be a more effective conservation tool as we look at other populations that need our help.

You can read the rest of the story, and learn more about this specific situation with Montana grayling, here.