When species are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, there are often real or perceived negative consequences for landowners that may produce perverse incentives and lead to the elimination rather than protection of habitat for the species on private land. In Texas, where approximately 95% of the land is privately owned, the listing of one species and the potential listing of another led to the creation of two innovative programs aimed at incentivizing landowners to protect and improve habitat for the two species: Recovery Credit System for the Golden-Cheeked Warbler and Conservation Recovery Award System for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. Both programs were based on multistakeholder collaborations that included federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private landowners, and which resulted in quasimarket mechanisms for the voluntary protection of habitat by landowners for the species of concern. Key components of both programs included confidentiality of landowner conservation agreements with the state's wildlife management agency and the creation of not-for profit organizations to implement contracts with landowners and disseminate payments for habitat conservation actions to landowners. These two programs have also informed efforts to protect the Lesser Prairie-Chicken and Greater Sage-Grouse, which are under threat on private land in multiple states. Seven lessons learned from protection programs for the four species presented in this article provide useful guidelines for the conservation of other at-risk species on private land elsewhere.
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Vol. 70 • No. 3