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Restoration Success in National Parks

Channel Island Fox
Channel Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis)

About 75 percent of the National Park Service's nearly 400 units have significant natural resources. Some of our nation's finest remaining examples of rare wildlife habitats are found in NPS units. In the last 11 years, 44 park populations of 38 species of threatened and endangered species have been reintroduced or out-planted to NPS units. Highlights of species restoration at three parks include:

  • Channel Island Foxes: Listed in 2004 as a federally endangered species, the Channel Island foxes are approaching biological recovery on Santa Cruz and San Miguel Islands within Channel Islands National Park. Four of the six subspecies of island fox declined by over 90 percent in the late 1990s. The cause of the decline on the northern Channel Islands was predation by golden eagles. Since 1999 a total of 44 golden eagles have been live-captured and relocated to the mainland. Today, with over 1,800 foxes in the wild, the island fox population is on the road to recovery. More information is available on the Channel Island National Park website.
  • Fisher (Martes pennanti): The West Coast distinct population segment of fisher is classified by the Fish and Wildlife Service as a candidate, while other populations are currently under review. In early 2008, 18 fishers were released into Olympic National Park, marking the beginning of a three-year reintroduction project and restoration of these creatures to the State of Washington. More information is available on the Olympic National Park website and Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Conservation website.
  • Mauna Loa silversword (Argyroxiphium kauense): Listed as endangered in 1993, the Ka'u or Mauna Loa Silversword is a giant rosette plant found only in the active volcano of Mauna Loa on the island of Hawai'i. The largest population is located on Hawaii Volcanoes National Park land on Kahuku Ranch. Two smaller populations are located within Forest Reserves, managed by the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources. More information is available on the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park website.

Before a species, a subspecies, or a distinct vertebrate population is formally listed as threatened or endangered (T&E), it is scientifically evaluated according to established criteria. A species remains a candidate until the evaluation takes place. Once a candidate species has been officially proposed for consideration, it receives protection from the NPS as a "threatened" species until a decision has been reached. Sometimes, when a species is being restored, a population is designated as an experimental population to give greater management flexibility until it is established. At other times, the need for federal listing is unnecessary if management actions to secure the species are put in place by state and federal agencies.

Removing a species from the federal list of T&E species is a public process that entails a scientific evaluation. After delisting, five years of monitoring is required to make sure that the threats do not resume. In long lived species, the five years of required monitoring may be stretched over a longer time period. For example, the bald eagle, will be monitored every fifth year starting in 2008, continuing in 2013, 2018, 2023, and ending in 2028. If there are no threats to the species after that time, then the species would be delisted.

The success of the Endangered Species Act is exemplified by these species: bald eagle, peregrine falcon, whooping crane, Kirtland's warbler, gray wolf, gray whale, and the grizzly bear. Started by the United States Senate, Endangered Species Day is the third Friday in May. It is an opportunity for people young and old to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions that people can take to help protect our nation's disappearing wildlife and last remaining open space. Protecting America's wildlife and plants today is a legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren, so that all Americans can experience the rich variety of native species that help to define our nation. Every year, thousands of people throughout the country celebrate Endangered Species Day at parks, wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, libraries, schools and community centers. You can participate in festivals, field trips, park tours, community clean-ups, film showings, classroom presentations, and many other fun and educational activities. More information is available on the Endangered Species Day website.

Last Updated: January 03, 2017