Threatened, Endangered and Regional Forester Sensitive Species

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires federal agencies to ". . . implement a program to conserve fish, wildlife and plants . . . to insure their actions do not jeopardize the continued existence of any threatened or endangered species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat."

The “endangered species” means any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

The term “threatened species” means any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

The National Forest Management Act (NFMA) requires National Forests to maintain viable populations of "native and desired nonnative vertebrate species . . . well distributed in the planning area." The planning area is the National Forest.

The Forest Service Manual (2670.15) further defines Sensitive Species as "those plant and animal species identified by a Regional Forester for which population viability is a concern as evidenced by significant current or predicted downward trend in numbers or density" and..."habitat capability that would reduce a species existing distribution."  Sensitive species in the Forest Service are identified by Regional Foresters, aimed to avoid trends toward federal listing and to maintain viability.

In Region 9 the sensitive species list is called the Regional Forester Sensitive Species list – RFSS.  Forest Service Biologists, Botanists and Ecologists screen potential sensitive species using a Risk Evaluation process. The public, other agencies and organizations are involved in reviewing the updated criteria and proposed lists. Information and data from the following sources are used in the process.

  1. Species that are automatically considered “Sensitive” include U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service candidates for Threatened and Endangered species listing and species delisted in the last five years. In addition, Nature Serve G1-G3, T1-T3 and N1-N3 are automatically considered “Sensitive”, unless the rationale for not listing is well documented.
  2. Minnesota State Threatened and Endangered and Species of Concern, Natural Heritage Program S1 and S2 species, species on the Minnesota Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, and species on the USFWS and Partners in Flight migratory bird lists covering Minnesota are screened using a Risk Evaluation addressing abundance, distribution, population trends, habitat integrity and population vulnerability.

Species must also have at least one documented occurrence within the proclamation boundary of an Eastern Region National Forest and be recognized as a valid species by taxonomic experts.

Region 9 believes that species should be documented within the proclamation boundary to be considered Sensitive. If species occurring in similar habitats outside the forest that meet Sensitive Species Criteria are documented within the forest, they may be added to the list.