Federal Lands and Endangered Species: The Role of Military and Other Federal Lands in Sustaining Biodiversity

BioScienceStein BA

The US government has multiple responsibilities for the protection of endangered species, many of them stemming from its role as the nation's largest landowner. To explore how endangered species are distributed across the federal estate, we carried out a GIS-based analysis using natural heritage species occurrence data. In this 10-year update of a previous analysis, we found that the Department of Defense and the USDA Forest Service harbor more endangered species than other US agencies. The densities of endangered and imperiled species are at least three times higher on military lands. Defense installations in Hawaii are especially significant, holding one-third of all ESA-status species. These findings highlight the continued importance of public lands for the survival of America's plant and animal species.

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