Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Steven E. Daniels


Steven E. Daniels


Mark W. Brunson


Terry A. Messmer


The United States’ Endangered Species Act of 1973 has been recognized as one of the most powerful laws enacted to protect endangered species in the world. Its protections for animal species extends onto private land, which has in some cases created conflict between the law, its enforcers, and private landowners. The Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA) program was developed in 1999 to provide a regulatory incentive for private landowners to engage in pro-active conservation for sensitive species to preclude the need for listing under the ESA in the future. Since 1999, however, there have only been 17 CCAAs signed, a relatively small number given the thousands of species eligible for the program across the U.S. This research used semi-structured qualitative interviews with individuals from four participant categories to expand our understanding of why landowners might choose to participate in the CCAA program, and of what benefits and barriers they perceive in program implementation. Participant categories included 1) private landowners enrolled in a CCAA; 2) private landowners that are eligible to enroll, but declined to participate; 3) State fish and wildlife agency employees who have participated in CCAAs across the county; and 4) Fish and Wildlife Service employees responsible for CCAA program implementation. Twenty-six interviews were completed during this research project. Results suggest that program implementation is affected by a multitude of factors; no exclusive drivers were identified. However, the variety of factors that were identified are assessed and management and policy recommendations are made. Hopefully these results and recommendations can potentially affect program policy to increase participation and the potential of the CCAA program as an effective tool for conservation on private lands in the United States.