Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Matthew Frank

Commitee Members

Matthew Frank, Larry Abramson, Martha Williams


conservation, conservation agreements, private land, endangered wildlife, candidate conservation agreements with assurances


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Studies | Journalism Studies | Natural Resources and Conservation


Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances, or CCAAs, are little known, voluntary conservation agreements that protect imperiled wildlife on private lands. These agreements have emerged over the past decade and have had mixed results in providing adequate protections for candidate species.

Landowners, private industries, state and federal agencies, and environmental nonprofits, are using CCAAs as tools to eliminate the need for an endangered species listing. An Endangered Species Act listing can lead to land-use uncertainty for private landowners and this threat is the main incentive to enroll in a CCAA. When landowners enroll in CCAAs they are agreeing to provide specific protections for the species on their property, and in return they receive assurances. Like an insurance policy, assurances promise landowners that if the species is listed in the future, no further land-use restrictions will be enforced.

The fluvial Arctic grayling CCAA, and several greater sage grouse CCAAs across the West, are being used along with other conservation strategies to prevent the listing of both species. These agreements have demonstrated unprecedented voluntary collaboration, but it is still unclear whether or not they can stand alone as effective protection for species in lieu of an Endangered Species listing.

Monitoring of CCAAs to ensure that enrollees are complying with the agreements, and that the program is benefitting the species, is dependent on resources and transparency. Both the sage grouse and arctic grayling CCAAs have been studied and written about on an individual level. However, CCAAs and how they influence conservation on a larger scale, remain largely uncharted and should be watched in the future.



© Copyright 2017 Sophie B. Tsairis