Resource Optimization and Endangered Species Management
Resource Optimization and Endangered Species Management

On December 21, 2023, I published a post on the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management’s DeltaCurrents blog discussing integration of resource optimization into endangered species policy to improve conservation outcomes. Resource optimization is the allocation of finite resources in the most efficient manner possible. In the context of wildlife management, it is a structured process to select a management action from among available alternatives intended to result in the most efficient allocation of resources to achieve a specified objective.

The National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (together, the Services) can draw from a rich literature to integrate resource optimization into their own structured decision-making practices. Drs. Byron Williams and James Nichols describe four basic elements of resource optimization that the Services should embrace.

  1. Identify alternative actions (or decision options).
  2. Identify utilities associated with each action.
  3. Specify the objective(s) to allow for aggregation of utilities.
  4. Conduct an accounting of the effects of implementing the action that is selected.

Embedded in each of these elements are sub-elements, and each must be addressed through a step-down structured process to realize the benefits of the optimization effort.

In practice, introducing resource optimization into the decision-making process can be challenging. That said, reliance on resource optimization is preferrable to defaulting to intuition. And by incorporating best practices such as structured decision-making and independent scientific review the Services can maximize the likelihood of achieving resource optimization.

  • Paul S. Weiland

    Paul Weiland is Assistant Managing Partner and a member of the Environment & Land Use Group. He has represented clients – including public agencies, publicly regulated utilities, corporations, trade associations and ...

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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