Indigo snake CC-BY: David Steen

The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) (collectively, the Services) develop plans to guide the recovery threatened and endangered species. Recovery plans have traditionally been created for print media like 8-1/2 x 11″ paper or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) documents. But web technologies can enable and encourage new approaches to integrating new information with recovery planning. Real-time data streams can feed directly into web-based recovery plan documents to inform plan users. Conservation partners can collaborate more closely to add new knowledge to planning. Regulators can more easily place their regulatory decisions into the context of recovery. The recovery plan itself is still a relatively static document that undergoes public review before changing–to meet legal requirements–but the supporting components can be living.


CI Belugas and Anchorage, AK. Cover photo is a composite of two photographs and was created specifically for this document. Use by permission only: Anchorage photo: Michael Benson; Beluga photo: T. McGuire, LGL Alaska Research Associates, Inc., under MMPA/ESA Research permit # 14210

Defenders of Wildlife is working with the Services to create prototypes of dynamic, web-based recovery plan documents. This encompasses the components of FWS’s new Recovery Planning and Implementation (RPI) framework – the core recovery plan, Species Status Assessment, and Recovery Implementation Strategy – on which FWS plans to base future plans and revisions. is the main landing page for these prototypes (these are not official!):


Panama City crayfish. Photo USFWS.


To ensure dynamic recovery plan documents are as useful as possible, we need the input of all potential users of the plans and associated documents and data. That means we want to hear from Services personnel; those from other federal agencies or from state agencies; the regulated non-governmental community; those at non-governmental conservation organization; and “everyday” citizens. We’ve created a simple questionnaire and would love to have your input!