Saving Species Together


Saving Species Together - Everyone can help protect species!

Saving Species Together highlights positive stories of collaboration to protect threatened and endangered species. See conservation in action when resource agencies, private landowners, non-profit organizations, and the public come together to help the species in this video series and educational campaign.

Tune in for the PBS Telecasts of Saving Species Together:  Telecast Schedule

About the Campaign

According to link opens in new windowa 2019 UN report on species extinction, an estimated one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. Still, there is a lot we can do to address the challenges facing listed species!

The Saving Species Together video series and educational campaign highlights collaboration between private land managers, resource agencies, non-profits, and the public to protect threatened and endangered species. By building conservation communities that include all stakeholders, we can come together to address the challenges facing listed species, making recovery more possible.

While this project focuses on stories of four threatened and endangered species at risk - Western snowy plover, San Joaquin kit fox, California tiger salamander, and Coho salmon – the information here can be applied to many species and habitats.

The project is a partnership between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, link opens in new windowU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and link opens in new windowU.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Community service funds paid by the defendant in a federal securities fraud and wildlife violations case, link opens in new windowUnited States of America v. Wildlife Management, LLC (N.D. Cal.) funded the project. The project was funded by the link opens in new windowNational Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Species Videos

California Tiger Salamander

Resource managers, a private developer, and biological consultants work together to protect the California tiger salamander in its native habitat in northern California grasslands.

Coho Salmon

Coho salmon specialists from a timber company, a non-profit and NOAA Fisheries help juvenile Coho salmon in the Eel River Watershed.

San Joaquin Kit Fox

Resource managers, non-profits and a solar company find ways to protect the endangered San Joaquin kit fox in urban environments and on a 26,500-acre preserve in the Central Valley.

Western Snowy Plover

Resource managers and volunteers help protect and restore habitat for the Western Snowy Plover at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Mike Thompson Wildlife Area, South Spit Humboldt Bay.

Private Landowners

spotted salamander in hand
Photo of a biologist finding a California tiger salamander at development site.

Since the early 1970s, the link opens in new windowEndangered Species Act and California Endangered Species Act have prevented the probable extinction of hundreds of species and contributed to the recovery of many others. Private landowners, including private citizens, tribes, conservation organizations, and businesses, have all contributed to these efforts, and play a key role in protecting listed species.

If you are interested in helping recover listed species, improving the status of candidate or other unlisted species, or if you have a project that may affect listed species, there are many tools and programs available at both the federal and state level.

Are you considering an activity that could adversely impact a listed species or its habitat? If so, you will need a permit. Private landowners must apply for incidental take permits as a way of integrating development and land-use activities with conservation efforts.

A link opens in new windowHabitat Conservation Plan (HCP) can cover your land-use activities and conserve listed species in the permit process for federally listed species. HCP are planning documents that are included in an application for an incidental take permit. They describe the anticipated effects of the proposed taking; how those impacts will be minimized, or mitigated; and how the HCP is to be funded.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and CDFW can help determine whether a proposed project or action is likely to result in “take” and whether an HCP or state incidental take permit is needed.The agencies can also help the applicant navigate the process. It’s best if you confer with resource agencies early in the planning phase — before breaking ground — to avoid harming species and ensure you have the right permits in place.

Resources for Private Landowners

Need more information on California Endangered Species Act Permits?

See CDFW Permitting Page

Need information on CDFW Natural Community Conservation Planning program?

This innovative program takes a broad-based ecosystem approach to planning for the protection and preservation of biological diversity.

Would you like to manage your land in a way that aids in species recovery and provides flexibility in the use of your land?

Would you like to manage your land in perpetuity for the species if you could generate income by doing so?

Are you considering a Habitat Conservation Plan for permanently protecting the habitat?

A link opens in new windowSection 6 Grant may be a source of funding.

CDFW distributes federal funds for threatened and endangered species conservation and recovery actions through the Endangered Species Conservation and Recovery Grant Program. Funds for threatened and endangered species conservation actions are provided to states and territories from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through their Traditional Conservation Grants Program (Section 6 Grant Program). Learn more about the link opens in new windowSection 6 Grant program.

Are you interested in getting a federal tax deduction for taking actions on your property for the benefit of a species with a recovery plan?

You may be eligible for link opens in new windowTax Deductions.

Do you have a federal candidate or at-risk species (or habitat for one) on your land?

Would you like to conserve the species to prevent the need to list it under the Endangered Species Act? Learn more about link opens in new windowCandidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances or explore link opens in new windowCandidate Conservation Agreements.

Would you like to help maintain or restore habitat for federally listed or declining species on your property?

The Service's link opens in new windowPartners for Fish and Wildlife Program may be a source of funding.

Do you want to know if your project might affect a listed species?

Do you want to know what recovery activities are needed or have been taken for listed species?

What agreements or plans (CCAs, CCAAs, SHAs, or HCPs) have been approved for a particular species?

Operating in the Central Valley?

CDFW’s Landowner Incentive Program is an effort to reverse the decline of at-risk species on private lands in California's Central Valley. This is done by providing monetary incentives and technical assistance to private landowners.

Learn more at the California Land Incentive Program.

Looking for California incentives to manage land for the benefit of wildlife?

CDFW’s Private Lands Management (PLM) program offers landowners incentives to manage their lands for the benefit of wildlife. Landowners who enroll in the PLM program consult with biologists to make biologically sound habitat improvements that benefit wildlife, like providing water sources, planting native plants for food, and making brush piles for cover.

Learn more about the Private Lands Management program.

CDFW’s Voluntary Local Program (VLP) is designed to encourage farmers and ranchers engaged in agricultural activities to voluntarily enhance, restore, and maintain habitat for sensitive, candidate, threatened and endangered species that benefit from habitat maintenance and agricultural activities. There are currently three VLPs approved in the state. Contact your CDFW Regional Office if you are interested in learning more about VLPs in your area. Learn more about the Alameda County VLP.

Tax Donations

Help endangered species by making a donation to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program, the California Sea Otter Fund, and the Native California Wildlife Rehabilitation Fund in the Voluntary Contributions section of your California Income Tax Form.

More FAQ's for landowners

More frequently asked questions for landowners can be found on the link opens in new windowU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fact Sheet on the USFWS web site.

What Can We Do?

The printable PDF files below include the information on the California tiger salamander, Coho salmon, San Joaquin kit fox, and the Western snowy plover. Each file contains information about how we can help protect wildlife when development and human interaction occurs in and around their habitats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why save species?

Congress answered this question in the preamble to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, recognizing that endangered and threatened species of wildlife and plants "are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people." It further expressed concern that many of our nation’s plants and animals were in danger of becoming extinct.

Although extinctions have occurred naturally in the past, scientific evidence shows that the current rate of extinction is much higher than in previous centuries. Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating. According to the link opens in new windowInternational Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, species loss continues to increase due to human actions. The main factor driving their decline are changes in land and sea use that result in habitat loss and modification. Direct exploitation of organisms for commercial gains and illegal trade, climate change, invasive species, pollution, and the spread of disease also contribute to rapid species loss.

The health of threatened and endangered species is strongly linked to our own well-being. Millions of Americans depend on habitat that sustains these species – for clean air and water, recreational opportunities, and for their livelihoods. By taking action to protect imperiled native fish, wildlife, and plants, we can ensure a healthy future for our community and protect treasured landscapes for future generations.

What federal regulations are in place to protect species?

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), as amended, is federal legislation intended to provide a means to conserve the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend and provide programs for the conservation of those species, thus preventing extinction of plants and animals.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration share responsibility for implementing the ESA in collaboration with states, tribes, private landowners, non-governmental organizations, and federal partners, focusing on the following principles:

  • Conserving and recovering listed species
  • Providing conservation incentives
  • Increasing public participation in species conservation through grants and partnerships
  • Ensuring clear and consistent policies and implementation of ESA regulation
  • Basing decisions on sound science
  • Providing private landowners and industry with tools to implement projects

What California regulations are in place to protect species?

In 1970 California became one of the first states to implement a law that conserves and protects endangered species and their environments. The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) declares that "all native species of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, invertebrates, and plants, and their habitats, threatened with extinction and those experiencing a significant decline which, if not halted, would lead to a threatened or endangered designation, will be protected or preserved."

In California, CDFW oversees CESA and makes sure that citizens follow laws and regulations that are in place. Plant and animal species may be designated threatened or endangered under CESA after a formal listing process by the California Fish and Game Commission.

What is the difference between species of concern, threatened, and endangered?

Species of concern: an informal status (not defined in the Endangered Species Act) meaning a species that might be in need of conservation action. Such species receive no legal protection under the Endangered Species Act but have special standing with the State of California. However, the use of the term does not necessarily imply that a species will eventually be proposed for federal or state listing.

Threatened species: an animal or plant species likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

Endangered species: an animal or plant species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

How does a species become listed as threatened or endangered?

A species can be listed under the Endangered Species Act in two different ways: through the petition process or through the candidate assessment process.

Through the petition process, any interested person may petition the Secretary of the Interior to add or remove a species on the list of endangered and threatened species. Through the candidate assessment process, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's biologists identify candidate species for listing.

A species is added to the list when it is determined to be endangered or threatened because of any of the following factors:

  • the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
  • overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
  • disease or predation;
  • the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms;
  • other natural or man-made factors affecting its survival.

Plant and animal species may be designated as threatened or endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) after a formal listing process by the link opens in new windowCalifornia Fish and Game Commission.

The criteria and process for listing a species as candidate, threatened, or endangered are presented in link opens in new windowFish and Game Code Sections 2050, et seq. and link opens in new windowSection 670.1, Title 14, California Code of Regulations.

After the Commission receives a CESA listing petition with the required information, CDFW is responsible for preparing a petition evaluation report that includes a recommendation on whether the petition contains sufficient scientific information to indicate that the petitioned action may be warranted. After receiving CDFW’s petition evaluation report, the Commission must decide at a public meeting whether to accept the petition for consideration. If the petition is accepted the species becomes a candidate species, and CDFW begins preparing a peer-reviewed status report on the species that is based on the best scientific information available. As a candidate for listing, the species is temporarily afforded the same protections as a state-listed endangered or threatened species. After CDFW’s status report is complete, the Commission must decide at a public meeting whether the petitioned action is warranted. If the Commission finds that the petitioned action is not warranted, the process ends, and the species will be removed from the list of candidate species. If the Commission finds that the petitioned action is warranted, the species will be added to the list of threatened or endangered species.

How many species are listed as endangered or threatened in the United States?

In the United States, link opens in new window494 animal species and 723 plant species1 are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

In California, 168 animal species (PDF)2 and 286 plant species (PDF)3 are listed as endangered or threatened under California Endangered Species Act (CESA).


  1. as of April 6, 2020
  2. as of August 7, 2019
  3. as of January 2, 2020

Do species ever come off the endangered species list?

Yes, species can be removed from the list (delisted) for three reasons: recovered to the point that they no longer need the Endangered Species Act protections (“recovery”), irretrievable loss due to extinction (“has gone extinct”), or due to original data errors. Species can also be reclassified from Endangered to Threatened (downlisted). Recovery Plans for listed species identify delisting and downlisting goals, which help guide evaluation as to what a recovered species might be, using best available information. When a species reaches these goals, federal or state agencies assess the status of the species, including a number of factors: such as population size, recruitment, stability of habitat quality and quantity, and control or elimination of the threats from the time the species was listed to the present day.

What is “critical habitat?”

Critical habitat is a term defined in the Endangered Species Act as specific geographic areas that contain features essential to the conservation of an endangered or threatened species and that may require special management and protection. Critical habitat may also include areas that are not currently occupied by the species but will be needed for its recovery.

What are invasive species?

An invasive species is one that is not native to an ecosystem and which causes, or is likely to cause, economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. Invasive species degrade, change or displace native habitats and compete with our native fish and wildlife for space, food or shelter. Learn more about link opens in new windowinvasive species.

What is a recovery plan?

A recovery plan is a document developed by species experts in collaboration with CDFW, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or other knowledgeable individuals or groups, which serves as a guide (“road map”) for activities to be undertaken by federal, state, or private entities to help recover and conserve endangered or threatened species. Recovery planning is an essential part of implementing both state and federal Endangered Species Acts.

How do I know if my property could have endangered species on it?

In many cases, private lands provide high quality habitat for threatened and endangered species and are important to the recovery of listed species. If you think you might have endangered species on your property you can consult with local resource agencies for guidance. A landowner can request an official Species List for their project through for link opens in new windowPlanning and Consultation (IPaC); the list is automatically generated and logged into from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service IPaC and the California Endangered Species Act which describes Federal versus State laws, codes, definitions, and regulations. Please also see the CNDDB page that houses information on the status and locations of all threatened and endangered species in California.

Landowners may also consider hiring a biologist experienced with the species in their area and ask them to conduct surveys. In some cases, surveys may require a permit. Your certified biologist can help with that process.

What is “take?”

State and federal law prohibit a person from taking a listed animal without a permit. Take, according to the Endangered Species Act, is defined as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or attempt to engage in any such conduct” and the California Fish and Game Code Section 86 defines it as "to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill." The take prohibition encompasses significant habitat modification or degradation that results in the direct killing or injury to listed animal species. Note that many states have their own laws restricting activity involving listed species.

When do I need to get a permit for work on habitat supporting threatened or endangered species?

Depending on the type of work and the potential impacts to the habitat or species, federal and state regulations prohibit the take of any species of wildlife designated as endangered, threatened, or candidate species. Resource agencies may authorize the take of any such species if certain conditions are met. If you believe your work may cause take it is a good idea to contact CDFW, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services before breaking ground.

Who do I call if I encounter a threatened or endangered species at my work site?

You should stop work and immediately contact CDFW, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Can I continue my operations if endangered species are present?

If your work is an otherwise lawful activity you may be able to continue after consulting with CDFW, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and either obtaining the appropriate permits or implementing avoidance measures. There are exemptions to the take prohibition for some agricultural activities, so you should check with your local CDFW, NOAA or USFWS office.

What is mitigation?

The California Endangered Species Act requires impacts to state listed species be minimized and fully mitigated. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)  and the National Environmental Policy Act both require that the potential impacts on species, habitat and farmland from development be considered. Measures implemented within a project to balance those negative impacts through a process known as “mitigation.” Mitigation is frequently required when significant impacts are identified by the environmental review process. Mitigation is defined in Section 15370 of the California Code of Regulations (CEQA Guidelines) as:

  1. Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action.
  2. Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation.
  3. Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the impacted environment.
  4. Reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action.
  5. Compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environment.

What is the difference between Endangered Species Act (ESA) and California Endangered Species Act (CESA)?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states the Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found. The lead federal agencies for implementing ESA are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service. The USFWS maintains a worldwide list of endangered species. Species include birds, insects, fish, reptiles, mammals, crustaceans, flowers, grasses, and trees.

The law requires federal agencies, in consultation with the USFWS and/or the NOAA Fisheries Service, to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species. The law also prohibits any action that causes a "taking" of any listed species of endangered fish or wildlife. Likewise, import, export, interstate, and foreign commerce of listed species are all generally prohibited.

CDFW states the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) is a California environmental law enacted in 1970 and amended in 1984 and 1997 (PDF) that conserves and protects plant and animal species at risk of extinction. Plant and animal species may be designated threatened or endangered under CESA after a formal listing process by the California Fish and Game Commission. Approximately 250 species are currently listed under CESA. A CESA-listed species, or any part or product of the plant or animal, may not be imported into the state, exported out of the state, “taken” (i.e., killed), possessed, purchased, or sold without proper authorization. Implementation of CESA has reduced and avoided impacts to California’s most imperiled plants and animals, has protected hundreds of thousands of acres of vital habitat, and has led to a greater scientific understanding of California’s incredible biodiversity.


Why and how were these four species chosen?

The Saving Species Together videos were funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with community service funds paid by the defendant in a federal case captioned as U.S. v. Wildlife Management, LLC (N.D. California) for the purpose of funding enforcement, training, and education related to the destruction of endangered species and its habitats in Northern California. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation consulted with CDFW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and NOAA Fisheries, as to the best use of these funds for these purposes and together decided upon educational videos which could be used by the agencies in permitting, enforcement, education and outreach contexts for the public and private landowners.

The group determined that four videos, each featuring a representative endangered or threatened species at risk from four different species groups: amphibian, avian, terrestrial mammal and aquatic would be ideal. The California tiger salamander was selected since it was the species at issue in the federal case that resulted in the community service funds. The other species (Coho salmon, Western snowy plover and San Joaquin kit fox) were selected because they are in Northern California, are affected by habitat loss from human activities, and could benefit significantly from public education and outreach. In addition, in general terms, much of the information in the Saving Species Together videos can be applied to other listed species as well.

people on an ocean beach with the ocean and a tent on the beach
Volunteers observe the Western snowy plover on the beach at Point Reyes National Seashore

Outreach Resources

Here is a list of resources we have made available to help promote the Saving Species Together campaign. Whether sharing online or in person, we have a variety of educational materials and media that can be utilized to spread the message of the campaign. We encourage you to post these materials on your website and social media pages, email them to your network, and share them with your colleagues and friends.

Press Release template

  • Saving Species Together Press Release (PDF) - Coming Soon!

Brochures & Other Publications

Public Service Announcements (Video)

Public Service Announcements (Audio)

Social Media Clips (Video)


More Information

Check out these additional links to further information regarding the Endangered Species Act, the California Endangered Species Act, opportunities and grants for private landowners, and more.

For Saving Species Together web page inquiries, contact