Safe Harbor Agreements (SHA)

US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

Texas is home to many endangered federally listed species which are legally protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Over one-third of the 564 plant and animal species listed as threatened or endangered in the United States use wetland habitats, according to the Texas General Land Office.  Many of these species rely on habitat found on privately owned land.

A Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) are a tool for private landowner whom would like to aid in the recovery of a listed or candidate species and maintain habitat on their land, but have concerns about property use restrictions from the ESA.

This formal agreement between the landowner and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) guarantees that if the SHA is fulfilled, the landowner will not be required to undertake any additional or different management activities while the SHA contract is active. Additionally, the landowner is issued an Enhancement of Survival Permit.  Law governing safe harbor agreements can be found at USFWS Laws and Policies website.

At the end of the SHA agreement, the land may be returned to baseline conditions existing prior to SHA. If the contract is not renewed, the regulatory assurances and all issued permits expire with the SHA.  The SHA can be renewed at the end of the term as long as the landowner and USFWS are in agreement.

Note that safe harbor agreements related to marine and salt water fish that migrate upstream to spawn may be coordinated by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). USFWS will make this determination.

Program Page

Getting Started:

  • Contact your local USFWS Ecological Services field office and let them know you are interested in discussing development of a safe harbor agreement.

USFWS Ecological Services Field Officetop

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