Hoping to gain support for the Endangered Species
Act, the Interior Department offered a deal Aug. 10. Any person or
group agreeing to protect endangered species through a Habitat
Conservation Plan will not be expected to make further concessions.
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt called the new policy flexible and
urged its support. More than 130 of these plans are already in
negotiation around the country, and in each situation, he said, the
government will provide legal assurance that the agreement will not
change. Plans vary, but their average length is 20 to 30 years.
Babbitt said during this time the government will still have to
make sure that certain species aren't irreparably harmed on private
property. "It doesn't mean we're walking away" (from the act),
Babbitt said, but "a deal is a deal."