Let's make a deal

  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."

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