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50 Years of ESA

Article by: Carmen Pavlovsky (SLVEC Communications & Outreach) Date: October 10, 2023

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Recognized as a Federally and Colorado State Endangered Species

Because of declining populations of plant and animal species, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973. The year-2023, marks 50 years since the enactment of the ESA. In those 50 years, hundreds of species have been saved and protected by its implementation. This is due to the effort of conserving the necessary resources, ecosystems, and habitats needed by these species to survive. This successful work has been done through collaborations between federal, state, local and Tribal agencies, as well as conservation organizations and individual citizens and businesses.


In Colorado there are several species on the threatened and endangered list which include seven amphibians, nineteen birds, twenty-three fish, thirteen mammals, ten reptiles, and two mollusks. There are also many federal agencies, in partnership with Colorado statewide agencies and organizations, including local organizations and nonprofits, that work together as stakeholders to protect plants, animals, and ecosystems. By building partnerships, we are able to see success across the US and Colorado. Colorado’s Outdoor Principles, as outlined by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), works to increase the quality of both public and private lands, and are tasked to manage the balance of recreation and conservation. The goal is to minimize impact, through proactive management and education. This approach supports science-based decisions, and stabilizes the necessity for diverse funding to provide critical support to the environment.


The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been more than 99% effective at stopping the extinction of its noted species. Though there has been much success in the way of saving and preserving the plants, animals, and ecosystems in the United States over the last fifty years, there is still much to be done. Critical species are still in danger of extinction and need our help to support them. These species will continue to rely on agencies, organizations, and all of us, to not only recognize their needs, but to take action to provide those needs. You can take action by joining organizations like the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC), or other hunting/fishing organizations which support efforts to save and preserve plants, animals, and ecosystems locally, and connect with efforts across the state, country and globe.


“Colorado’s Outdoor Principles.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife, cpw.state.co.us/conservation/Pages/CON-Colorado-Outdoor-Principles.aspx. Accessed Sept. 2023.

“Endangered Species Act 50th Anniversary: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.” US Fish and Wildlife Service, www.fws.gov/esa50#:~:text=The%20Endangered%20Species%20Act%20(ESA,of%20the%20species%20it%20protects. Accessed Sept. 2023.

“The Endangered Species Act: Celebrating 50 Years of Success in Wildlife Conservation.” U.S. Department of the Interior, 13 Feb. 2023, www.doi.gov/blog/endangered-species-act-celebrating-50-years-success-wildlife-conservation#:~:text=The%20ESA%20was%20enacted%20in,the%20survival%20of%20those%20species. Accessed Sept. 2023.

“The Endangered Species Act at 50 - the Endangered Species Act at 50.” The Endangered Species Act at 50 -, The Endangered Species Act, esa50.org/. Accessed Sept. 2023.

“Threatened and Endangered List.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife, cpw.state.co.us/learn/pages/soc-threatenedendangeredlist.aspx. Accessed Sept. 2023.

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