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The Endangered Species Act: 50 Years of Protecting Biodiversity in Rhode Island

By Dr. Scott Ruhren, Senior Director of Conservation

In 1973 a federal conservation law was created to address the crisis of species extinction. The United States Congress created the Endangered Species Act, ESA or “the Act,” to “provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species depend may be conserved to provide a program for the conservation of such species.” Endangered species are defined as species likely to go extinct in their entire range because of human and/or natural causes. Threatened species are not as close to extinction but are at significant risk.

The Audubon Society of Rhode Island has been instrumental in protecting these species through direct action as well as by saving habitat that supports them. It is an ongoing effort strengthened by the ESA.