Six years ago, residential development in parts of Mobile County, Alabama, ground to a halt thanks to the presence of the threatened gopher tortoise and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The county had ceased issuing permits for new septic systems on properties where gopher tortoises were present. Developers and landowners were furious. At the same time, the gopher tortoise population in the county was disappearing due to fragmentation and degradation of native longleaf pine habitat through conversion and neglect. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had little to offer in the way of practical solutions for landowners or tortoises.