By the mid-20th Century, giant gartersnakes (Thamnophis gigas) had lost more than 90% of their Central Valley marsh habitat and were extirpated from more than two-thirds of their range. This massive habitat loss led to their inclusion in the inaugural list of rare species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Listing under the CESA provided giant gartersnakes legal protection and mechanisms for recovery, and subsequent listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (U.S. ESA) further fortified these protections. But how effective has listing under these endangered species acts (ESAs) been at achieving their goal of giant gartersnake recovery? Herein, we review relevant aspects of giant gartersnake ecology, illustrate how listing has benefitted giant gartersnakes and what challenges have been faced in slowing declines and recovering populations, and chart a course towardprovide options for improved conservation, management, and recovery of giant gartersnakes. Although listing as threatened under both state and federal ESAs has not yet achieved recovery of giant gartersnakes, the increased knowledge gained and mechanisms for protecting giant gartersnake habitat on private and public lands developed over the past 50 years has improved conservation of this endemic California snake.