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Endangered Species Law and Policy

Monthly Archives: March 2010

Violation of Endangered Species Act Results in Jail Time and Probation

Posted in Court Decisions

Two men were sentenced in federal court last week after admitting to the 2007 slaughter of over 100 federally endangered Indiana bats in Kentucky.  In light of the brutality of the attacks, one man received 3 years probation, while the second man, who was involved in two separate attacks on the endangered bat, was sentenced to eight months in… Continue Reading

Court Rejects Use of Habitat Surrogate In Everglades Project Biological Opinion

Posted in Court Decisions, Litigation

In the latest round of litigation over endangered species impacts of water management in Southern Florida, a district court invalidated an incidental take statement applicable to actions of the Corps of Engineers to restore the Everglades.  The decision in Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida v. United States (PDF), is the latest in a line… Continue Reading

Endangered Species Law Conference to Take Place April 8-9 in San Diego

Posted in Continuing Education

On April 8-9, Nossaman partners Rob Thornton and Paul Weiland will be co-chairing a CLE International conference on Endangered Species Law at the Omni Hotel in San Diego, California.  Nossaman attorneys Sue Meyer, Rob Thornton, and Paul Weiland will be presenting on panels at the conference.  Other speakers are among the leading attorneys, consultants, scientists,… Continue Reading

National Marine Fisheries Service Lists Pacific Smelt As Threatened

Posted in Listing, National Marine Fisheries Service

The National Marine Fisheries Service ("NMFS") has issued a final determination (PDF) listing the southern Distinct Population Segment of Pacific eulachon (commonly referred to as "pacific smelt") as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.  Because the pacific smelt has only been listed as a "threatened species," the listing does not result in an immediate prohibition on pacific smelt… Continue Reading

Feinstein Responds to National Academy of Sciences Report – Calls for Greater Flexibility

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Senator Dianne Feinstein has responded (PDF) to the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council’s report on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta noting that the report did not indicate a need to enforce more rigorous pumping restrictions.  Feinstein emphasized the finding that other stressors, including predators, may have a potentially large impact on endangered species in… Continue Reading

National Research Council Releases Report on Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Today the National Research Council’s Committee on Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay-Delta released the first of two reports regarding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California. The report is entitled A Scientific Assessment of Alternatives for Reducing Water Management Effects on Threatened and Endangered Fishes in California’s Bay Delta. It addresses two… Continue Reading

Forest Service Evaluation of Grazing Impacts on Sage Grouse Invalidated by Ninth Circuit

Posted in Court Decisions

Finding its methodology “fatally flawed,” the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Forest Service violated the National Forest Management Act (“NFMA”) and the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) in its approval of grazing allotments in Southeast Montana.  In Native Ecosystems Council v. Tidwell (PDF), the court determined that the Forest Service’s use of… Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service Designates 1.6 Million Acres of Critical Habitat for California Red-Legged Frog

Posted in Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

For the third time in nine years, the Fish and Wildlife Service has revised the designation of critical habitat for the California red-legged frog. The new designation includes 1.6 million acres in 20 counties in California. 75 Fed. Reg. 12,816 (Mar. 17, 2010) (PDF). The revised designation increases the amount of critical habitat by over… Continue Reading

Bill Introduced to Amend California Endangered Species Act (AB 2420)

Posted in Regulatory Reform

Assemblyman Jared Huffman has introduced Assembly Bill 2420 (PDF) to amend the provisions of the California Endangered Species Act (“CESA”) that allow persons who obtain incidental take authorization under the federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), to also obtain take authorization from the Director of the California Department of Fish and Game for species listed under… Continue Reading

NOAA Fisheries Requests Modifications to California Sport-Fishing Regulations

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

At the March 3, 2010 California Fish and Game Commission meeting in Ontario, California, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA") Fisheries, the federal agency charged with protecting marine and anadromous fish species such as the Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead, formally requested that the Commission revise sport-fishing regulations to increase the harvest of non-native… Continue Reading

Conservation Groups Urge Administration to Adopt New Definition of “Adverse Modification of Critical Habitat”

Posted in Consultation, Regulatory Reform

On March 10, 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a letter (PDF) on behalf of 50 conservation groups encouraging the Secretaries of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce to adopt a radical new definition of “adverse modification of critical habitat.”  The proposed definition differs in two ways from the current regulatory definition;… Continue Reading

Groups Sue Over Greater Sage Grouse Candidate Determination

Posted in Listing, Litigation

Western Watersheds Project is again challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service’s listing determination for the greater sage grouse.  On March 5, 2010, the Service determined that listing the greater sage grouse was warranted but precluded by higher priority species, thereby deeming the greater sage grouse a candidate species, which does not receive any protection under… Continue Reading

Court Holds that Federal Agencies Acted Illegally by Implementing Biological Opinion and Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives without Complying with NEPA

Posted in Court Decisions, Litigation, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a decision (PDF) granting plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by adopting and implementing NMFS’ biological opinion and reasonable and prudent alternatives regarding… Continue Reading

Greater Sage Grouse Listing Warranted But Precluded

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

co-authored by Robert Thornton After seeking a week’s delay, the Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that the greater sage grouse warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act, but listing is currently precluded by higher priority species.  The Service is placing the greater sage grouse on the candidate list for future action.  Until then, the… Continue Reading

NRDC Sues to List Whitebark Pine Claiming Exacerbated Threat Due to Climate Change

Posted in Listing, Litigation

Another lawsuit (PDF) has been filed to force the Fish and Wildlife Service to act on a listing petition – this time for the whitebark pine tree, which is distributed across high-elevation areas in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and southwestern Canada.  The Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned (PDF) the Service to… Continue Reading

Lawsuit Seeks to Address Predation in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Posted in Litigation, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Co-authored by Ben Rubin On February 27, 2010, the Sacramento Bee published a story by Matt Weiser entitled "Lawsuit: Striped bass to blame for California’s salmon decline." The story discusses an ongoing lawsuit (PDF) challenging the California Department of Fish and Game’s enforcement of striped bass sport-fishing regulations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The lawsuit alleges that… Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service Reinstates Proposed Listing of the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard

Posted in Listing

Reminiscent of the tale of endless litigation in Dickens’ Bleak House, the Fish and Wildlife Service has reinstated (PDF) the 1993 proposed rule (PDF) to list the flat-tailed horned lizard as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act following more than a decade of litigation, including two decisions from the United States Court of… Continue Reading

Lawsuit Seeking Listing of Sonoran Desert Tortoise Expands Endangered Species Act-Solar Development Conflict

Posted in Listing, Litigation

Environmental groups have sued (PDF) the Fish and Wildlife Service to force the listing of the Sonoran desert tortoise in Arizona as a distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act.  The lawsuit is the latest legal development that threatens to slow or block the national effort to promote the development of solar energy on… Continue Reading