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Endangered Species Law and Policy

Monthly Archives: March 2011

Court Holds That Fish and Wildlife Service Is Required to Amend Recovery Plan Before Delisting Species

Posted in Delisting

In a decision that underscores the regulatory importance of recovery plans, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated the delisting of the Virginia northern flying squirrel on the grounds that the delisting rule modified delisting criteria in the recovery plan for the squirrel. Friends of Blackwater v. Salazar No. 09-2122 (D.D.C. March 25,… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes to Cap Funding for Endangered Species Act Listing Petitions

Posted in Listing

The New York Times recently reported that, in an effort to offset the rising costs associated with the review of federal listing petitions, which must be acted on pursuant to statutorily mandated deadlines set forth in the federal Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") has requested that Congress impose a cap on funds that can be spent responding to ESA listing… Continue Reading

9th Circuit Rejects Commerce Clause Challenge to Delta Smelt Biological Opinion

Posted in Court Decisions

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the regulation of water deliveries from the State Water Project and Central Valley Project to protect the threatened delta smelt did not violate the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.  San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Salazar, No. 10-19152 (9th Cir. March 25, 2011).  The… Continue Reading

Settlement Reached to De-List the Gray Wolf

Posted in Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (“Service”) has reached an agreement with the majority of the plaintiffs, including the Defenders of Wildlife, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and eight other conservation organizations, to settle ongoing litigation over a Federal District Court’s 2010 decision (pdf) to reinstate Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) protections for the Rocky Mountain… Continue Reading

Court Upholds Exclusion of Critical Habitat Due To Conflict With Everglades Restoration Plan

Posted in Court Decisions

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia upheld a decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service to exclude an area from the designation of critical habitat for the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow in Florida.  Center For Biological Diversity v. Salazar (D.D.C. Mar. 16, 2011) (PDF).  While conceding that the excluded area was… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Evaluate Whether to List Gunnison Sage-Grouse

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On March 13, 2011, it was reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) is authorized to prepare a new proposed rule and proposed critical habitat for the Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus). This news follows a September 27, 2010 decision (PDF) by the Service that, although the Gunnison sage-grouse warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act… Continue Reading

Fish & Wildlife Service Opens 60-day Comment Period for Proposed Listing of Chiricahua Leopard Frog and Critical Habitat Designation

Posted in Critical Habitat

The Fish and Wildlife Service, proposed (PDF) today to designate critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). ┬áIn addition, because of a taxonomic revision of the Chiricahua leopard frog, the Service is reassessing the status of and threats to the species. The Service proposed designation of approximately… Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service Opens Comment Period on Status Review for Longfin Smelt

Posted in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it will accept comments through April 9, 2011 regarding a status review of the longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys).  In a press release (pdf) announcing that the Service is now accepting comments, the Service states that, based on the status review, it will issue a final 12-month finding by… Continue Reading

Lawsuit Challenges Designation of 187,157 Square Miles of Land and Sea as Polar Bear Critical Habitat

Posted in Critical Habitat, Litigation

As explained in a previous posting, in November 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 187,157 square miles of land in, and sea ice adjacent to, Alaska as critical habitat for polar bear. Shortly after the final rule was published in the Federal Register, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association (AOGA) sent a sixty-day… Continue Reading

Fish and Wildlife Service Recommends Delisting of the Eastern Cougar

Posted in Delisting

On March 2, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) completed its formal review of the status of the eastern cougar (Felis concolor couguar) and concluded that the subspecies is extinct.  The existence of the subspecies, listed since 1973, has long been questioned.  Dr. Mark McCollough, the Service’s lead scientist for subspecies, noted that the eastern… Continue Reading

Fourth Circuit Rules that Delaying Judicial Review of Controversial Biological Opinion for Pacific Salmonids Is Improper

Posted in Court Decisions

On March 2, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that a biological opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service ("Service") regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s ("EPA") reregistration of pesticides is immediately reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act, reversing a lower court decision.  Dow Agrosciences LLC v. National Marine Fisheries Service, Case… Continue Reading

Court Enters Temporary Stipulated Settlement in Water Project Case Following Successful Challenge to Delta Smelt Biological Opinion

Posted in Court Decisions

On February 25, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California entered a stipulated order (pdf) establishing operational criteria for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project through June 30, 2011, in lieu of the Reasonable and Prudent Alternative prescribed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2008 biological opinion (pdf) regarding the effects… Continue Reading