Header graphic for print
Endangered Species Law and Policy

Category Archives: Critical Habitat

Subscribe to Critical Habitat RSS Feed

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Two Species, Designates Critical Habitat for One Species

Posted in Conservation, Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On October 5, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) listed a beetle species as endangered, a fish species as threatened, and designated critical habitat for the fish species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service listed the Miami tiger beetle (Cicindelidia floridana), which occurs in Miami-Dade County, Florida, as endangered under… Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Upholds USFWS Designation of “Uninhabitable” Critical Habitat for Endangered Dusky Gopher Frog

Posted in Court Decisions, Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legal

In a 2-1 decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected challenges to the final rule designating critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act.  Markle Interests, L.L.C. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, No. 14-31008 (5th Cir. June… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Designates Critical Habitat for the Oregon Spotted Frog

Posted in Critical Habitat

On May 11, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule designating approximately 65,038 acres and 20.3 river miles of critical habitat for the Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa).  The acres and river miles comprising the critical habitat designation are located in Whatcom, Skagit, Thurston, Skamania, and Klickitat Counties in Washington,… Continue Reading

Congressional Hearings to be Held on New Critical Habitat Rules and Delisting under the Endangered Species Act

Posted in Congress, Critical Habitat, Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Regulatory Reform

This week, two congressional committees are holding three separate hearings on issues related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  On April 19, the House Committee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing entitled Recent Changes to Endangered Species Critical Habitat Designation and Implementation.  On April 20 and 21, the House Oversight and Government Reform… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Designates Critical Habitat for 125 Hawaiian Species

Posted in Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

On March 30, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) issued a final rule designating critical habitat for 125 species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) on the Hawaiian islands of Molokai, Maui, and Kahoolawe.  The rule designated critical habitat for 50 plant and animal species, and revised critical… Continue Reading

NMFS Designates Critical Habitat for Two Salmonid Populations in Pacific Northwest

Posted in Critical Habitat, National Marine Fisheries Service

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a final rule on February 24, 2016 designating critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for two threatened species—lower Columbia River coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Puget Sound steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss).   NMFS designated approximately 2,300 stream miles of freshwater and estuarine habitat in Oregon and Washington for… Continue Reading

Wildlife Agencies Announce Final Critical Habitat Rules and Policy

Posted in Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

On February 5, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, the “Services”) announced the availability of two final rules and one policy addressing critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  One of the final rules  revises the definition of “destruction or adverse modification,” an issue that has been… Continue Reading

NMFS Designates Additional Critical Habitat for North Atlantic Right Whales

Posted in Critical Habitat, National Marine Fisheries Service

On January 27, 2016, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a final rule designating approximately 29,763 nautical square miles of marine habitat for the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The critical habitat is comprised of two areas, with the first region in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank and the second region… Continue Reading

Court Rejects Some, But Not All Challenges to Critical Habitat Designation of Private Land

Posted in Court Decisions, Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule designating 1,724 acres as critical habitat for the endangered Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus woottoni).  Included in that designation were 56 acres of private land, on which the plaintiff, Otay Mesa Property, L.P. (Otay Mesa), had planned to build a recycling facility and landfill.  Because of… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Proposed Listings and Designates Critical Habitat Pursuant to 2011 Listing Settlement Workplan

Posted in Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

During the last week of its fiscal year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) made several findings under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) to meet its obligations under the 2011 listing settlement workplan.  Below is a brief summary of these findings. On September 29, 2015, the Service published a proposed rule… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Proposed Rule Regarding Critical Habitat Determination for the Marbled Murrelet

Posted in Conservation, Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

On August 25, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule relating to the existing critical habitat for the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus).  The murrelet is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The proposed rule does not purport to change the Service’s previous designation of critical… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Holds Critical Habitat Designations Not Subject to Cost-Benefit Analysis

Posted in Court Decisions, Critical Habitat, Legal, Litigation, National Marine Fisheries Service

In Building Industry Association of the Bay Area v. U.S. Department of Commerce, a decision with significant implications for property owners, the building industry, and the development community at large, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected various challenges to the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) critical habitat designation for the southern… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Critical Habitat Decision Casts Shadow On Habitat Conservation Plan “No Surprises” Assurances

Posted in Court Decisions, Critical Habitat

In a decision that casts a shadow on the enforceability of contractual assurances in habitat conservation plan (“HCP”) agreements, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected various Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) and National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) challenges to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (“Service”) designation of critical habitat for a… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Holds Forest Service Violated ESA by Failing to Reinitiate Consultation for Canada Lynx

Posted in Consultation, Court Decisions, Critical Habitat

On June 17, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the U.S. Forest Service (Service) violated section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to reinitiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding the impacts of a revised critical habitat designation on the Canada lynx… Continue Reading

Federal Government Proposes Revisions to Endangered Species Act Regulations

Posted in Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing, National Marine Fisheries Service, Regulatory Reform

While a number of Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform bills continue to wind their way through Congress (see our May 6, 2015 post), yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced their own plan to “increase regulatory predictability, increase stakeholder engagement, and improve science and transparency” when acting on petitions to list, uplist, downlist,… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Revises Proposed Critical Habitat Rule for Zuni Bluehead Sucker

Posted in Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) reopened the public comment period on its proposed rule (pdf) designating critical habitat for the Zuni bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobolus), a fish species that lives in certain water bodies in New Mexico. In January 2013, the Service proposed to designate 291.3 miles of critical… Continue Reading

Agencies Must Aim for Recovery of the Species When Designating Critical Habitat

Posted in Critical Habitat

In a decision issued earlier this week, a U.S. District Court rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) interpretation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), finding that its interpretation of the critical habitat designation requirement constituted an impermissible construction of the statute.  Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Kelly, Case No. 1:13-cv-00427 (D. Idaho Mar. 23, 2015) (pdf).  Specifically,… Continue Reading

National Marine Fisheries Service Considering Revision to Critical Habitat Designation for Southern Resident Killer Whales

Posted in Critical Habitat, National Marine Fisheries Service

On February 24, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced a 12-month finding (pdf) on the Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) petition to revise the critical habitat designation for the Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The 12-month finding describes how NMFS intends to proceed… Continue Reading

National Marine Fisheries Service Extends Comment Period for Proposed Arctic Ringed Seal Critical Habitat Designation

Posted in Critical Habitat, National Marine Fisheries Service

On February 2, 2015 the National Marine Fisheries Service (“Service”) announced its plan to extend the period for public comments on its December 3, 2014 proposed designation of critical habitat for the threatened Arctic Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida hispida), reported on this blog.  (80 FR 5498 [pdf].)  The Service’s proposed rule would designate millions of acres… Continue Reading

NMFS Publishes Corrected Proposed Critical Habitat Designation for Arctic Ringed Seal

Posted in Critical Habitat, National Marine Fisheries Service

On December 9, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Secretary of Commerce published a revised proposed rule designating critical habitat for the Arctic Ringed Seal.  The previous proposed rule was published here (and reported on this blog here) on December 3rd.  Citing a clerical error, NMFS withdrew the December 3rd rule, claiming it “contained… Continue Reading

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Critical Habitat: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Sets December 18, 2014 Public Hearing in Sacramento

Posted in Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

As we reported in November, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) has been planning to hold a public hearing on the proposal to designate 546,335 acres of critical habitat for the western population of yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) across nine western states.  The Service recently announced that the public hearing will take place on December… Continue Reading

NMFS Proposes Critical Habitat for the Threatened Arctic Ringed Seal

Posted in Conservation, Critical Habitat, National Marine Fisheries Service

On December 3, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published its proposed rule designating critical habitat for the threatened Arctic Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida hispida).  (79 Fed. Reg. 71,714).  The proposed designation, if finalized, would mark one of the largest critical habitat designations in the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi seas, consisting of millions of acres.  The… Continue Reading

Reading the Tea Leaves: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lists, Designates Critical Habitat for Gunnison Sage-Grouse – Is the Greater Sage Grouse Next?

Posted in Critical Habitat, Listing

On November 12, 2014, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) listed as “threatened” and designated over 1.4 million acres of critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus), the smaller cousin of the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus).  The Gunnison sage-grouse’s (Gunnison) current range is limited to southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. The regulations came as a blow… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Re-Opens Comment Period for Cuckoo Critical Habitat

Posted in Critical Habitat

As we reported in October, after significant pressure from Congress, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its intent to re-open the public comment period on its proposal to designate 546,335 acres of critical habitat for the western population of yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah,… Continue Reading