Fishers Get ESA Protection in Southern Sierra

On May 15, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") published a final rule in the Federal Register announcing the agency’s determination to list the Southern Sierra Nevada (SSN) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of fisher (Pekania pennanti) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The fisher is a small, carnivorous mammal in the mustelid (commonly referred to as weasel) family. The SSN DPS of fisher, which occurs in California, was recently determined by the Service to be a separate subpopulation of the West Coast DPS.

The Service first proposed to list ...

PODCAST | Engage the Experts: Wind Power & Wildlife

I recently recorded a podcast as part of the Environmental Law Institute’s (ELI) People Places Planet Podcast series “Engage the Experts.” In our recent discussion entitled “Wind Power & Wildlife,“ I speak with Joy Page, Director of the Renewable Energy and Wildlife team at the Defenders of Wildlife about what it means to work on “wind and wildlife” issues and how that differs given our respective roles. We hope you find the conversation interesting and insightful. 

People Places Planet Podcast provides the public, environmental practitioners, and ELI members with ...

Feds Appeal NWP 12 Ruling

Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit the decision of a lower court to vacate nationwide permit 12 (NWP 12) until the Corps completes consultation under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The case stems from controversy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline. As previously reported on this blog, on May 11, 2020, the lower court amended its original order vacating NWP 12 for all purposes by limiting the vacatur only to new oil and gas pipeline construction. The court’s amended order allows use of NWP ...

Posted in Consultation
NWP 12 Back in Play, Mostly

Today, the United States District Court for the District of Montana issued an order amending its previous order, which had invalidated nationwide permit 12 (NWP 12) on the basis that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) failed to engage in a programmatic Endangered Species Act (ESA) section 7 consultation when the Corps reissued NWP 12 in 2017.  The case arose out of the controversy over the Keystone XL Pipeline. The effect of the court’s prior ruling vacated NWP 12 in its entirety and enjoined its use to authorize impacts to waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act.  NWP 12 ...

On May 5, 2020, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decided to list the island marble butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The FWS decision also designated approximately 812 acres of critical habitat for the species on the south end of San Juan Island, San Juan County, Washington.

Until 1998 when the species was rediscovered on San Juan Island, the island marble butterfly was thought to be extinct because no known occurrences of the species were documented after 1908. In 2006, the FWS issued a 12-month ...

While section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) generally prohibits the “taking” of an endangered species, under section 10 of the ESA the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) may issue a permit exempting an activity from the take prohibition if the take is for scientific purposes or to enhance the propagation or survival of an endangered species. Under the authority provided by section 10, the Service established the Captive Bred Wildlife permitting program (Program). The Program permits a registrant to export, import, deliver, receive, carry, sell, transport, and ship an endangered species if such activity is to enhance the propagation or survival of the species.

In the early part of this century the Phoenix Herpetological Society, Inc. (Society) applied to and was registered under the Program for certain species. Over the years the Society applied for various amendments to its registration. Some of these amendments were granted, and some were not.

In February 2018, the Society applied to amend its registration to include the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) ...

Tiger King Shines Light on an Endangered Species Act Quirk

The sweeping and rapid ascent to popularity of Netflix Inc.'s "Tiger King" documentary series has fueled new interest in two congressional bills that stalled in committee last year, and has drawn public attention to a quirk of the Endangered Species Act, or ESA.

I recently authored the article, "'Tiger King' Shines Light on an Endangered Species Act Quirk" for Law360. This piece examines ...

Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) Vacated on ESA Grounds

On April 15, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana issued an order that could impact energy and development projects across the United States. The court granted partial summary judgment in favor of plaintiff the Northern Plains Resource Council (“NPRC”) in a case concerning challenges to the Keystone XL Pipeline.  While the case mostly focused on the permitting for this particular pipeline, the nature of the claims raised resulted in broader implications for nationwide permit (“NWP”) 12, an important nationwide permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of ...

On April 8, 2020 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its next step in conservation of the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus): finalization of the Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly on Energy and Transportation Lands (Monarch CCAA/CCA). The Monarch CCAA/CCA functions as both a candidate conservation agreement with assurances (CCAA) covering non-federal lands and a candidate conservation agreement (CCA) covering federal lands.

Authorized by Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations, CCAAs are agreements ...

COVID-19 And Endangered Species Act Compliance

Many projects require federal incidental take authority due to impacts on species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Depending upon the species, this federal take authority is obtained either from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) or National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”). These agencies provide take authority either through a Section 7 (federal consultation) incidental take statement or Section 10 (Habitat Conservation Plan) incidental take permit. These authorizations almost always require the permittee to undertake ...

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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