Battle lines are being drawn in connection with ongoing efforts by lawmakers to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In a letter addressed to the leaders of both houses of Congress, the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee and the House Committee on Natural Resources, more than 400 groups requested lawmakers to oppose any bill, rider, or other policy proposal that weakens protections for endangered species and habitat. The letter's signatories include non-governmental organizations based throughout the United States, as well as national non-profits Natural ...
On June 23, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) promulgated a long-awaited final rule to delist the Hualapai Mexican vole (Microtus mexicanus hualpaiensis) (HMV) due to the Service’s determination that the original 1987 listing of the HMV under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was in error. Based upon more recent scientific and commercial information, the Service concluded that the HMV is not a distinguishable subspecies of Mexican vole and thus is not a valid taxonomic entity listable under the ESA. This error in taxonomic classification was first raised by a ...
On June 22, 2017, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will delist the Yellowstone population of the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis). According to the Service, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Distinct Population Segment (Yellowstone DPS) of the grizzly bear has recovered to the point that federal protections are no longer necessary and overall management of the species can be returned to the states and tribes.
The Yellowstone DPS consists of grizzlies in portions of northwestern Wyoming, southwestern ...
Earlier this week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) issued a notice in the Federal Register that it was reopening the comment period on five proposed rules for four plant species. Specifically, the proposed rules include the following: (1) listing Guadalupe fescue (Festuca ligulata) as an endangered species; (2) designating Guadalupe fescue critical habitat; (3) reclassifying Tobusch fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus brevihamatus ssp. tobuschii) from endangered to threatened; (4) reclassifying Kuenzler hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus fendleri var.
On June 8th, 2017, Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3353, entitled Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation and Cooperation with Western States. This Order initiates the assessment of both federal and state-led conservation efforts related to the greater sage-grouse and establishes a review panel to undertake the evaluation. The review panel will then recommend (potentially significant) changes to how the bird is managed. The stated purposes of the Order are to 1) enhance cooperation between DOI and the eleven western states comprising the ...
On May 31, 2017, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued (pdf) proposed revised guidance for the development of recovery plans as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposal is aimed at prioritizing limited agency resources to advance the recovery of threatened and endangered species. According to NMFS, this prioritization would be accomplished by focusing on the immediacy of the species’ overall extinction risk, extent of information regarding major threats, and certainty that management or protective actions could be implemented ...
On May 18, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment decision in favor of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and other federal officials in an action brought by an environmental organization concerning the possible impacts of a Nevada solar power facility on the federally listed desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). The Court rejected plaintiff’s contentions that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approvals for the construction and operation of the project ...
On May 17, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana and upheld the U.S. Forest Service’s (Forest Service) decision to construct 4.7 miles of new roads in the Kootenai National Forest. The Kootenai National Forest is managed pursuant to the Forest Service’s Kootenai National Forest Plan (Forest Plan) that includes access-related amendments prohibiting any net permanent increase in linear miles of total roads. These Forest Plan access amendments incorporate a 2011 Biological Opinion and ...
On May 8, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted, in part, a motion for summary judgment brought by plaintiffs in a suit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of the registration and use of 73 pesticides containing the active ingredients clothianidin and thiamethoxam. See Ellis v. Housenger, Case No. 13-cv-01266-MMC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70107 (N.D. Cal. May 8, 2017). Plaintiffs, a collection of individuals and a number of environmental and advocacy groups, alleged that EPA’s decision to allow ...
On April 28, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the United States District Court for the District of Montana’s finding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) determination that listing the whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) as a threatened or endangered species is warranted but precluded. Wildwest Inst. v. Kurth, No. 14-35431 (9th Cir. Apr. 28, 2017). Two environmental groups, Wildwest Institute and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies (Plaintiffs), filed a lawsuit challenging the Service’s determination, asserting that the ...
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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