Gray Wolf Removed from Endangered Species List & Environmental Groups File Notice of Intent to Sue

On November 3, 2020, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (“Service”) published a final rule removing the gray wolf (canis lupus) from the federal list of Endangered and Threatened Species in the lower 48 United States and Mexico. The rule will take effect on January 4, 2021. At the same time, the Service denied a petition, filed by environmental groups, to maintain protections for the gray wolf in the lower 48 United States. However, the Service did maintain the separate listing of the Mexican wolf subspecies as endangered, a listing that was put in place on January 16, 2015; the ...

Smelt Get a Review, But No Change In Status

On November 16, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) published its annual review of species that are candidates for listing as either threatened or endangered species, its findings on resubmitted petitions for listing actions, and its annual description of progress on pending listing actions.  Among those pending listing actions are two petitions that are highly relevant for water agencies and water users in California – a petition to reclassify the delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) and the pending listing of the longfin smelt (Spirinchus ...

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Linear infrastructure projects, including oil and gas pipelines, electric transmission lines and transportation, have faced a number of regulatory challenges over the past year, starting with last summer’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) amendments. Some of these challenges stem from changes in regulatory schemes or adverse court holdings, while others stem from uncertainty of pending ESA listing decisions and other actions. 

In our recent webinar concerning Adapting Linear Infrastructure Projects to Changing Regulatory Frameworks, we discussed the path for energy providers to move forward and reduce the risk that projects may be delayed or scrapped down the road. One of the topics we covered was the 2019 regulatory amendments to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the following video clip from the webinar, we review some of the revised definitions and updated language in the new version of the regulations.

If you would like to view the full webinar ...

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") recently released a pre-publication version of its final rule to reclassify the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).  The final rule will also include 4(d) rule provisions that specify when the ESA section 9 take prohibitions will apply to the beetle.

The American burying beetle, which gets its name from its tendency to burrow under vegetation or into soil during the daytime and throughout the winter hibernation season, is the largest ...

Posted in Litigation
Environmental Groups Allege Illegal Take of Sea Turtles by Florida Resorts

A pair of non-profit organizations recently served a 60-day notice of intent (Notice) to file a citizen suit against Hilton Hotels, Bahia Mar Resorts, and the Suntex Marinas (collectively, the Resorts) under section 9 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the alleged take of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) in Florida. ESA section 9 prohibits the unpermitted “take” of any endangered species, and the ESA defines “take” as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect,” or an attempt to do ...

USFWS Proposes Rule Codifying “Critical Habitat” Exclusion Analysis

On September 8, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a proposed rule codifying procedures for excluding areas of “critical habitat” under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). ESA section 4(b)(2) provides discretionary authority to the USFWS and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), as administrators of the ESA, to exclude certain areas from critical habitat designations for species within their purview. These agencies can exclude areas from a critical habitat designation where the agencies conclude the benefits of excluding the areas ...

Kangaroo Rat: From Endangered to Threatened

On August 19, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule that would remove the Stephens’ kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) from the federal list of Endangered Species. The proposed rule would, instead, list the kangaroo rat as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and would provide a rule under ESA section 4(d) to provide for conservation of the kangaroo rat.

The Stephens’ kangaroo rat was originally listed as an endangered species in 1988. It is a small, nocturnal mammal, with external cheek pouches, large hind legs, a long tail ...

PODCAST | Engage the Experts: The Shifting Landscape of Renewable Energy Development

We 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 “The Shifting Landscape of Renewable Energy Development,” we discuss recent changes in environmental regulations and related court decisions that are impacting project development, as well as what this shifting terrain means for the development, expansion and maintenance of renewable energy technologies. Tune in to learn about what recent regulatory and judicial developments mean for ...

California Fish and Game Commission Defers Decision on Joshua Tree

The California Fish and Game Commission deferred the decision on whether to make the western Joshua tree a candidate for listing to a special meeting in September 2020. In a hearing on August 20, 2020, the Commission heard a wide variety of perspectives on whether listing the species may be warranted. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 90-day evaluation recommended a “may be warranted” finding but at the hearing Director Bonham indicated he was open to deferring the decision in order to work with the stakeholders ... 

Court Reignites Migratory Bird Treaty Act Question

On August 11, 2020, a federal district court in New York ruled that the unintentional or incidental “take” of migratory birds is a crime under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”), vacating a Department of the Interior Solicitor’s Opinion (M-37050, referred to as an M-Opinion), which had determined that the MBTA does not apply to incidental take.

The now-vacated M-Opinion, issued by the Trump Administration in December 2017, had withdrawn and replaced an earlier M-Opinion issued in the last days of the Obama Administration (Opinion M-37041), which had interpreted the ...

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Federal Wildlife Agencies Propose Rule to Define Habitat

The Departments of Commerce and the Interior (Departments) have completed a proposed rule to define the term “habitat” as that term is used in the context of designating “critical habitat” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed rule will soon be published in the Federal Register. Upon publication, the public will be given 30 days to submit comments. If finalized, the definition will be included in the joint regulations developed by the two Departments to implement section 4(a)(3)(A)(i) of the ESA. The ESA, itself, defines the term “critical habitat” but ...

Ninth Circuit Rejects Greater Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Delisting

For the second time in a decade, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has invalidated a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to remove the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) population from the federal endangered species list.  Crow Indian Tribe v. State of Wyoming, Case No. 18-36038 (9th Cir. July 8, 2020).  In 2011, the Ninth Circuit invalidated the decision to delist the Greater Yellowstone grizzly population because the evidence did not support the Service’s conclusion that the decline of white bark pine did not threaten the ...

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WEBINAR: Key CEQA Compliance Considerations for Vehicle Miles Traveled Analyses

Please join us on August 4th from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PT for “Key CEQA Compliance Considerations for Vehicle Miles Traveled Analyses.” This complimentary webinar will examine the California Natural Resources Agency’s new guidelines for traffic and transportation impacts analyses under CEQA through legal, planning and technical perspectives. We will be joined by well-known transit practitioners Keith Greer, Senior Environmental Planner at the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), and Ronald Milam, Principal at the transportation planning firm Fehr & ...

NEPA Rules Finalized; Effect Remains to be Seen

On July 16, 2020, the Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) released in final form its eagerly anticipated revisions the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations (NEPA Rules). Publication of the NEPA Rules comes just six months after CEQ published proposed versions of the same—a move which drew more than one million public comments, many of which were form letters.  

As signaled by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the purpose of the NEPA Rules is to facilitate more efficient review of federal agency actions.  To a considerable extent, the new rules ...

Klamath Dam Removal Now in Question

Over the past decade, proponents of an effort to remove four dams on the lower Klamath River have hit a series of roadblocks.  The most recent came on July 16, 2020, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted 3-0 to partially transfer the license for the four dams to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) but also required PacifiCorp, the current owner and operator of the dams, to remain a co-licensee.  FERC determined that retaining PacifiCorp as co-licensee is in the public interest because of significant uncertainty regarding the proposed dam ...

WEBINAR: Adapting Your Linear Infrastructure Projects to Changing Regulatory Frameworks

Please join us for a complimentary webinar on July 30, 2020 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PT, where we will discuss the path for energy providers to move forward and reduce the risk that projects may be delayed or scrapped down the road. We will examine...

Transmission Line Permit Invalidated, USFWS Ordered to Redo Endangered Species Act Analyses

On June 17, 2020, a federal court in Colorado vacated an incidental take permit (ITP) issued to the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) authorizing take of the endangered American burying beetle (ABB) that could occur in connection with NPPD’s construction and operation of the 225-mile R-Project transmission line (R Project). The court vacated the ITP on the grounds that its issuance by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act ...

Law Seminars International’s CEQA and the NEPA Rewrite Seminar

Please join me for Law Seminars International’s virtual event, CEQA and the NEPA Rewrite Seminar, on July 29th. From 2:00 to 2:45 p.m. PT, I will be presenting “Climate Change and Cumulative Impacts Analysis: Energy Infrastructure Projects,” and speaking on the...

Trump Executive Order: Environmental Streamlining or Political Quagmire?

On June 4, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order to provide federal agencies the foundation to speed up environmental permitting in the wake of COVID-19. While the move was lauded by many, others view the executive order as an impermissible use of executive power to circumvent environmental protections. The Center for Biological Diversity has already announced its plans to pursue litigation challenging the EO, alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act. 

Executive Order 13927, “Accelerating the Nation’s Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Emergency ...

WEBINAR: A Path to Transit and Transportation Project Success in the Wake of the Pandemic

For those of you involved in the transportation sector, we invite you to join us on Wednesday, June 3rd for a discussion on planning, procurement and financing strategies that can be implemented now to support timely project delivery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are planning a very interactive webinar where ample time will be set aside to answer questions received from attendees both prior to and during the event.

Topics that will be covered include:

  • How to prepare now to efficiently and effectively move projects forward
  • Procurement and contracting strategies that enable ...
Service Seeking Comments on Fisher Conservation Agreement 

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") has recently received an application for an incidental take permit under Endangered Species Act section 10(a)(l)(A) to authorize take of the West Coast distinct population segment ("DPS") of fisher (Pekania pennanti) ("fisher") should it or its subpopulations become federally listed. As we have previously reported, the Service recently listed the Southern Sierra Nevada DPS of fisher as an endangered species.

The permit application, submitted by Oregon-based timberland investment company Chinook Forest Partners ...

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 ...

Water Supply & Delivery Projects Under the ESA

Recently, Lyn Clancy, Managing Associate General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the Lower Colorado River Authority, and I presented on the topic of Endangered Species and Water Supply at the State Bar of Texas’ Changing Face of Water Law Conference in San Antonio. Issues of water supply and delivery continue to be a hot topic nationwide, including in Texas, and supply and delivery projects often intersect with the need to address species of plants and wildlife listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The presentation included several primary takeaways ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Withdraws Proposal to List Bi-State Population of Greater Sage Grouse, Designate Critical Habitat

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has withdrawn its 2013 proposals to list the bi-state distinct population segment of the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in California and Nevada as threatened, to designate critical habitat, and to issue a species-specific Endangered Species Act section 4(d) rule. The Service indicated in its withdrawal that the agency has concluded that threats to the species were not as significant as the agency believed in 2013.

The listing, critical habitat, and 4(d) rules for the bi-state distinct population segment of the ...

Do Yellowstone Park Bison Deserve ESA Protection?

According to a handful of environmental groups, the answer is a definitive yes. And after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (“FWS”) issued a 90-day finding concluding in the alternative, earlier this week three environmental groups decided to take FWS to court. The lawsuit was filed by the Buffalo Field Campaign, Friends of Animals, and Western Watersheds Project. According to the press release issued by one of the environmental groups, FWS “applied the wrong evidentiary standard, and disregarded evidence of factors that imperil the unique and distinct subpopulations of ...

Tenth Circuit Sends Jaguar Critical Habitat Back to District Court

On March 17, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Tenth Circuit) overturned a New Mexico district court decision in which the lower court upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) designation of two units of critical habitat for the jaguar (Panthera onca). In 2014, USFWS designated more than 750,000 acres of critical habitat, spread across 6 critical habitat units (CHU) in Arizona and New Mexico. USFWS based its designation of two of these CHUs – CHUs 5 and 6 – in part on the agency’s position that these CHUs were occupied by the jaguar at the time the ...

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its opening of 5-year status reviews for 25 southeastern species and 10 southwestern species. Among the species included in the status review are the dusky gopher frog (Lithobates sevosus), Jollyville Plateau salamander (Eurycea tonkawae), and many other species of fish, wildlife, and plants. Five-year status reviews are required under section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Endangered Species Act and serve to inform USFWS whether a given species warrants a change in listing status (e.g., de-listing or a change from threatened ...

CEQ’s Proposed NEPA Regulations: No Significant Changes for Highway and Transit Projects

The Eno Center for Transportation published a two-part article in the Eno Transportation Weekly, authored by Ed Kussy, that focuses on the potential implications of the changes proposed by the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) modifying the regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), with particular emphasis on federal surface transportation programs.  The first part was published on February 21.  We recently posted our summary of Part 1 of the article here.

Part 2 of the Eno article focuses on four parts of the NPRM that have received considerable attention ...

CEQ’s Proposed NEPA Regulations:  Terrible or So Very Helpful for Surface Transportation Projects?

The Eno Center for Transportation published a two-part article in the Eno Transportation Weekly that focuses on the potential implications of the changes proposed by the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) modifying the regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), with particular emphasis on federal surface transportation programs. 

The article examines whether, at least for surface transportation programs, the changes to the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) proposed revisions are as dramatic as reported.  We posit that ...

On February 21, 2020, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) voted 4-0 to adopt a new Delta fisheries management policy and a revised Striped bass policy supported by Commission staff and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department).  The Delta fisheries management policy is notable because:

  • it provides that the Commission and Department will rely on “credible science” (a term defined in the Fish and Game Code) to develop strategies and recommendations to manage fisheries;
  • it includes the express recognition that listed species have highest priority; ...
California Files Challenge to Federal Decisions Governing Operation of California Water Projects

The State of California recently sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue to the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior and concurrently filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the biological opinions and associated environmental impact statement (EIS) for operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project (collectively, the “Projects”).  The Projects provide water to more than 25 million water users in northern, central, and southern California, and are one of the primary sources of water for wholesale water ...

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On February 19, 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation issued a Record of Decision (ROD) on the reinitiation of consultation on the coordinated long-term operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project.  At the same time, the President signed a memorandum on developing and delivering more water supplies in California. The Department of the Interior issued a press release describing these actions. 

The execution of the ROD signals the shift from operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project under the biological opinions issued by the U.S. Fish and ...

Paul Weiland Discusses Impact to California’s Agricultural Community if Bees Protected by ESA

Paul Weiland was interviewed on Air Talk radio (an NPR affiliate based in Southern California) regarding the California Fish and Game Commission’s recent decision to list four native bees as candidates to become endangered species.

Paul discussed the negative repercussions such an action could have for the agricultural community in California—such as disrupting planting and harvest cycles, and whether classifying bees as fish (for the purpose of an ESA listing) is permissible under current California law ...

When a Petition to List Fails But the Species is Still Listed

On February 5, 2020, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued its 12-month finding on the petition to list summer-run steelhead in Northern California (Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), concluding that listing is not warranted because the summer-run steelhead does not qualify as a distinct population segment of the Northern California steelhead. Despite the negative finding, the summer-run steelhead is still protected under the ESA. How is that possible, you ask?

Simple, I say. The summer-run and winter-run ...

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently affirmed a lower court decision that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers need not consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act regarding the operation of dams and other facilities on the Rio Grande River, in WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 18-2153 (10th Cir. Jan. 17, 2020).  The dispositive issue in the case was whether the Corps has discretion to act such that it is obliged to engage in consultation regarding the effects of its operation of the Middle Rio ...

USFWS Proposes to Codify Trump Administration Position on MBTA

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released a pre-publication version of its long-awaited update to regulations governing Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) implementation (Proposed Regulations). Significantly, the Proposed Regulations explicitly state that unintentional, non-purposeful, or “incidental” take of migratory birds is not prohibited by the MBTA’s “take” prohibition. USFWS has also published a pre-publication version of a notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement pursuant to the National Environmental ...

Posted in Listing, Litigation
Court Remands Northern Long-eared Bat Listing Back to USFWS

Yesterday, in Center for Biological Diversity v. Everson​, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia overturned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) decision to list the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentriodnalis) as threatened rather than endangered, and remanded the decision back to the agency.  The threatened listing will remain intact while USFWS undertakes a new listing decision.

In addition to remanding the threatened listing decision back to the USFWS, the court also vacated a portion of the USFWS’s and National Marine ...

On January 28, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a notice and request for information in connection with USFWS’s initiation of 5-year status reviews for 66 species found in California and Nevada.  Among the species subject to review are the bay checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis), Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierra), the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), Morro Bay kangaroo rat (Dipodomys heermanni morroensis), and many other plants and wildlife species.  A full list of species subject to the 5-year ...

Service Launches Comprehensive Review of Grizzly Bear ESA Status

On Tuesday, January 14, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a federal register notice that it will be commencing a comprehensive study of the status of the Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis).  This study, called a 5-year status review, could lead to a change in the bear’s status as a protected species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  This 5-year review was spurred by a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, which alleged that the Service failed to complete the required status review on time.  The Service and Center for Biological ...

On January 15, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court decision that upheld the determination of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) denying a petition to delist the Golden-Cheeked Warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia) (Warbler). The Service listed the Warbler as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1990, initially on an emergency basis.

The petition to delist the Warbler was submitted to the Service in 2015 by a group of petitioners that included the General Land Office of the State of Texas. The petition ...

On January 6, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register announcing the agency’s finding that the Kanab ambersnail (Oxyloma haydeni kanabensis) is no longer warranted for listing as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed rule states that the Kanab ambersnail does not represent a valid taxonomic entity, and therefore does not meet the definition of “species” under the ESA. The ESA defines “species” as including ''any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.”

The Kanab ambersnail, which gets its name from its mottled, amber-colored shell, is a terrestrial snail ...

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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