• Posts by Samantha A. Murray

    Samantha Murray assists clients on a full range of environmental law matters. Her practice spans litigation, regulatory law, due diligence and compliance; she regularly deals with legal issues arising under federal and state laws ...

Ninth Circuit Rules Service Improperly Designated Occupied, Unoccupied Critical Habitat for Jaguar

On May 17, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) issued its decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Case No. 20-15654), a case in which a mining company challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) designation of certain areas in southern Arizona as critical habitat for the jaguar (Panthera onca) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling that the Service improperly designated the challenged area as occupied critical habitat. With respect to the ...

Service Lists Bracted Twistflower as Threatened Species and Designates Critical Habitat

On April 11, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule listing the bracted twistflower (Streptanthus bracteatus), a wildflower native to Texas, as threatened with a rule issued under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also finalized a critical habitat designation for the species spanning approximately 1,596 acres in the Texas counties of Uvalde, Medina, Bexar, and Travis. The critical habitat designation consists of almost entirely public land, with the exception of approximately 63 acres of privately owned land (however ...

Service Proposes Listing Two Populations of California Spotted Owl Under ESA

On February 23, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule to list two distinct population segments (DPSs) of the California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis) as endangered and threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The two DPSs are the Coastal-Southern California DPS, which the Service proposes to list as endangered, and the Sierra Nevada DPS, which the Service proposes to list as threatened with a rule issued under section 4(d) of the ESA (4(d) rule). The proposed rule also serves as the Service’s 12-month finding on a petition to list ...

On January 24, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to designate approximately 104 river miles as critical habitat for the sickle darter (Percina williamsi) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The critical habitat designation would be divided into six areas—Little River, Emory River and Rock Creek, Copper Creek, North Fork Holston River, Middle Fork Holston River, and Sequatchie River—which together span Bledsoe, Blount, Morgan, and Roane Counties in Tennessee, and Scott, Smyth, and Washington Counties in Virginia. Nearly 80 percent of the ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Revised Critical Habitat for Fisher DPS

On November 7, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to designate approximately 595,495 acres of critical habitat for the Southern Sierra Nevada distinct population segment (DPS) of fisher (Pekania pennanti) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The critical habitat designation would span six units in California’s Tuolumne, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, and Tulare Counties. The majority of the land comprising these units is owned and/or managed by federal, state, or tribal governments.

The fisher is a small, carnivorous mammal native to North American ...

Bureau of Reclamation and Local Water Agency Have Discretion to Release Water from Dam to Avoid Take of Endangered Steelhead Trout

Reversing the district court, a divided panel of the Ninth Circuit held that that the Bureau of Reclamation and a local water agency have discretion to release water from Twitchell Dam on the Santa Maria River on the Central Coast of California to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act. San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper v. Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation Dist. (Ninth Cir. No. 21-55479, Sept. 23, 2022). The court concluded that a 1958 federal law (P.L. 774) authorizing the operation of the dam for purposes other than irrigation, flood control, and water conservation provided ...

Service Proposes Listing and Critical Habitat Designation for Magnificent Snail

For the magnificent ramshorn (Planorbella magnifica), a fresh-water snail species native to southeastern North Carolina, efforts to secure protection under the federal Endangered Species Act have progressed at a snail’s pace. Today, twelve years after environmentalists originally petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to list the species, the Service proposed to list the magnificent ramshorn as endangered, and to designate two ponds spanning 739 acres as critical habitat for the species. The proposed rule was prompted by a lawsuit filed by the Center of ...

Posted in Litigation
Happy the Elephant Denied Personhood

This week, the New York Court of Appeals rejected a bid for writ of habeas corpus from an unusual petitioner: Happy, a 51-year-old, female Asian elephant, currently living in captivity at the Bronx Zoo.

In its 5-2 opinion, the court held that habeas corpus only protects against the unlawful and indefinite imprisonment of human beings, and that Petitioner, the Nonhuman Rights Project, could not use the legal mechanism to bust Happy out of the zoo and into an elephant sanctuary.

Though the outcome of the case was not particularly surprising, it did feature some surprising elements—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.

Stay Connected




View All Nossaman Blogs
Jump to Page

We use cookies on this website to improve functionality, enhance performance, analyze website traffic and to enable social media features. To learn more, please see our Privacy Policy and our Terms & Conditions for additional detail.