• Posts by Samantha A. Murray
    Associate

    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 ...

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.

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