Posts in Conservation.
FERC Approves Surrender License for Lower Klamath Project

On November 17, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) voted unanimously to issue an Order Modifying and Approving Surrender License and Removal of Project Facilities (“Order”) for the Lower Klamath Project (“Project”). The Order allows the dams’ private operator to surrender its operating license and was one of the final hurdles for the largest dam removal project in United States history. The $450 million project involves the removal of four dams along the Klamath River near the border of Northern California and Southern Oregon.

A noteworthy ...

Court Sends Endangered Species Act Regulations Back to the Agencies

On November 16, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (District Court) remanded three sets of Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations promulgated in 2019 under the Trump administration back to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, Services) for reconsideration. The three regulations addressed: how species are listed and delisted and critical habitat designated under ESA section 4; interagency consultation under ESA section 7; and a final rule repealing USFWS’s blanket ESA ...

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 ...

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Back in Court

On October 25, 2022, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) over the agency’s failure to timely finalize a proposed rule to list the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) (LEPC). CBD seeks an order from the court declaring the Service is in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to timely list the LEPC and requiring the Service to publish one or more final rules by a date certain.

On June 1, 2021, and in response to a 2016 petition to list the LEPC, the Service proposed to list two distinct population ...

Service Proposes Listing Two California Salamander Species with Critical Habitat Designations

On October 18, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced 12-month findings on a petition to list three California-based salamander species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA): the Kern Plateau salamander (Batrachoseps robustus), the Kern Canyon slender salamander (Batrachoseps simatus), and the relictual slender salamander (Batrachoseps relictus). All three salamander species occur in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. The Service determined that listing the Kern Canyon slender salamander and the relictual slender salamander is ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Listing Two Snakes and Designating Critical Habitat

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to list two snake species, the Key ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus acricus) and the rim rock crowned snake (Tantilla oolitica), as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also proposed to designate critical habitat for these nonvenomous snakes, including approximately 2,604 acres in Monroe County and approximately 5,972 acres in Miami-Dade County and Monroe County, Florida for the Key ring-necked snake and rim rock crowned snake, respectively. The proposal comes as a result of a ...

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 ...

Smoother Sailing for Eagles and Industry Ahead?

On September 30, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to amend its eagle permit regulations (Proposed Rule) administered in accordance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). The Proposed Rule seeks to improve administration of the eagle permit program by establishing a general permit pathway for eligible wind energy and power line applicants for incidental take of golden eagles and bald eagles. Eligibility criteria proposed by the Service for participation in the general permit program include factors such as eagle ...

9th Circuit Puts ESA Rules Vacatur on Hold

On September 21, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) stayed a July 5, 2022 order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (District Court) vacating several Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations promulgated by the Trump Administration in 2019 (2019 Rules). In a brief order, the Ninth Circuit indicated the District Court “clearly” erred in vacating the 2019 Rules without first ruling on their underlying legal validity. As a result of the decision of the Ninth Circuit, the District Court’s vacatur of the 2019 Rules is ...

More Bat News, Service Proposes to List Tricolored Bat as Endangered

On September 14, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to list the tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) (TRBA) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The TRBA is known to occur in all or portions of 39 states across the northeast, as far south as southern Texas and Florida and as far west as Wyoming. Similar to the proposed rule to list the northern long-eared bat as endangered published earlier this year, the proposed rule cites white nose syndrome as the primary threat to the TRBA, but notes other factors influence the ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agrees to Make Listing Decision on Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

On August 25, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) filed a stipulated settlement agreement (Agreement) in a case challenging the agency’s failure to timely make a 12-month finding on a petition to list the dunes sagebrush lizard (Scleroperus arenicolus) (Petition). Under the Agreement, the Service will submit a 12-month finding on the Petition to the Federal Register no later than June 29, 2023. The 12-month finding will determine whether listing the species is warranted (and will simultaneously issue a proposed rule to list the species), whether listing the ...

On August 23, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a notice in response to petitions seeking to list, delist, or revise the critical habitat of four species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service found the petitions to list the Fish Lake Valley tui chub (Siphateles bicolor ssp. 4) and to delist the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) “present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted,” and are therefore initiating status reviews to determine whether to list and delist the species, respectively. …

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 ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Input On Conservation Banking Rules

On July 27, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) seeking comment on species conservation banking. Species conservation banking gives developers and other entities the opportunity to mitigate potential harm to wildlife by allowing them to purchase habitat or species credits from bank owners. The ANPR is a result of a provision in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that required the Service to issue regulations for species conservation banking programs. Although the ANPR stems from the NDAA ...

Court Vacates Trump-Era ESA Regulations

On July 5, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order vacating three Trump-era regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).

In 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, the “Services”) issued three final rules (“2019 ESA Rules”) modifying how the Services implement the ESA, including: (1) a rule under section 4 of the ESA concerning how the Services list, delist, and reclassify endangered or threatened species and the criteria for ...

Habitat Definition No Longer Applies in Critical Habitat Designations

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, Services) published a final rule rescinding the Trump administration’s 2020 final rule defining “habitat” for the purpose of informing designation of areas as “critical habitat” (2020 Rule) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In rescinding the definition of “habitat,” the Services explained they were removing an “excessive constraint” on the agencies’ ability to designate critical habitat under the ESA. Specifically, the Services ...

Listing Decision on Western Joshua Tree Delayed by Tied Vote

On June 16, 2022, a vote by the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) on whether the Western Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) should be listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) resulted in a 2-2 tie. Pursuant to the Commission’s rules, the Western Joshua tree will remain a “candidate” under CESA and the issue will be taken up again at a subsequent Commission meeting. The Commission will take up the Western Joshua tree’s listing status at the agency’s October 12-13, 2022 meeting and will re-open the comment period on the species’ ...

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Back in Court

On May 19, 2022, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) failure to make a timely 12-month finding on the group’s petition to list the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) (DSL), which was submitted to the agency in 2018.

The DSL is no stranger to controversy. In 2002, CBD and others petitioned the Service to list the DSL due to alleged threats to the species’ habitat caused by oil and gas production. In 2004, the Service determined that ...

Federal Court Orders Service to Take a Third Look at Bi-State Sage Grouse Listing Status

On May 16, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California overturned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) March 31, 2020 withdrawal (2020 Withdrawal) of a proposed Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing and section 4(d) rule for the “bi-state population” of the greater sage grouse (Bi-state Grouse). The Bi-state Grouse lives along the California-Nevada border within six population management units (PMUs) monitored by the Service.   

The Service proposed the Bi-state Grouse for listing as threatened in 2013, then later withdrew that proposal ...

CEQ Finalizes First Phase of NEPA Revisions

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has finalized revisions to portions of the agency’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations (Phase I Regulations), which had been revised in 2020 under the Trump Administration (2020 Regulations). CEQ received more than 90,000 public comments in response to its proposal to revise the 2020 Regulations. In its final Phase I Regulations, CEQ declined to make substantial changes to the version proposed.

CEQ has indicated that the Phase I Regulations represent a “narrow” set of changes to address the Biden ...

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule to list the sand dune phacelia (Phacelia argentea) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), along with a proposed section 4(d) rule that would prohibit several activities with respect to the species.  The proposed rule also includes a designation of approximately 252 acres of critical habitat in Del Norte County in California, and Coos and Curry Counties in Oregon. 

The sand dune phacelia is an evergreen, herbaceous, flowering perennial in the forget-me-not family of plants.  It blooms from ...

Biden Administration Prepares Compensatory Mitigation Policy

On March 22, 2022, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) an Endangered Species Act (ESA)-specific compensatory mitigation policy (Policy). While the text of the Policy is not publicly available at this time, many have speculated that an updated Policy may mirror that which was in place under the Obama Administration.

On December 27, 2016, the Service published its final ESA Compensatory Mitigation Policy (2016 Policy) establishing the agency’s goal that compensatory mitigation provided under ESA ...

The New Endangered Species "Protection" Requirements for Steelhead Trout Will Impact Water Managers’ Options and Groundwater Sustainability Plans

Join us on March 29, 2022, when we will participate in the 2022 Annual AGWT-AGWA California Groundwater Issues Conference in Lakewood, CA, hosted by American Ground Water Trust and Association of Ground Water Agencies.

We will be providing a presentation entitled “The New Endangered Species ‘Protection’ Requirements for Steelhead Trout Will Impact Water Managers’ Options and Groundwater Sustainability Plans.” During this session, we will discuss how the new California endangered species listing will affect operations from Santa Maria, in the central ...

Fish and Wildlife Service Publishes Hotly Anticipated Northern Long-Eared Bat Proposal

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has announced its proposal to list the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) (NLEB) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (Proposed Rule). While Service policy indicates the agency should identify in a listing rule activities that would or would not result in a violation of the “take” prohibition set forth in section 9 of the ESA, the Service indicates in the Proposed Rule that it is unable to identify specific activities what would not violate the take prohibition. The Service points to the need for ...

Last Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an order on competing motions in the coordinated cases challenging the 2019 biological opinions (BiOps) that govern operation of California’s State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project (Projects). The hefty order, which spanned over a hundred and twenty pages, attempted to distill the thousands of pages of briefing the parties submitted on the matter. Admittedly, stakes were high: these two Projects supply water to more than 25 million Californians and to farmers across the ...

On February 9, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado found that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it failed to reinitiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) prior to approving oil and gas leases. BLM had issued the leases for parcels of land in Southwest Colorado located within Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) habitat and other proposed and existing areas of environmental concern.

The ESA requires federal agencies to review federal actions “at the earliest possible time ...

California Court Maintains Protections for Western Joshua Tree

On February 16, 2022, a California state court upheld protections afforded the western Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The ruling came in connection with a lawsuit filed by the California Construction and Industrial Materials Association and others (Plaintiffs), alleging that the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) failed to abide by its own rules in finding a petition to list the western Joshua tree indicated listing the tree may be warranted. A Commission finding that listing a species under CESA may be warranted ...

District Court Reverses Trump-Era Rule, Restoring Gray Wolf ESA Protections

Last week, a decision out of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California restored Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) across most of the contiguous United States.

In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule removing federal protections for the last two remaining gray wolf entities listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA.  The final rule asserted delisting was warranted because neither the Minnesota entity nor the 44-state entity qualified as a species, subspecies, or distinct population ...

On February 8, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published findings on several petitions to list species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), some of which have been highly anticipated.

Pursuant to an August 2020 settlement agreement between the Service, WildEarth Guardians, and Western Watersheds Project, the Service published a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Sonoran desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai). The tortoise is patchily distributed across 68,600 square miles in the Sonoran Desert ecoregion of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. In its 12-month ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has issued a final rule reclassifying the Morro shoulderband snail (Helminthoglypta walkeriana) from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The final rule also includes a rule issued under ESA section 4(d) to provide for the conservation of the species.

The Morro shoulderband snail, or banded dune snail, is a type of terrestrial snail named after the dark band on the shoulder of its shell. The species is typically found in dense clumps of grass, young patches of ice plant, and stockpiled anthropogenic ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Listing Small Butterfly as Endangered

On January 25, 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule to list the Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas anicia cloudcrofti) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly is a small butterfly with dark brown, red, orange, and cream coloring, punctuated by black spots and dark lines, on its wings. The butterfly is a subspecies of the Anicia checkerspot, or variable checkerspot, in the Nymphalidae family, and is native to the Sacramento Mountains in south-central New ...

Fish and Game Commission to Consider Protections for Southern California Steelhead

In July 2021, CalTrout submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) to list a population of the fish Oncorhynchus mykiss, referred to as the Southern California Steelhead or Southern Steelhead, as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The population extends from the Santa Maria River system on the central coast of California to the border with Mexico. ... 

Golden-Cheeked Warbler Back in Federal Court

On January 12, 2022, the General Land Office of Texas (GLO) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) July 27, 2021 negative 90-day finding on a petition to delist the endangered golden-cheeked warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia) (Negative 90-day Finding). The Negative 90-day Finding is the second 90-day finding issued by the Service on the same petition to delist the golden-cheeked warbler.

GLO challenged the first 90-day finding, published on June 3, 2016, as arbitrary and capricious on ...

On Science and Intellectual Humility in Resource Management

Recently, I authored a post for DeltaCurrents, the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management's blog. The focus of the piece is on science and humility. It is a topic of broad importance in society though I focus on it in the resource management context, and, specifically, as it pertains to California's Bay-Delta.

For the past three decades, the federal and California governments and diverse stakeholders have looked to scientists to explain the causes of the long-term population declines in fish species native to California’s Bay-Delta in an effort to chart a ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has issued a final rule listing the Panama City crayfish (Procambarus econfinae) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), along with a section 4(d) rule limiting take of the species.  The final rule also includes a designation of eight units of critical habitat, totaling approximately 4,138 acres, in Bay County, Florida.

The Panama City crayfish is a small, semi-terrestrial crayfish that grows to about two inches in length (minus claws), and is found in southcentral Bay County, Florida.  The species’ color pattern ...

Diminutive Desert Owl Makes Big Waves

On December 22, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed to list the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) (Owl) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) primarily due to threats from climate change and habitat loss and fragmentation. The Service has also proposed to issue an ESA section 4(d) rule which would prohibit “take” of the Owl in most cases, while exempting from the prohibition certain land management activities compatible with restoration and improvement of Owl habitat where such activities have been ...

Department of the Interior Releases Hefty Agenda

On December 10, 2021, the Biden Administration released the Fall 2021 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda), which is a semi-annual compilation of information concerning regulations and policy under development by federal agencies. Department of the Interior (DOI) entries on the Unified Agenda reveal a lengthy set of planned regulatory actions, some of which may have an impact on development and deployment of energy, construction and operation of transportation and other infrastructure, and various other economic activities. … 

Assessment of Service’s Move to Rescind Definition of Habitat

This week, I published a post on the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management’s DeltaCurrents blog discussing the Biden administration’s proposal to rescind the definition of habitat.  The definition was promulgated by the Trump administration in response to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 in Weyerhauser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a case involving a challenge to the rule designating critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog in the American southeast. … 

Threatened Listing and 4(d) Rule for Texas Plant Species

On November 10, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a proposed rule to list the bracted twistflower (Streptanthus bracteatus), a plant species found only in Texas, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The USFWS is proposing to list the bracted twistflower with a species-specific rule under section 4(d) of the ESA (4(d) rule), as well as to designate approximately 1,607 acres in central Texas as critical habitat for the species.

The bracted twistflower is a flowering annual plant and a member of the mustard family that can grow over ...

Service Revises Critical Habitat Designation for Northern Spotted Owl

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule revising the critical habitat designation for the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The final rule rescinds a previous rule issued by the Trump Administration on January 15, 2021, which was set to take effect this coming December, and would have excluded approximately 3.4 million acres from the species’ critical habitat designation.  Instead, the Service’s new final rule excludes from the designation only 204,294 acres located across multiple ...

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Conservation Group Sues USFWS over Protections for Two California Fish Species

Last week, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleging that the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it failed to timely determine whether the Santa Ana speckled dace (hinichthys osculus ssp.) and the Long Valley speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus ssp.) warrant listing as endangered or threatened species. … 

Service Proposes Critical Habitat Designation for Coastal DPS of Pacific Marten

On October 25, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the coastal distinct population segment (DPS) of Pacific marten (Martes caurina), also known as coastal marten, under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  In the proposed rule, the Service identifies a total of approximately 1,413,305 acres of land in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon to designate as critical habitat for the coastal marten. 

Listed as a threatened species in October 2020, the coastal marten is a medium-sized carnivore in the ...

On October 14, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule to list the bog buck moth (Hemileuca maia menyanthevora) (= H.iroquois) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Federal Register notice also states that the Service will make a final determination on the proposed listing within one year, and that it is seeking comments on the proposed designation.

The bog buck moth occurs in groundwater-fed wetlands in Oswego County, New York, and Ontario, Canada, with large amounts of bog buckbean (a plant that is a key food source, or “host plant” for bog buck moth larvae, much as milkweed is a host plant for monarch butterfly larvae). …

Service Finds Humpback Chub Swimming In The Right Direction

On October 18, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule reclassifying the humpback chub (Gila cypha), a fish endemic to portions of the Colorado River basin, from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service attributed the chub’s status upgrade largely in part to modifications in how reservoir managers are operating their facilities, and the management of nonnative predators.

The chub was first listed as an endangered species in 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act, a predecessor to the ESA.  In 1974, the ...

Biden Administration Turns Its Focus on Birds

In the last few weeks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has published several major regulatory actions affecting federal avian protections.  The Service has repealed a Trump-era rule that excluded incidental take from liability under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), issued guidance for enforcement of the MBTA against incidental take, and invited comment on a potential MBTA permitting program.  Separately, the Service has invited comment on ways to improve its existing permitting program for the incidental take of eagles (Eagle Permit Program). … 

One Step Back for NEPA Regulations

On October 7, 2021, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) will publish the first of two proposed rulemakings to revise National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations that had previously been updated in 2020 under the Trump Administration. As stated by CEQ in the proposal, the agency intends to “generally restore” NEPA regulations that were in place prior to the 2020 updates.

In this first phase of NEPA regulatory revisions, CEQ addresses the agency’s definition of “purpose and need,” the definition of “effects” of the action, and agency procedures for ...

Service Proposes Delisting 23 Species Due to Extinction and One Spider Due to Taxonomic Revision

Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published two proposed rules to delist a total of 24 species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  First, the Service published a proposed rule delist 23 species as a result of the species’ extinction.  The 23 now-extinct species include thirteen species of birds, eight freshwater mussels, one Texas fish, and one Hawaiian plant.  The Federal Register notice indicates that, based on the best available scientific and commercial data, these species are no longer extant, and therefore no longer meet the definitions of ...

USFWS Issues 12-month Findings on Chipmunk, Moss, Butterflies, and Springsnails

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued three separate notices in the Federal Register concerning the agency’s 12-month findings on a number of petitions to list various wildlife and plants under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

First, the USFWS announced a positive 12-month finding on a petition to list the Peñasco least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus atristriatus), a small mammal from New Mexico.  The USFWS proposes to list the Peñasco least chipmunk as an endangered species under the ESA and to designate approximately 6,574 acres of land as critical ...

USFWS Ordered to Take Another Look at Joshua Tree

On September 20, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California set aside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) negative 12-month finding (Finding) on a petition by WildEarth Guardians (Guardians) to list the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The petition had alleged that the Joshua tree is threatened by the effects of climate change and its associated effects, including drought and increasing wildfires. On September 14, 2016, the Service issued a positive finding on Guardians’ petition ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Consider Re-Listing Gray Wolf Populations Under ESA

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its 90-day findings on petitions to list two proposed distinct population segments (DPS) of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA): a Northern Rocky Mountains DPS and a Western United States DPS. The Service determined that listing may be warranted, and announced its intention to initiate a status review for these populations of the species.

In 1978, except for the Minnesota population, the gray wolf was listed as an endangered species throughout 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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