Posts in Conservation.
California’s “Room to Roam Act:” Factoring Wildlife Connectivity Into Land Use Planning

Recently, the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 1889, the “Room to Roam Act.” If enacted without changes, the Room to Roam Act would amend Section 65302 of the Government Code to add certain “fish, wildlife, and habitat connectivity” considerations to the provisions governing general plans for land use in Californian cities and counties.

The bill’s passage in the Assembly is a significant development in efforts to reform California’s land use and wildlife conservation policies, as the bill would require local land use decisions to factor in wildlife movement ...

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Earns Spot on Endangered Species List

On May 20, 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule listing the dunes sagebrush lizard (Scleroperus arenicolus) (DSL) as endangered (Final Rule) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the Final Rule, the Service identifies habitat loss and fragmentation of dunelands associated with oil and natural gas production and frac sand mining as the primary threat to the species, with climate change causing additional impacts.

The Service received more than 18,000 comments on its proposed rule to list the DSL, with many urging the Service not to list the ...

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Vineyard Wind Approvals in Two Separate Appeals

On April 24 and 25, 2024, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit unanimously upheld two federal district court decisions rejecting challenges to the federal approvals for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm in the cases of Nantucket Residents Against Turbines v. U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (ACK RATs),[1] No. 23-1501, and Melone v. Coit et al., No. 23-1736. Each of the cases challenged different aspects of the federal government’s approvals for Vineyard Wind, but both argued that the project would harm the endangered North Atlantic right whale ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Make Final Listing Decision for Texas Mussel Species

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Center for Biological Diversity entered into a settlement agreement wherein the Service agreed to submit to the Federal Register final listing decisions on the following six mussel species no later than May 23, 2024:

  • Texas fatmucket (Lampsilis bracteate);
  • Guadalupe fatmucket (Lampsilis bergmanni);
  • Texas fawnsfoot (Truncilla macrodon);
  • Texas pimpleback (Cyclonaias (= Quadrula) petrina);
  • Guadalupe orb (Cyclonaias necki); and
  • False spike (Fusconaia (= Quincuncina) mitchelli).

As Nossaman previously reported, on ...

Advocacy Groups File Endangered Species Act Suit Against Virginia Offshore Wind Project

On March 18, three advocacy organizations and their members filed a lawsuit challenging an offshore wind project against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The lawsuit alleges that the Biological Opinion (BiOp) issued by NMFS for Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because it fails to adequately analyze the project's impacts on the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). … 

New Jersey Federal Court Dismisses Challenge to Incidental Take Authorizations for Offshore Wind Projects

On February 29, 2024, the federal District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed a challenge to eleven incidental take authorizations (ITAs) issued for offshore wind projects off the coasts of New York and New Jersey in the case of Save Long Beach Island v. United States Department of Commerce. The challenged ITAs had been issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in 2022 and 2023 pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), 16 U.S.C. § 1361 et seq. The Plaintiffs also challenged five pending applications for ITAs that had not yet been issued at the time they ...

On February 28, 2024, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) denial of a petition filed by the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (Cattle Growers) urging the Service to remove the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) (flycatcher) from the list of endangered species (Petition). The Cattle Growers had argued that the Service’s denial of the Petition, and specifically the agency’s finding that the flycatcher is a valid subspecies of the unlisted willow flycatcher, violated the ...

Groups Petition California Fish and Game Commission to List Western Burrowing Owl

On March 5, 2024, the Center for Biological Diversity and several other groups submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission (the Commission) to list the western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) as endangered or threatened pursuant to the California Endangered Species Act. The petition identifies five separate populations (or evolutionarily significant units (ESUs)) of burrowing owls and petitions to list three as endangered and two as threatened. Alternatively, the petition requests that the Commission consider either (i) listing a greater ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Establishes Expedited Eagle Permits

On February 12, 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule creating new permitting pathways and revising existing regulations for the take of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). Bald and golden eagles are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), which prohibits take of the species except pursuant to federal regulations. The updated rule is the result of a settlement agreement between the Service and the Energy Wildlife and Action Coalition, which prompted the Service to revisit its ...

BOEM and NOAA Fisheries Announce Final North Atlantic Right Whale and Offshore Wind Strategy

On January 25, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries released a final North Atlantic Right Whale and Offshore Wind Strategy (the “Strategy”). The Strategy expresses the agencies’ joint goal of protecting and promoting the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) while responsibly developing offshore wind energy.

The North Atlantic right whale (NARW) population has declined significantly over the past decade. Population estimates through December 2022 indicate ...

CBD Lawsuit Challenges Service’s Failure to Prevent Toxic Pesticides from Harming Endangered Species

On February 1, 2024, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed an amended complaint (Complaint) in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, alleging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) failed to timely analyze the harmful effects of six pesticides on species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and their habitats. The lawsuit stems from the Service’s failure to issue biological opinions to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to that agency’s request for formal ESA section 7 consultation with the Service over the EPA’s 2017 and 2021 ...

Resource Optimization and Endangered Species Management

On December 21, 2023, I published a post on the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management’s DeltaCurrents blog discussing integration of resource optimization into endangered species policy to improve conservation outcomes. Resource optimization is the allocation of finite resources in the most efficient manner possible. In the context of wildlife management, it is a structured process to select a management action from among available alternatives intended to result in the most efficient allocation of resources to achieve a specified objective. … 

Unified Agenda Forecasts Proposed and Final Listings and Critical Habitat Designations for Species Found in Eastern States

As previously reported, on December 6, the Biden Administration published the Fall 2023 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda), outlining the various regulatory and deregulatory actions the Biden Administration plans to take in the near future. Among the Unified Agenda entries are numerous U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) actions to propose or finalize endangered and threatened species listings and critical habitat designations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Below is a sampling of potential species listings and critical ...

Unified Agenda Forecasts Anticipated Timing of ESA Regulations

As we have previously reported, on December 6, the Biden Administration released the Fall 2023 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda). The Unified Agenda, published twice a year, lists the upcoming rulemakings, policies, notices, revisions, and other actions that federal executive agencies plan to complete over the next several months. This most recent iteration of the Unified Agenda is notable in that it represents the slate of actions the Biden Administration hopes to complete in advance of a potential change in administrations … 

Western States Will See Species Listings, Critical Habitat Designations According to Unified Agenda

As we have previously reported, on December 6, the Biden Administration released the Fall 2023 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda), which lists the regulatory and deregulatory actions that federal administrative agencies—including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service)—plan to take in the coming year. According to the Unified Agenda, the western United States can expect a number of proposed and final rules to list species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to designate critical habitat ...

Unified Agenda Foretells Species Listings, Critical Habitat Designations for Texas

On December 6, the Biden Administration released the Fall 2023 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda), which lists the regulatory and deregulatory actions the various federal administrative agencies—including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service)—plan to take in the near future. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs publishes an updated Unified Agenda twice a year, in the spring and fall. There are numerous entries in the Unified Agenda addressing future action by the Service to list species as threatened or endangered ...

Service Lists Population of North American Wolverine as Threatened with Interim 4(d) Rule

On November 30, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule listing a distinct population segment (DPS) of the North American wolverine (Gulo gulo luscas) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The wolverine is a medium-sized carnivore found in Alaska, Canada and the western-northwestern United States. The current listing is limited to the DPS of wolverine occurring in the contiguous United States. In the Federal Register notice … 

Advocacy Groups Threaten Endangered Species Act Lawsuit Against Virginia Offshore Wind Project

On November 13, two advocacy organizations submitted a notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The notice letter alleges that the September 18, 2023 Biological Opinion (BiOp) issued by NMFS for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because it fails to adequately analyze and mitigate the project's impacts on the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). … 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Listing Oblong Rocksnail, Once Believed Extinct

On October 31, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposed listing the oblong rocksnail (Leptoxis compacta) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The freshwater snail exists only in the Cahaba River in central Alabama and subsists on algae growing on the riverbed. The oblong rocksnail was declared extinct in 2000 after several decades without a confirmed specimen observation and multiple river surveys. In 2011, a population was discovered which inhabits a 5.6 river mile stretch of the Cahaba River about 10 miles south of Birmingham ...

Federal Court Dismisses Fishing Industry Challenge to Massachusetts Offshore Wind Project

On Thursday, October 12, 2023, Judge Indira Talwani of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment in favor of the United States Department of the Interior and Vineyard Wind, and denied summary judgment to the plaintiffs in two cases challenging federal authorizations for the Vineyard Wind project: Seafreeze Shoreside, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Interior (Seafreeze) and Responsible Offshore Development Alliance v. U.S. Department of Interior (RODA). In both cases, the plaintiffs sought to overturn the federal approvals for the ...

On September 30, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in a case challenging the agency’s final rule downlisting the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) to “threatened species” status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

In its opinion, the court held that the Service adhered to a reasonable interpretation of the ESA and followed proper procedures when deciding to downlist the American burying beetle to threatened status despite noting climate change ...

On October 3, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published two proposed rules to list three species—the northwestern pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata), the southwestern pond turtle (Actinemys pallida), and the short-tailed snake (Lampropeltis extenuata)—as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed listings also include proposed 4(d) rules for each species. However, according to the Federal Register notices, the Service concluded that designating critical habitat for each of the three species is not currently determinable, and ...

On Tuesday, September 26, President Biden vetoed two Republican-sponsored joint resolutions, S.J. Res. 9 and S.J. Res. 24, seeking to undo Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the lesser prairie-chicken (LEPC) (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) and northern long-eared bat (NLEB) (Myotis septentrionalis) that became effective in January 2023.

S.J. Res. 9 would have undone the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) final rule listing the Northern distinct population segment (DPS) of the LEPC as threatened with a section 4(d) rule and the Southern DPS as endangered ...

On August 29, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule listing two distinct population segments (DPS)—the North Feather and Central Coast DPSs—of the foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) (Frog) as threatened (Threatened DPSs) and two additional DPSs of the Frog—the South Sierra and South Coast DPSs—as endangered (Endangered DPSs) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the preamble to the final rule, the Service indicated that designating critical habitat for all four DPSs of the Frog is not determinable at this time due to a lack ...

On August 11, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to delist the Apache trout (Oncorhynchus apache) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to the species’ recovery.  The Apache trout, the state fish of Arizona, is a species of freshwater fish that is found primarily in the mountain region of southeast Arizona.  This species was initially listed as an endangered species under the ESA in 1967.  Then, in 1975, the Service downlisted the species to threatened status.  The ESA defines a threatened species as one that is “likely to become ...

Critical Habitat Proposed for Sacramento Mountains Checkerspot Butterfly

On August 10, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas Anicia cloudcrofti) under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed critical habitat designation encompasses 1,636.9 acres of land in the Sacramento Mountains in Otero County, New Mexico, and follows the Service’s January 2023 final rule listing the species as endangered.

As explained in the proposed rule, the Service considered physical and biological features “essential to the ...

Massachusetts Court Rejects Marine Mammal Protection Act Challenge to Vineyard Wind Project

On Friday, August 4, 2023, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment in favor of the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) in the case of Melone v. Coit et al, 21-cv-11171 (Talwani, J.). The Court found that NMFS complied with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (“MMPA”) in authorizing construction of the Vineyard Wind project despite its impacts on the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), which is protected under the MMPA and the Endangered Species Act. … 

Service Proposes to List Two Mussel Species and Designate Critical Habitat in Texas

On July 25, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to list two mussel species, the Salina mucket (Potamilus metnecktayi) and Mexican fawnsfoot (Truncilla cognata), as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also proposed to designate critical habitat for these species under the ESA. The proposed critical habitat for the Salina mucket would amount to approximately 200 river miles in the Texan counties of Brewester, Terrell, and Val Verde, and the proposed critical habitat for the Mexican fawnsfoot would amount to ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lists Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl as Threatened with a 4(d) Rule

On July 20, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule listing the cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) (“Owl”) as a threatened subspecies with a 4(d) rule under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The 4(d) rule prohibits the same activities prohibited for endangered species, but allows exemptions for certain education and outreach activities permitted under a Migratory Bird Treaty Act permit, surveying and monitoring in Arizona under a state scientific activity permit, and habitat restoration and enhancement ...

California Amends Fully Protected Species Statutes: Streamlining or More Red Tape?

On July 10, 2023, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 147 (SB147) into law, amending California’s “fully protected species” statutes. These laws were enacted in 1970 and currently protect 37 species native to California, ranging from the North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica) to the salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris). The amendments enacted by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor create a temporary, 10-year permitting regime that allows proponents of a limited, defined set of projects to pursue authorization from the ...

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to Release Plans for Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) anticipates releasing the Draft Designation Documents for the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.

A draft proposed rule and management plan for the sanctuary are expected to be released early this summer, concurrently with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed designation required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The draft management plan will describe the non-regulatory programmatic strategies and actions the new sanctuary will undertake for an ...

Services Propose New Regulatory Revisions Under the Endangered Species Act

On June 22, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, the Services), issued three sets of proposed revisions to their Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations addressing: (1) interagency consultations under ESA section 7; (2) the procedures and criteria for listing, reclassifying, delisting, and designating critical habitat for species under ESA section 4; and (3) reinstatement of USFWS’s blanket ESA section 4(d) rule which, prior to its repeal in 2019, extended the take prohibitions of ESA section 9 to all ...

On June 16, 2023, in a highly anticipated decision, the United States Court of Appeal for the D.C. Circuit set aside a biological opinion regarding the effects of the federal lobster fishery on the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The court held that a presumption in favor of an endangered species is not required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and, further, that such a presumption can distort the agency’s scientific judgment and did so in this circumstance.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued the biological opinion in 2021 analyzing the ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Revised Mitigation Policies

On May 15, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued two mitigation policies: one titled “Mitigation Policy” and another titled “Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy.” The Mitigation Policy provides a framework to inform Service mitigation procedure and policy, while the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Compensatory Mitigation Policy provides guidance on implementation of the ESA through compensatory mitigation mechanisms. The Service states that both policies are intended as guidelines for Service personnel to follow when ...

Massachusetts Court Rejects Endangered Species Act Challenge to Offshore Wind Project

On May 17, 2023, the federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment in favor of the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Vineyard Wind and denied summary judgment to the plaintiffs in the case of Nantucket Residents Against Turbines v. U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 21-cv-11390 (Talwani, J.). This is the first federal court decision upholding, on the merits, the federal government’s approval of a commercial-scale offshore wind project. There are three other cases pending that also seek to block the construction ...

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 ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Publishes Updated National Listing Workplan

This month, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published the latest update to its National Listing Workplan (Workplan). This update to the Workplan is the Service’s latest since March 2022 and projects the anticipated timeline for the agency’s listing-related decisions over the next five years (2023-2027). In general, the Workplan estimates the Service’s publication dates for various findings and publications, including but not limited to 12-month findings, species status reviews, proposed listing determinations and critical habitat ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Revised Critical Habitat Designation for Rufa Red Knot

On April 13, 2023, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) published a proposed rule to revise the critical habitat designation for the rufa red knot (Calidris canutus rufa). The red knot is a shorebird that migrates annually between the Canadian Arctic and wintering regions to the south, including the Southeast United States, the Northeast Gulf of Mexico, northern Brazil, and Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. During both northbound (spring) and southbound (fall) migrations, red knots use key staging and stopover areas to rest and feed.  

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 Declines to List Coyote on Basis of Resemblance to Endangered Mexican Wolf

On April 3, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) rejected a petition filed by a group of environmental organizations under section 4(e) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to list the coyote (Canis latrans) as an endangered species due to its similarity of appearance to the endangered Mexican wolf (C. lupus baileyi). Section 4(e) of the ESA gives the Service the ability to list a species on the basis that its “similarity of appearance” to an endangered or threatened species imperils the protected species’ survival and recovery.

In the petition, the environmental ...

Federal Court Allows Center for Biological Diversity to Continue Large ESA Lawsuit Against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling allowing the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to continue pursuing its large Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Department of the Interior.

The underlying lawsuit, filed in 2019, alleges that the Service violated the ESA by failing to timely publish 12-month findings on nearly 200 listing petitions, final listing determinations for six species, and designations of critical habitat for four species.  In response, the Service filed a ...

California Court Refuses to Dismiss ESA Challenge to Corps’ Operation of Coyote Valley Dam on Russian River

Recently, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a concerned citizen against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) alleging Endangered Species Act (ESA) violations in connection with the Corps’ operation of the Coyote Valley Dam on the Russian River in Northern California. The court opined that federal defendants cannot avoid having to defend their prior actions simply by initiating the consultation process under section 7(a)(2) of the ESA, and the equities ...

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Again Finds Listing of Joshua Trees Not Warranted

On March 9, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued its 12-month finding that listing Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia and Y. jaegeriana) as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not warranted. The 12-month finding was made to comply with a September 20, 2021 court-ordered remand of the Service’s previous “not warranted” finding in August 2019.

In September 2015, WildEarth Guardians submitted a petition to list the Joshua trees as threatened and, if applicable, designate critical habitat for the species. The Service issued ...

Species Status Assessments under the Endangered Species Act

On February 28, 2023, I published a post on the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management’s DeltaCurrents blog discussing Species Status Assessments (SSAs) as a tool to facilitate implementation of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) describes the SSA framework as “an analytical approach developed . . . to deliver foundational science for informing all [ESA] decisions.” The Service has explained it intends SSAs to provide “focused, repeatable, and rigorous scientific assessment” that results in ...

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 ...

ESA Preempts Oregon Water Rule in U.S. District Court Decision

On February 6, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California sided with the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and plaintiffs Institute for Fisheries Resources, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and the Yurok Tribe, in holding that an order governing Reclamation’s operation of Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) from the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) is preempted by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The order, issued in the midst of a recent drought to meet the needs of irrigators, mandated Reclamation to “immediately preclude or ...

Service Proposes to Overhaul ESA Permitting Regulations

On February 9, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published proposed revisions to its regulations governing incidental take and enhancement of survival permitting under Endangered Species Act (ESA) section 10.

If finalized, the regulations would do away with the distinction between candidate conservation agreements with assurances and safe harbor agreements, clarify that incidental take permits no longer need to have a federally listed species as the “lead” species, codify aspects of the agency’s five-point policy that provide detail on the necessary ...

2023 Inflation Adjustments to Civil Penalties for Violations of Wildlife Protection Laws Announced

This January, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce announced updated civil monetary penalties for violations of federal wildlife and natural resource protection laws including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens), Lacey Act, National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA), and others.

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 requires federal agencies to adjust ...

Ninth Circuit Holds Agency’s Decision Not to Modify a Recovery Plan is Not a Final Agency Action

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling holding that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) decision not to modify a recovery plan for the grizzly bear (ursus arctos horrbilis) was not a final agency action subject to review under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

In 1975, the Service listed the grizzly bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  At the time of listing, the grizzly bear’s population in the contiguous United States fell to between 700-800 individuals.  Pursuant to its ...

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 ...

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

RSS RSS Feed

Categories

Archives

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.