Posts in Critical Habitat.

On November 16, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling (PDF) affirming a lower court’s decision (PDF) that two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) biological opinions (BiOp) for a proposed 1500-acre mining project in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness on the Kootenai National Forest met the legal standards set forth in the Endangered Species Act and Administrative Procedure Act. The Court upheld the BiOp’s conclusions that construction and operation of the mine would not adversely modify bull trout critical habitat or ...

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently reopened  the public comment period for its proposal to designate additional critical habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi).  As we previously reported, on June 2, 2011, NMFS proposed revising the critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by extending the current designation in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands out to the 500-meter depth contour, including Sand Island at Midway Islands; and by designating six new areas in ...

In response to a letter from two local congressmen (PDF), Republicans from the Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee have scheduled an oversight hearing to examine the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s recent designation of critical habitat for the Santa Ana sucker (Catostomus santaanae).  As reported on this blog, the Service published a final rule (Dec. 14, 2010) designating critical habitat for the Santa Ana sucker, a small fish species occurring in southern California.  The Final Rule designates nearly 10,000 acres in the Santa Ana and San Gabriel rivers and Big Tujunga ...

On August 30, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced that it will designate under section 4 of the federal Endangered Species Act approximately 47,383 acres of critical habitat for the Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment of the California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense).  The Service had previously re-opened the comment period on its proposed critical habitat designation on June 21, 2011, in order to allow interested parties to comment on the proposed addition of 4,945 acres of critical habitat for the Santa Rosa Plain Unit.  ...

The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced a proposed rule (pdf) this week to revise critical habitat for the federally endangered Coachella Valley milk-vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae).  The proposed rule would designate approximately 25,704 acres of land in Riverside County, California as critical habitat for the plant, which is endemic to the Coachella Valley. The four geographic units proposed as critical habitat include sand transport and deposition areas associated with: San Gorgonio River and Snow Creek, Whitewater River, Mission ...

On July 22, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) erred when it designated 143 acres of private property as critical habitat for the endangered San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis) based on a single observation of the shrimp on the property in 2001.

The question presented in Otay Mesa Property L.P. v. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, No. 10-5204, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 14998 (D.C. Cir. July 22, 2011) was quite narrow: whether a single confirmed sighting of the endangered fairy shrimp in a ...

In a settlement agreement (pdf) filed in federal court on July 5, 2011, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) agreed to issue a final rule by November 15, 2011, likely revising the critical habitat for the endangered leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) to include waters off the U.S. West coast. 

NMFS initially designated critical habitat for the leatherback in 1979, issuing a final rule (pdf) designating critical habitat only in waters adjacent to Sandy Point Beach, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.  In 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity

The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced (pdf) that it has re-opened the comment period on its August 18, 2009 proposed designation of critical habitat for the Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment of the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) under the Endangered Species Act.  The Service is reopening the comment period to allow interested parties an opportunity to comment on the proposed addition of 4,945 acres of critical habitat for the Santa Rosa Plain Unit as described in the January 18, 2011 notice (pdf).  In total, the Service is proposing to ...

On June 7, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule under section 4 of the federal Endangered Species Act revising the critical habitat designated for the Pecos assiminea (Assiminea pecos), and designating critical habitat for the Roswell springsnail (Pyrgulopsis roswellensis), Koster's springsnail (Juturnia kosteri), and Noel's amphipod (Gammarus desperatus).  The designated critical habitat for the four endangered species, which occur primarily in sinkholes, springs, and associated spring runs and wetland habitats, is ...

The National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed (pdf) revising the current critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by extending the current designation in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands out to the 500-meter depth contour, including Sand Island at Midway Islands; and by designating six new areas in the main Hawaiian Islands, including Kaula Island, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui nui, and Hawaii.  One article reporting on the proposal states that "[t]he Hawaiian monk seal is facing some ...

On June 1, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided notice of a proposed revision to the Riverside fairy shrimp's designated critical habitat that would add approximately  2,678 acres, raising the total designated critical habitat to approximately 2,984 acres.  The additional lands proposed to be designated are located in Ventura, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties in California.

The proposed revision is to a 2005 final critical habitat designation that identified 306 acres.  The notice recently issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ...

This week the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) designated (PDF) 3,013 square miles (nearly 2 million acres) of marine habitat in Alaska as critical habitat for the Cook Inlet beluga whale. NMFS listed the species as endangered (PDF) in 2008 under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Critical habitat was subsequently proposed (PDF) in 2009. The final rule includes several small changes to the areas proposed as critical habitat—most importantly, it excludes the Port of Anchorage for reasons relating to national security as well as portions of military lands.

The ...

The Fish and Wildlife Service, proposed (PDF) today to designate critical habitat for the Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  In addition, because of a taxonomic revision of the Chiricahua leopard frog, the Service is reassessing the status of and threats to the species.

The Service proposed designation of approximately 11,136 acres as critical habitat (PDF) for the species.  The proposed critical habitat is located in Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Santa Cruz, and Yavapai Counties, Arizona; and Catron ...

As explained in a previous posting, in November 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 187,157 square miles of land in, and sea ice adjacent to, Alaska as critical habitat for polar bear.

Shortly after the final rule was published in the Federal Register, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association (AOGA) sent a sixty-day notice of intent to sue (PDF) the Service, alleging that the designation violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Making good on its notice, on March 1, 2011, AOGA filed a complaint (PDF) in federal court seeking to invalidate the designation, which the trade ...

On February 7, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a press release announcing a new final rule designating critical habitat for the arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus).  The rule (pdf) designates about 98,366 acres of land as critical habitat ranging from portions of Santa Barbara County in the north to San Diego County in the south.  By comparison, the prior final rule, available here (pdf), designated about 11,695 acres of land as critical habitat.  The Service excluded approximately 11,697 acres of land subject to final habitat conservation plans, tribal lands ...

The Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced this week that it has opened a 30-day comment period on revisions to the proposed critical habitat designation for the Sonoma County Distinct Population Segment of the California tiger salamander, and the associated draft economic analysis of the revised proposal. The Service previously revised the proposed critical habitat designation in August 2009 -- after originally proposing the designation in August 2005 -- based on a settlement agreement on the August 2005 proposal. In this week’s notice of availability (PDF ...

On January 8, 2011, a federal district court overruled (pdf) a 2008 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to reduce the acreage of critical habitat designated for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat from 33,290 acres to 7,779 acres. The Service had initially designated the 33,290 acres in 2002, but decreased the amount (pdf) in 2008 after a lawsuit successfully challenged the designation. The district court’s ruling reinstates the area designated as critical habitat in the 2002 rule (pdf) in San Bernardino and Riverside counties until a revised designation is ...

On December 14, 2010, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service published its final rule (PDF) redesignating critical habitat for the Santa Ana sucker, a small fish species occurring in watershed draining the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains of southern California.  The Final Rule designates a total of 9,931 acres across San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, and Orange counties and is comprised of 7,097 acres in the Santa Ana River, 1,000 acres in the San Gabriel River, and 1,233 acres in Big Tujunga Creek.  The Final Rule increased the sucker’s net critical habitat by ...

On November 24, 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a final rule (PDF) designating 187,157 square miles of on- and off-shore habitat in northern Alaska as critical habitat for two populations of polar bear listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. 

The Service originally proposed to designate 200,541 square miles of critical habitat.  However, the final designation removed land that turned out to lie beyond the U.S. territorial waters, five U.S. Air Force (USAF) radar sites, the Native communities of Barrow and Kaktovik, and all existing man-made ...

On November 30, 2010, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") designated approximately 783 acres of land in Riverside and San Diego Counties, California, as critical habitat for the plant San Diego ambrosia (Ambrosia pumila).  This is approximately 329 acres less than the Service had previously proposed.  The Service's designation excluded approximately 118 acres of critical habitat that fell within the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.  In its final economic analysis, the ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced this week the final rule for the revised 2005 critical habitat designation for the bull trout, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The 2005 critical habitat designation had been struck down by a federal court last year after an inspector general’s report found improper political influence during the rulemaking process.

The final rule, which will become effective November 17, 2010, identifies 32 critical habitat units on 3,500 water body segments across five states.  Approximately 18,975 miles of ...

The Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final rule (pdf) designating critical habitat for spreading navarretia (Navarretia fossalis), a plant species native to southern California.  The rule designates approximately 6,720 acres of land as critical habitat for the species in five southern California counties: Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura.  In a previous rule issued in 2005, the Service had designated approximately 652 acres as critical habitat for the species.  The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the Service in the United ...

We previously announced the Ninth Circuit's decision in Home Builders Association of Northern California v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service upholding the designation of 858,000 acres of land in California as critical habitat for fifteen vernal pool species under the Endangered Species Act.  For more information regarding this decision, see this article published in the Courthouse News Service earlier this week.

For the second time in two months, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected an industry challenge to a designation of critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  In Home Builders Association of Northern California v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service (PDF), the court upheld the designation of 858,000 acres of land in California as critical habitat for fifteen vernal pool species.

The ESA prohibits federal agencies from approving actions that adversely modify critical habitat.  The court rejected Home Builders’ claim that the ESA ...

In Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association v. Salazar (PDF), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) determination that under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), critical habitat for the threatened Mexican spotted owl is not limited to areas where the owl actually resides, but can encompass areas that the owl uses with sufficient regularity that it is likely to be present during a reasonable span of time.  That standard means the thousands of miles of migratory bird flyways used by ESA-listed birds could become protected critical habitat. The decision also held that when implementing the ESA’s requirement to decide whether the costs of designating an area as critical habitat outweigh the benefits, the Service need not include costs caused by the critical habitat designation if such costs can also be attributed to listing the species.

Arizona Cattle Growers’ made two arguments on appeal: (1) that the Service impermissibly treated areas in which no owls are found as occupied" under the ESA, and (2) in the Service’s determination of the economic impacts of the critical habitat designation, the Service used a baseline approach that did not account for economic impacts of the critical habitat designation that are also attributable to the listing decision.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the Fish and Wildlife Service's ("Service') no "adverse modification" determination despite the fact that the proposed project would destroy some critical habitat.

In Butte Environmental Council v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (PDF), environmental plaintiffs challenged the Service's biological opinion finding that a proposed business park to be located along Stillwater Creek in Redding, California would not adversely modify the critical habitat of the threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp, endangered vernal pool tadpole ...

On May 27, 2010, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision rejecting a challenge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's critical habitat determination for the endangered San Diego fairy shrimp, concluding that the Service's determination was entitled to deference. 

Under the terms of the Endangered Species Act, the Service is required to designate, to the maximum extent practicable, critical habitat for an endangered or threatened species concurrently with a final listing rule.  Critical habitat is defined, in part, as ...

For the third time in nine years, the Fish and Wildlife Service has revised the designation of critical habitat for the California red-legged frog. The new designation includes 1.6 million acres in 20 counties in California. 75 Fed. Reg. 12,816 (Mar. 17, 2010) (PDF). The revised designation increases the amount of critical habitat by over one million acres from the 2006 critical habitat designation (PDF). The revised designation represents a decrease of approximately 2.4 million acres from the 2001 designation (PDF). The Service revised the prior designations in response to ...

As reported in The Daily News Online, the Fish and Wildlife Service will be holding a public meeting on Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, Washington to inform the public and address questions on its proposal to expand critical habitat (PDF) for the threatened bull trout.  For more information on the proposed expansion, see the previous post Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Revision of Critical Habitat for Bull Trout. 

On February 11, 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service reported that it will not be designating critical habitat for the Florida panther. This announcement comes in response to petitions submitted to the Service by several environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity requesting designation of 3 million acres of land in south Florida as critical panther habitat.

The Service determined that critical habitat designation is not in the best interest of the Florida panther at this time but retained discretion to designate habitat at a later time ...

On January 13, 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to revise its 2005 designation of critical habitat for the bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), a species that has been protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since it was listed as threatened in 1999.

The proposed rule (PDF) represents a dramatic increase in critical habitat from that currently designated under the 2005 rule.  The rule as revised includes approximately 22,679 miles of streams and 533,426 acres of lakes and reservoirs in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Nevada, which is a 79% increase in ...

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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