Successful Court Challenge Results in Second Denial for Coastal Cutthroat Trout

In a notice (PDF) published February 25, 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service withdrew its proposal to list the Southwestern Washington/Columbia River Distinct Population Segment ("DPS") of coastal cutthroat trout for the second time.

The Service was required to revisit the issue after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision (PDF) ordering the Service to reconsider whether the DPS of the coastal cutthroat trout warranted listing.  After considering the issue for a second time, however, the Service again determined that the listing of the DPS of the coastal cutthroat trout was not warranted. 

The Service first published a notice of withdrawal (PDF) of proposed listing for the DPS of the coastal cutthroat trout in 2002.  However, after a group of environmental organizations challenged the Service's determination in federal court, the Ninth Circuit found that the Service failed to properly consider whether the estuary and other marine areas constitute a significant portion of the range of the DPS, and therefore ordered the Service to reconsider the withdrawal determination. 

In the notice published late last week, the Service again withdrew the proposed rule to list the DPS of the coastal cutthroat trout, stating:

the threats to coastal cutthroat trout in the marine and estuarine areas of its range within the DPS, as analyzed under the five listing factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act, are not likely to endanger the species now or in the foreseeable future throughout this portion of its range. 

It is unclear whether this decision will once more be the subject of litigation.

  • Benjamin Z. Rubin
    Partner

    Ben Rubin assists developers, public agencies, landowners and corporate clients on a variety of complex land use and environmental matters. He counsels clients on matters dealing with the Federal and State Endangered Species Act ...

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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