Posts tagged Critical Habitat.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) and a group of landowners recently settled long-running litigation regarding the Service’s designation of approximately 1,500 acres of private land as critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa).  The Service designated the private land in Louisiana as critical habitat in 2012.  Weyerhaeuser Co. and local landowners sued the Service, arguing that designation of the private land where the frog could not currently survive was overreach ...

Over the last few weeks, besides proposing to remove the gray wolf (Canis lupus) from the List of Endangered and Threatened Species (which we covered here), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has made a few other moves related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

On Monday, April 8, 2019, the Service published a final rule, removing one species from the List of Endangered and Threatened Species, adding 16 separate species to the list, and updating the existing entries for 17 more species.  Specifically, the Service added the following species to the ESA List: Gulf grouper ...

On November 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an area is eligible to be designated as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) only if the area is habitat for the relevant threatened or endangered species.  Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dkt. No. 17-71.  The Court vacated the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision, which held that the ESA has no habitability requirement, and remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit to consider the meaning of habitat under the ESA.  Additionally, the Court held that a decision by the U.S. Fish and ...

On November 21, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule listing the candy darter (Estheostoma osburni) as endangered and proposing critical habitat for the species.  The candy darter is a small, freshwater fish species native to Virginia and West Virginia.  The Service’s announcement finalizes its proposed rule to list the candy darter, which was published on October 4, 2017, with one significant difference – the Service originally proposed to list the candy darter as threatened, but the final rule lists the candy darter as endangered.

The candy ...

On January 22, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of the petition for writ of certiorari in Weyerhauser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, No. 17-71.  Petitioners challenge a 2-1 panel decision issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, affirming a rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) designating critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa) and including areas within critical habitat that the frog could not currently inhabit.

The dusky gopher frog spends most of its life underground in open-canopied pine forests.  ...

In the Fall 2017 publication of the Unified Agenda of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the Department of the Interior announced its intent to revise the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regulations governing interagency cooperation and exceptions to the conservation of endangered and threatened species of fish, wildlife, and plants. In a separate announcement in the same publication, the Department of the Interior stated that it intends to revise regulations governing the listing of endangered and threatened species and the designation of critical ...

Earlier this week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) issued a notice in the Federal Register that it was reopening the comment period on five proposed rules for four plant species.  Specifically, the proposed rules include the following: (1) listing Guadalupe fescue (Festuca ligulata) as an endangered species; (2) designating Guadalupe fescue critical habitat; (3) reclassifying Tobusch fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus brevihamatus ssp. tobuschii) from endangered to threatened; (4) reclassifying Kuenzler hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus fendleri var.

On October 5, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) listed a beetle species as endangered, a fish species as threatened, and designated critical habitat for the fish species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Service listed the Miami tiger beetle (Cicindelidia floridana), which occurs in Miami-Dade County, Florida, as endangered under the ESA.  According to the Service, the decline in the species is due to the impact of habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, the inadequacy of existing regulatory protections, and the beetle’s relatively ...

In a 2-1 decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected challenges to the final rule designating critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act.  Markle Interests, L.L.C. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, No. 14-31008 (5th Cir. June 30, 2016).  The decision is remarkable because it upholds the determination by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to designate areas as critical habitat that are not currently habitable by the frog and have not been shown likely to be ...

On March 30, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") issued a final rule designating critical habitat for 125 species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") on the Hawaiian islands of Molokai, Maui, and Kahoolawe.  The rule designated critical habitat for 50 plant and animal species, and revised critical habitat for 85 plant species, totaling approximately 157,002 acres of critical habitat on Molokai, Maui, and Kahoolawe.  An additional 25,413 acres of critical habitat that had been proposed on Lanai, along with 59,479 acres on Maui ...

On January 27, 2016, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a final rule designating approximately 29,763 nautical square miles of marine habitat for the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The critical habitat is comprised of two areas, with the first region in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank and the second region off the southeastern United States, extending from Cape Fear, North Carolina to Cape Canaveral, Florida. The final rule replaces prior critical habitat designations issued on June 3, 1994 and July 6, 2006. According to NMFS, the areas ...

During the last week of its fiscal year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) made several findings under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to meet its obligations under the 2011 listing settlement workplan.  Below is a brief summary of these findings.

On September 29, 2015, the Service published a proposed rule to list four plant species from South Florida (specifically Miami-Dade and Monroe counties).  These include the Big Pine partridge pea (Chamaecrista lineata var. keyensis), the wedge spurge (Chamaesyce deltoidea ssp. Serpyllum) the sand flax (Linum ...

On September 14, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California granted the state and federal defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability (CESAR) v. Cowin, No. 1:15-cv-00884 (pdf). Plaintiff CESAR claimed that the construction and operation of an emergency drought salinity barrier (Project) in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta—which is designated as critical habitat for the threatened delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus)—violates the section 9 ...

On August 25, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule relating to the existing critical habitat for the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus).  The murrelet is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The proposed rule does not purport to change the Service’s previous designation of critical habitat for the murrelet in 1996, as amended in 2011.  61 Fed. Reg. 26,256; 76 Fed. Reg. 61,599.

The Service is reconsidering its prior critical habitat determination pursuant to the U.S. District Court for the District ...

In a decision that casts a shadow on the enforceability of contractual assurances in habitat conservation plan (HCP) agreements, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected various Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) challenges to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) designation of critical habitat for a native fish species (the Santa Ana Sucker) on the Santa Ana River in Southern California. Bear Valley Municipal Water Company v. Jewell, No. 12-57297 (9th Cir. June 25, 2015).

This is the first case to address the ...

On June 17, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the U.S. Forest Service (Service) violated section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to reinitiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding the impacts of a revised critical habitat designation on the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis).  Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service, No. 13-35624 (9th Cir. Jun. 17, 2015) (pdf).  The Canada lynx was listed as threatened in 2000, and a limited amount of critical habitat was designated for the species in 2006 ...

In a decision issued earlier this week, a U.S. District Court rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (Service) interpretation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), finding that its interpretation of the critical habitat designation requirement constituted an impermissible construction of the statute.  Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Kelly, Case No. 1:13-cv-00427 (D. Idaho Mar. 23, 2015) (pdf).  Specifically, the court found that, contrary to the Service's longstanding interpretation, the ESA requires critical habitat to be designated in a manner ...

On February 2, 2015 the National Marine Fisheries Service (Service) announced its plan to extend the period for public comments on its December 3, 2014 proposed designation of critical habitat for the threatened Arctic Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida hispida), reported on this blog.  (80 FR 5498 [pdf].)  The Service’s proposed rule would designate millions of acres in the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi seas as critical habitat for the threatened Arctic Ringed Seal.  The public comment period will now remain open until March 31, 2015.  Additionally, the Service announced that a fifth ...

On December 9, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Secretary of Commerce published a revised proposed rule designating critical habitat for the Arctic Ringed Seal.  The previous proposed rule was published here (and reported on this blog here) on December 3rd.  Citing a clerical error, NMFS withdrew the December 3rd rule, claiming it "contained numerous errors."  The rule published today is intended to replace the prior critical habitat designation, and the comment period will reopen effective today and will remain open until March 9, 2015 ...

As we reported in November, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) has been planning to hold a public hearing on the proposal to designate 546,335 acres of critical habitat for the western population of yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) across nine western states.  The Service recently announced that the public hearing will take place on December 18, 2014, in Sacramento, California.  The deadline to submit comments is January 15, 2015, and comments may be provided in writing or verbally at the public hearing.

The proposed critical habitat for the western population of ...

On December 3, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published its proposed rule designating critical habitat for the threatened Arctic Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida hispida).  (79 Fed. Reg. 71,714).  The proposed designation, if finalized, would mark one of the largest critical habitat designations in the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi seas, consisting of millions of acres.  The seal, which was designated as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in December 2012, is the smallest of the northern seals with an average lifespan of 15 to 28 years. (77 ...

On November 12, 2014, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) listed as threatened and designated over 1.4 million acres of critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus), the smaller cousin of the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus).  The Gunnison sage-grouse’s (Gunnison) current range is limited to southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah.

The regulations came as a blow to the State of Colorado, landowners, and others who have devoted considerable resources to the conservation of the Gunnison Basin population’s sagebrush ...

On Wednesday, two final rules were released designating critical habitat for the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), a species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Together, the rules represent one of the largest areas of critical habitat ever designated under the ESA. The first rule, promulgated by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), designates over 300,000 square miles of habitat in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. The second rule, promulgated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), designates 685 miles of land along the coasts of the ...

On May 12, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed two important new rules (50 CFR Part 402 and 50 CFR Part 424) implementing the critical habitat provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The proposed rules expand the regulatory definition of critical habitat and adverse modification – key ESA terms governing federal agency actions on tens of millions of acres of public and private land throughout the nation.  The federal wildlife agencies also proposed a new policy governing the exclusion of areas from critical habitat ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently released (pdf) its draft economic analysis (DEA) for its proposal to designate critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae), the northern distinct population segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa), and the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus). The proposed critical habitat designation encompasses approximately 1,831,820 acres of habitat in California.

The purpose of the DEA is to identify and analyze the potential economic impacts associated with the proposed critical ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently affirmed (pdf) its decision to list the White Bluffs bladderpod (Physaria douglasii subsp. tuplashensis) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service also revised its designation of critical habitat for the plant species to exclude certain private and state lands in Franklin County, Washington.

The Service previously published a final rule to list the species (pdf) and designate critical habitat (pdf) on April 23, 2013.  However, the Service delayed the effective date of these rules in order to accept ...

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a 90-day finding (pdf) on two petitions to list the pinto abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and designating critical habitat for the species. According to NMFS, there is substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the species under the ESA may be warranted.

The pinto abalone is a marine gastropod mollusk found in the Pacific Ocean. Its range extends from Sitka Island, Alaska, to Baja California, Mexico, though it is mostly found ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced (pdf) the reopening of the public comment periods for its January 11, 2013 proposed rules to list the Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to designate approximately 1.7 million acres of critical habitat for the species in Colorado and Utah. The Service also announced that it was rescheduling two public information sessions and public hearings for the proposed rules, as well as adding a third public informational session and public hearing. These ...

On October 28, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the California and Nevada populations of the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According to the Service, this bi-state population is genetically distinct and geographically isolated from other greater sage grouse populations, and warrants protection under the ESA.

Primary threats to the species include degradation of habitat by livestock grazing and invasive plant species, fragmentation of habitat ...

On October 3, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the Florida Brickell-bush (Brickellia mosieri) and Carter’s Small-flowered Flax (Linum carteri var carteri) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

According to the Service, the flower species’ habitat in the pine rockland community of Miami-Dade County has been drastically reduced due to residential and commercial development and agriculture. Moreover, there is a potential for high levels of nutrients from agricultural and urban areas to seep into the ...

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently listed (pdf) the Jemez Mountains salamander (Piethodon neomexicanus) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also recently published (pdf) a final rule listing the Texas golden gladecress (Leavenworthia texana) as endangered and the Neches River rose-mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx) as threatened under the ESA.

The Jemez Mountains salamander is found only in the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico, in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, and Sandoval Counties. The salamander is generally found around the rim of ...

On August 19, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced (pdf) its decision to list the Austin blind salamander (Eurycea waterlooensis) as endangered and the Jollyville Plateau salamander (Eurycea tonkawae) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While the Service’s proposed listing of the two species designated both as endangered, the Service’s final rule (pdf) lists the Jollyville Plateau salamander as threatened based on new information received since publication of the listing proposal.

In conjunction with listing the two species ...

Yesterday, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a notice of proposed rule to designate approximately 1,184 square miles of marine habitat in the Puget Sound as critical habitat for the threatened distinct population segment of yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberriums), the threatened distinct population segment of canary rockfish (Sebastes pinniger), and the endangered distinct population segment of bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinus).  The notice states that comments on the proposed rule are due on November 4, 2013, and requests for public hearing must be made in ...

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently issued a proposed rule (pdf) designating critical habitat for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean loggerhead sea turtle Distinct Population Segment (DPS) (Caretta caretta) within the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The 36 marine areas proposed for designation as critical habitat contain one or a combination of nearshore reproductive habitat, winter habitat, breeding areas, and migratory corridors.

The loggerhead sea turtle was listed worldwide as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on July 28 ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) designated 2,485 acres in Kern County and Kings County in California as critical habitat for the Buena Vista Lake shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus).  The Buena Vista Lake shrew is a small, insect-eating mammal native to the southern San Joaquin Valley.

In 2005, the Service issued a final rule designating just 84 acres as critical habitat.  That rule was challenged, and the Service settled the lawsuit and initiated a new rulemaking.  Pursuant to that rulemaking process, in 2012 the Service issued a proposed rule designating 5,182 acres as ...

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the Kentucky glade cress (Leavenworthia exigua var. laciniata) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service also proposed (pdf) designating critical habitat for the species.

The Service previously identified the Kentucky glade cress as a candidate species on November 9, 2009. However, it was designated as a Listing Priority Number (LPN) 3. LPNs are assigned based on the immediacy of the threat to the species, as well as taxonomic status. As an LPN 3, Kentucky glade ...

On May 10th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced that it had approved the Tehachapi Uplands Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan), which will provide protections for 25 species of plants and animals, while permitting limited development and other land use activities on designated areas within Tejon Ranch. Founded in 1843, Tejon Ranch is the largest contiguous expanse of private land in California. 

Many years in the making, the Plan will protect wildlife habitat and enhance species conservation on over 140,000 acres. The Plan provides ...

On April 25, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to list the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae) as endangered, the northern distinct population segment (DPS) of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) as endangered, and the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

According to the Service, populations of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and the northern DPS of the mountain yellow-legged frog are declining due to habitat degradation and fragmentation ...

On March 25, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule (pdf) to designate critical habitat for the Northwest Atlantic Ocean Distinct Population Segment of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The proposed critical habitat includes almost 740 miles of coastline in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Photo by Strobilomyces at Océanopolis, Brest, France on 17th April 2006.

The loggerhead sea turtle includes nine distinct population segments (DPS ...

On March 13, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) extended (pdf) the public comment period for two proposed rules relating to the Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus).  As we previously reported, the Service published a proposed rule to list the species as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in January.  In conjunction with that proposed rule, the Service also proposed to designate approximately 1.7 million acres of critical habitat for the species in Colorado and Utah.  The 60-day public comment period for these two proposed rules was ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated (pdf) approximately 9,600 acres as critical habitat for the endangered Coachella Valley milk vetch (Astragalus lentifinosus var. coachellae). The critical habitat designation covers four areas within the greater Coachella Valley area near Palm Springs, California.

As a result of the designation, federal agencies must consult with FWS under the Endangered Species Act regarding the impacts of federal actions on the plant species within the designated area. The ruling does not directly affect private land ownership ...

On January 2, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule increasing the critical habitat designated for the southwestern willow flycatcher (pdf) (Empidonax traillii extimus).  The flycatcher is a small migratory bird (approximately 6 inches long) that nests in dense riparian habitats along streams, lakesides, and other wetlands.  The Service listed the flycatcher as endangered in 1995, and in 1997 issued an initial critical habitat designation.  Shortly thereafter, however, the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association filed a lawsuit ...

 
On November 5, 2012, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) encouraging the Service to consider an innovative approach to support conservation of the lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus): through the use of habitat credit exchanges between companies and landowners.  The letter comes at a time when the Service is considering whether to propose to list the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Currently the Service has determined that listing of the species "is warranted ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced  (pdf) that it finalized its designation of critical habitat for the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) in the Pacific Northwest.  The final rule designated 9.29 million acres of federal land and 291,750 acres of state land as critical habitat for the species.  The final rule reduced the amount of habitat by approximately 4.3 million acres from a February 2012 proposal.  The Service asserts that this designation comported with a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of the Interior to give ...

On Tuesday October 24, 2012, several conservation groups wrote a letter to President Obama expressing concerns about an agreement that the Obama Administration entered into with the American Forest Resource Council, Carpenter Industrial Council, and Douglas County, Oregon (Plaintiffs), to remove critical habitat for the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), a seabird listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The agreement still needs approval by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Plaintiffs sued the U.S. Fish and ...

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced a proposal to protect 40 different species native to Hawaii under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Federal Register notice of the announcement can be found here (pdf).  The proposal encompasses 37 plant species, including herbs, shrubs, trees, and ferns, and three species of tree snails.  The species are native to the Hawaiian Islands of Moloka'i, Lana'i, Kaho'olawe, and Maui.  They are found in 11 different ecosystem types.

The Service's announcement also included critical habitat designation for 39 of the ...

On June 19, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its final action designating 24,527 acres as critical habitat for the Pacific coast population of western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus).  The designated critical habitat spans coastal areas in Washington, Oregon, and California to the Mexican border, typically characterized by sparsely vegetated, sandy beaches.  The Service identified several activities that may require special management within critical habitat areas, including, water diversions, resource extraction, and dune ...

On April 17, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule that would revise the critical habitat for two endangered plant species located in Riverside County, California: the Munz's onion (Allium munzii) and the San Jacinto Valley crownscale (Atriplex coronata var. natatior).  Under the proposed rule, the Service would designate an additional 8,909 acres of critical habitat for the two species.  Approximately 889 additional acres would be designated for the Munz's onion, and 8,020 acres would be designated for the San Jacinto Valley crownscale.  

On March 8, 2012, the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior announced a new program for conserving wildlife habitat on private lands.  Under the new program, Federal, state, and local wildlife experts will jointly identify at-risk species that would benefit from habitat restoration on private lands and, using the best available science, prioritize restoration actions on a regional scale.  These efforts will initially be limited to seven species: the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis), bog turtle ...

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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