Critical Habitat

News & Analysis as of

NMFS Designates Additional Critical Habitat for North Atlantic Right Whales

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...more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Delists Modoc Sucker

On December 8, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule removing the Modoc sucker (Catostomus microps) from the list of threatened and endangered species. The Modoc sucker, a small fish native...more

Ninth Circuit Upholds Denial of Motion to Enjoin Klamath Mountains Fire Recovery Project

On December 3, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon’s denial of a preliminary injunction sought by environmental plaintiffs to enjoin the Douglas...more

Court Rejects Some, But Not All Challenges to Critical Habitat Designation of Private Land

In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule designating 1,724 acres as critical habitat for the endangered Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus woottoni).  Included in that designation were...more

United States Geological Survey and Other Agencies Announce Sagebrush Restoration Handbook Series

On the heels of the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) decision not to list the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) under the Endangered Species Act and the concurrent Bureau of Land Management (BLM)...more

Texas Supreme Court to Decide Whether Groundwater Estate Should Be Granted Accommodation Status Similar to Mineral Estate

On October 14, 2015, the Texas Supreme Court heard argument in a case styled Coyote Lake Ranch, LLC v. The City of Lubbock, which dealt with the question of whether the accommodation doctrine should apply when a groundwater...more

Bureau of Land Management and California Department of Fish and Wildlife Sign Conservation Agreement

On October 16, 2015, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the signing of a conservation agreement intended to provide greater protections and more flexibility...more

Sonoran Desert Tortoise Not Endangered or Threatened Says FWS

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service determined on October 5, 2015 that the Sonoran Desert Tortoise, found primarily in Arizona, does not qualify as either an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered...more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Proposed Listings and Designates Critical Habitat Pursuant to 2011 Listing Settlement...

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...more

Are You Sure This Isn’t About Copyright? Chicken Sandwiches, Monkey Selfies and the Boundaries of Copyright Law

Last week, a wild crested macaque named Naruto (but really People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against photographer David John Slater in the Northern District of California. The...more

BB&K Files Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court in Threatened Santa Ana Sucker Case

A team of BB&K attorneys, working pro bono, garnered headlines this week for case of first impression. Best Best & Krieger LLP filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of two cities and 10 water agencies,...more

Greater Sage-Grouse Avoids ESA Listing

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) announced on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, that it would not list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). This decision represents a change of direction...more

Greater Sage-Grouse Avoids Listing through “Unprecedented” Collaborative Conservation Efforts

On September 22, 2015, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Department of the...more

Sage-Grouse Not Listed Under Esa In Wake Of New State-Led Conservation Efforts

Federal officials deem that state-led efforts are sufficient to protect the bird’s habitat for the near future. On September 22, the administration of US President Barack Obama announced that, given the “unprecedented”...more

Birds of a Feather? Greater Sage-Grouse Decision Shows That Conservation and Energy Development Can Flock Together

On September 22, energy developers in the West breathed a sigh of relief when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that the greater sage-grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)....more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues 90-Day Findings on Petitions to List 25 Plant and Animal Species

On September 18, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued 90-day findings on 25 petitions to list various plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Of the 25 petitions, the Service concluded...more

Citgo Prevails Over EPA at the Fifth Circuit

USA v. Citgo Petroleum highlights the excruciating degree of detail in federal regulations and the gymnastics the EPA will employ justify a prosecution. The Fifth Circuit has reversed Citgo Petroleum’s conviction for...more

Challenge to Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier Thrown Out Due to Lack of Proper Notice

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,...more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finds Listing of New England Cottontail Not Warranted Due to Species Recovery From Conservation...

On September 15, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published (pdf) its 12-month finding on a petition to list the New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) as an endangered or threatened species...more

Court Vacates Final Rule Listing Lesser Prairie Chicken

On September 1, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Midland Division vacated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (“Service”) Final Rule listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken (“LPC”) as threatened. The...more

D.C. Court Largely Upholds Loggerhead Sea Turtle Biological Opinion

On August 31, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia largely upheld the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (Service) Biological Opinion (BiOp) addressing the impacts of seven fisheries on the Northwest...more

Greater sage-grouse and land use in the inter-mountain west

The greater sage-grouse—a ground-dwelling, chicken-like bird—has been the focus of controversy pitting conservation against energy development and ranching interests across the inter-mountain west. The greater sage-grouse’s...more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Proposed Rule Regarding Critical Habitat Determination for the Marbled Murrelet

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...more

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Survey Habitat Conservation Banks

On July 24, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a notice seeking authorization from the Office of Management and Budget to evaluate habitat conservation banks established under the Endangered Species...more

Ninth Circuit Holds Critical Habitat Designations Not Subject to Cost-Benefit Analysis

In Building Industry Association of the Bay Area v. U.S. Department of Commerce, a decision with significant implications for property owners, the building industry, and the development community at large, the U.S. Court of...more

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