On May 12, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service published proposed rules to implement certain changes to critical habitat procedures and designation/revision of critical habitat and to establish a policy for determining areas excluded from critical habitat designation. The changes are proposed as the result of litigation and court decisions that have either substantiated the Services authorities or clarified areas of confusion in the Endangered Species Act and/or the implementing regulations. The proposed changes would pertain only to new critical habitat designations. Existing critical habitat designated for species would not be reevaluated based on the new criteria. However, revisions made to existing designated critical habitat after the rules become final would be guided by the new regulations. Comments were received until July 11, 2014. Additional information may be found at: www.fws.gov/endangered/improving_esa/reg_reform.html.
The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) published their perspective on the proposed rules for changes to critical habitat on their “Liberty Blog” website (blog.pacificlegal.org/2014/fishing-ways-interfere-property-fws-catches-boot/) with a link to their comment letter submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
PLF views do not necessarily reflect those of BDA. We prepared a preliminary summary of pertinent changes and potential effects on clients for the proposed rulemaking that our clients may find helpful: (link to summary analysis)