Endangered Species Act

On February 8, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed regulatory changes (Proposed Rule) focused on the application and approval process for Endangered Species Act (ESA) permits issued under Section 10. Section 10 of the ESA authorizes FWS to permit take of listed species where such take is necessary for scientific purposes or the enhancement of propagation or survival of the species, or where the take is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity. Section 10 permits are used for Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances and Safe Harbor Agreements, which are voluntary landowner agreements designed to benefit candidates or listed species, respectively. Section 10 permits also have been used to allow the take of listed species incidental to private development activities through a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), which involves the project proponent committing to certain conservation activities.Continue Reading Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes New Section 10 Regulations Under the Endangered Species Act

On September 22, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission or FERC) issued an order on rehearing (Rehearing Order), denying the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (Interior) request to include a requirement for a hydroelectric project to notify resource agencies if any activity may affect a federally listed Endangered Species Act (ESA) species and had not already been considered in the issued license (Notification Recommendation).Continue Reading FERC Denies Interior’s Requirement for Ongoing Species Notifications

On April 15, Judge André Birotte Jr. for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California determined that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s (Bureau) operation of the Twitchell Dam with certain water flows did not result in an unlawful take of Southern California Steelhead trout, a species listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Plaintiffs San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper and Los Padres Forestwatch claimed that the Bureau’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Twitchell Dam limit the timing and volume of releases from the dam in a manner that has diminished trout habitat and resulted in harm to the trout population by impairing behavioral patterns including breeding, spawning, rearing, and migrating.
Continue Reading Judge Does Not Require Dam to Alter Water Flows for ESA Species Protection

On July 31, 2020, the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, the “Services”) released an advance copy of a proposed rule defining “habitat” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The proposed rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register this week, kicking off a 30-day public comment period.
Continue Reading Definition of Habitat Proposed for the ESA