SW Legal studies in Business

Protecting Large Land Area for Endangered Species Meets ESA Standards
Description

Appeals court upheld a determination by the Fish and Wildlife service that a large area of land was needed to be declared critical habitat to protect various species. The Endangered Species Act requirements were met by the agency, so its determination is upheld.

Topic Environmental Law
Key Words

Endangered Species; Habitat; Conservation

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Vernal pools typically appear in the spring, following fall and winter rains, before they dry up for the rest of the year. The pools’ locations change from year to year depending on rainfall. Species that rely on the pools can go dormant for years before coming back to life when there is adequate water. Species include crustaceans, amphibians, insects, and plants. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designates critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect threatened or endangered species. FWS designated 1,200 square miles in northern California and southern Oregon as critical habitat for the pools and the species that rely upon them. Construction and agricultural groups challenged the designation as a larger area than necessary under the ESA. The district court upheld the areas designated for habitat conservation. Plaintiffs appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. When making designation of critical habitat under the ESA, the FWS can determine what elements are necessary for conservation without determining exactly when conservation would be complete. The ESA only requires determination of what physical and biological features are essential to conservation of species. The FWS provided adequate explanation for the decision to designate habitat needed for species protection, so its determination stands.

Citation Home Builders Association of Northern California v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ---F.3d--- (2010 WL 3081470, 9th Cir., 2010)

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