Just in time for Endangered Species Day this Friday, we have news this week that some governmental agencies have proposed new rules that would expand the current Endangered Species Act.

This change would limit new development in areas inhabited — now or in the future — by endangered and threatened species.

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The proposal, made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, is, according to FIS, intended to “improve the process of designating areas of critical habitat and to increase the predictability and transparency of the actions performed by these agencies related to critical habitat under the Surveillance Authority (ESA).”

“Our goal in proposing these revisions is to make the process of designating and consulting on critical habitat more predictable, more efficient, and more easily understood,” said Gary Frazer, assistant director for Ecological Services for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The first rule will revise the current definition of “adverse modification or destruction” for designated habitats.

According to FIS, “As the current regulatory definition has been invalidated by the courts, both federal agencies are now proposing to replace the invalidated definition with one that is consistent with the ESA, its legislative history and circuit court opinions.”

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With this revised definition, a review of actions on how they would, according to FIS, “affect the designated critical habitat’s ability to support recovery of the listed species. In this review, the quantity and quality of habitat features, the ability of that habitat to support the species throughout its life cycle, and the ability of the habitat to meet the species’ recovery needs are considered.”

The second proposed rule will focus on the designation of critical habitats. This includes a demand to “better describe the scope and purpose of critical habitat, add and remove some definitions, and clarify the criteria for designating critical habitat.”

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Lastly, the proposal seeks to create policy that will “provide greater predictability, transparency and consistency” in regard to how the federal agencies make exclusions to critical habitat  decisions, as FIS reports.

Here’s hoping these new proposals find their passage through the approval line in the name of our endangered animals!

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Image source: Mike Baird/Fotopedia

 

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