Conservation

Per the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) may designate land a “critical habitat” for an endangered species. The ESA mandates that FWS consider the economic impact of specifying an area as a critical habitat. FWS may exclude an area if the benefits of excluding it outweigh the benefits of including it.

In its amicus brief in Weyerhaeuser Company v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) argues courts may review FWS decisions not to exclude an area from a critical habitat because of the economic impact of the designation.

A recent report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows the continued decline in the number of Americans who hunt. Currently, only about 5 percent of people 16 and over hunt, whereas it was nearly double that five decades ago. Less people acquiring a hunting license has created funding problems for state conservation programs,...

In Weyerhaeuser Company v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the Supreme Court will decide whether the “critical habitat” designation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) may include land currently uninhabitable for the species in question. The Court will also decide whether a court may review the Service’s economic impact analysis.

Alabama and 17 other states filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to review this case because: “Critical habitat determinations have serious consequences for the economic and ecological interests of the States. Designations of critical habitat that go beyond what the statute allows cost jobs and tax revenue, while the States’ efforts to comply with these designations often require the expenditure of taxpayer funds.”    

Last week, President Trump signed an executive order directing the U.S. Department of the Interior to review the establishment of national monuments made under the Antiquities Act. The review will focus on sites designated since 1996 that comprise at least 100,000 acres.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to proclaim national monuments on federal land to protect areas...

Wildfires have been increasingly burning through acres of forested land, as well as state budgets across the United States.

Since April, environmental groups in Colorado have been working to gather signatures for two statewide initiatives that would amend the state constitution to increase regulatory control on energy industries. Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development submitted two measures, Initiatives 75 and 78, that would grant local governments the authority to regulate energy industry development and establish that facilities be at least 2,500 feet from an occupied structure.

On July 19, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) removed the Lesser Prairie Chicken from the endangered species list, on which the species was listed as threatened (one step below endangered) beginning in April 2014.

This move followed the September 2015 holding by Judge Robert Junnell of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas that vacated the agency’s listing of the species under the Endangered Species Act for failure to properly evaluate the states’ conservation plans already in place.

The...

Since 2009, several states throughout the nation have begun to restrict the use of felt-soled wader and wading boots. States are changing standards in an attempt to decrease the spread of invasive species that the boots cause.

On June 15, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed two pieces of legislation that would, if signed into law, transfer control of large swaths of federally managed public lands from the Department of the Interior to individual states.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 131st anniversary of America’s first state park at Niagara Falls. Park visitation has become more popular than ever, with 2015 being a record-breaking year for visitors to national parks as well as state parks in Michigan, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

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