The definition of a critical habitat is to expand from ‘an area occupied by species at the time it is listed’, to areas that a species may occupy in the future due to climate change or other factors. This is due to final rules from the US Fish and Wildlife Services and National Marine Fisheries Services that allow the agencies to expand the critical habitat definition beyond what is currently in the Endangered Species Act.
The final rules on Definition of Destruction or Adverse Modification of Critical Habitat and Rule for Designating Critical Habitat were released on 11 February, and are very similar to draft rules released, and commented on, by NSSGA in 2014. While the agencies claim these rules merely clarify current practice, NSSGA noted that the changes were an unnecessary and unlawful expansion of clear limits set within the Endangered Species Act and increase uncertainty for the regulated community.
“Members should be aware that these changes could cause an increase in a habitat’s areal extent, necessitating stringent mitigation measures, should a habitat designation include their property,” said Emily Coyner, NSSGA environmental services director.
NSSGA will closely monitor implementation of these rules.
Adapted from press release by Rebecca Bowden
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/the-americas/26022016/definition-of-critical-habitat-set-to-change-580/