June 01, 2015

The Critical Habitat Exclusion Policy: Implications for Conservation Partnerships on Private Land

Robert D. Thornton and Liz Klebaner

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration propose to adopt a policy (Policy) governing exclusion of lands from critical habitat designation under section 4(b)(2)of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 79 Fed. Reg. 27,052 (May 12, 2014). Adopted in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 (1978), section 4(b)(2) requires the wildlife agencies to consider economic and other “relevant” impacts of critical habitat and authorized exclusions from critical habitat where the benefits of exclusion “outweigh” the benefits of the critical habitat designation. The only limiting criterion on the secretary’s discretion is that an exclusion determination may not result in the extinction of the species concerned.

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