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Last week the U.S. 鱼类和野生动物服务 ("FWS") and the National Marine Fisheries Service ("NMFS") (collectively, the "Services") finalized a rule defining the term "栖息地" as used for designating "critical 栖息地" under the 濒危物种法 (the "ESA"). The ESA requires the Services to designate critical 栖息地 for threatened and endangered species to conserve the ecosystems relied upon by these species. By definition, “critical 栖息地”包括被该物种占用和未被占用的区域“对保护物种至关重要。”

该博客的读者可能还记得 Weyerhaeuser Co.诉美国鱼类和野生动物服务局 (2018),最高法院撤消了第五巡回上诉法院’决定维持服务部门将未占用区域指定为“essential”尽享该地区濒临灭绝的Dusky Gopher Frog’缺乏敞篷– a feature that the Services deemed 必要 in its occupied 栖息地 designation. The 最高法院 opined that in order for 栖息地 to be designated 关键栖息地 the Services must first determine if the area at issue is indeed 栖息地 for the endangered species (more discussion 这里 ). For many, the opinion was an about-face as to the scope of critical 栖息地 but before another opinion was issued on remand, the Services stepped in and promulgated this rule in response.

The final rule, which only applies to critical 栖息地 rules proposed after 一月 19, 2021, provides:

For the purposes of designating critical 栖息地 only, 栖息地 is the abiotic and biotic setting that currently or periodically contains the resources and conditions necessary to support one or more life processes of a species.

在对最终规则的评论中,服务局强调,此规则制定并非旨在创建新的监管步骤或过程,而是旨在为以下方面提供明确的定义:“habitat”两者都与 Weyerhaeuser 并且足够宽,可以将占用区和未占用区都指定为“critical 栖息地,”按照ESA第3节的要求。至关重要的是“habitat” definition requires an area either "currently or periodically" contain the resources and conditions necessary to support a threatened or endangered species. Critics of the rule argue that this language narrows the scope of what could otherwise be considered 栖息地 by excluding areas that don't have the necessary conditions now but could have the necessary conditions in the future should the species require additional or new 栖息地 due to climate change.