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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced the final changes to its regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) today. The changes were made to ESA sections 4 and 7. Section 4 deals primarily with adding or removing species from the ESA’s protections as well as determining what critical habitat is. Section 7 contains the regulations pertaining to consultations with other Federal agencies. These changes are expected to become effective in mid-September.
By providing many new or revised definitions, clarifying analysis standards and information, and by creating timelines to the informal consultation process, the USFWS has taken steps to add clarity and efficiency to federal interagency consultations under Section 7 of the ESA. What does this mean for you? These new regulations may trigger revisions to the content and format of draft Biological Assessments that have not yet been accepted by the USFWS.
Additionally, on a case-by-case basis, USFWS will now decide what protective regulations are necessary for species that are reclassified or newly listed as threatened. This change will not affect the Section 7 Consultation obligations of Federal agencies. This change will ensure that from now on, each species that is listed as threatened will receive protection tailored to the species’ individual conservation needs.
Finally, additional regulatory changes have been made to the interpretations of standards applied to listing, delisting, reclassifying, and designating critical habitats.
EcoPlan can help.
EcoPlan keeps abreast of the ever-changing regulations and is ready to assist you with understanding how these new regulations will apply to your current and future projects. Contact one of our biologists here to discuss how we can help you.