The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries announced Thursday proposed revisions to the Endangered Species Act. Several proposed changes deal with procedures for listing species, recovery and designating critical habitat. The agencies propose to revise the procedures for designating critical habitat by reinstating a requirement that they will first evaluate areas currently occupied by the species before considering unoccupied areas.
The agencies are also clarifying that decisions to delist a species are made using the same standard as decisions to list species. The Fish and Wildlife Service is separately proposing to rescind its blanket rule which automatically conveyed the same protections for threatened species as for endangered species unless otherwise specified.
Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council, says the proposal takes a “serious and measured approach to modernizing the regulatory side” of the ESA. Lane says the changes could “provide tremendous relief to ranchers once finalized.”