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Designating Critical Habitat

Karner blue butterfly.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) are jointly proposing a rule clarifying the procedures and standards used for designating critical habitat, addressing in particular several key issues that have been subject to frequent litigation. The proposed amendments would make minor changes to the regulations to: better describe the scope and purpose of critical habitat, add and remove some definitions, and clarify the criteria for designating critical habitat. This proposed rule would also revise the Services' regulations to be consistent with statutory amendments made in 2004 that make certain lands managed by the Department of Defense ineligible for designation as critical habitat.

These proposed changes will provide flexibility for determining what specific areas constitute critical habitat for a species and enhance the clarity and efficiency of the critical habitat designation process.

Read the news release

Read the extension bulletin

View the proposed rule

Read the extension notice

Get answers to frequently asked questions

On May 12, 2014, the Service published the proposed rule in the Federal Register for a 60-day comment period. The Service is extending the comment period until October 9, 2014. Information already submitted does not need to be resubmitted. Written comments and information can be submitted by one of the following methods:

  • Electronically: Use the federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to docket number [FWS-HQ-ES-2012-0096].
  • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-HQ-ES-2012-0096]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; MS: PDM, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

Last updated: October 2, 2014