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Definition of Destruction or Adverse Modification

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) are jointly proposing a rule revising the definition of "destruction or adverse modification" of designated critical habitat. The current regulatory definition has been invalidated by the courts, and since 2004, the Services have relied on internal agency memoranda to define this term. The Services are now proposing to replace the invalidated definition with one that is consistent with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), its legislative history and circuit court opinions.

The Pagosa skyrocket is a rare biennial plant, which only grows on shale outcrops in and around Pagosa Springs in Archuleta County, Colorado.

The proposed revised definition of "destruction or adverse modification" focuses the Services' review of federal actions on how they would affect the designated critical habitat's ability to support recovery of species protected by the ESA. In this review, we look at how the action may affect the quantity and quality of habitat features, the ability of that habitat to support the species throughout its life cycle, and the ability of the habitat to meet the species' recovery needs; in other words, how the "conservation value" of the critical habitat is being affected.

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-R9-ES-2011-0072]
  • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-R9-ES-2011-0072]; 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