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Designating Critical Habitat

Karner blue butterfly.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) jointly proposed 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.

The Service anticipates finalizing the policy in the summer of 2015.

Read the news release

View the proposed rule

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Last updated: May 18, 2015