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Definition of Destruction or Adverse Modification

Building on the success of the Obama Administration in improving regulations and in implementing the Endangered Species Act in new and innovative ways, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service today finalized a policy and two rules that will provide a clearer, more consistent and predictable process for designating critical habitat.

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

The final definition for adverse modification retains the current focus of the Services' review of federal actions on how those actions affect the "physical or biological features essential to the conservation of a listed species," and the ability of that habitat to support the species throughout its life cycle, and to meet the species' recovery needs. Incorporating this approach into a revised regulation will improve the predictability and transparency of these determinations for federal agencies and the public.

The previous regulatory definition was invalidated by the courts in 2004. The revised definition, which is consistent with the ESA, its legislative history and circuit court opinions, codifies the approach the Services have employed since 2004.

The final rule published in the Federal Register on February 11, 2016, and becomes effective 30 days after publication on March 14, 2016.

Read the news release

View the final rule

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Last updated: September 7, 2016