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ESA Implementation | Definition of Destruction or Adverse Modification
Photo credit: USFWS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) finalized a policy and two rules that will provide a clearer, more consistent and predictable process for designating critical habitat.
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.
View the final rule.
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