Congress enacted the following amendments to the Endangered Species Act in 1978:
- Provisions were added to section 7, allowing federal agencies to undertake an action that would jeopardize listed species if the action is exempted by a Cabinet-level committee convened for this purpose;
- Critical habitat was required to be designated concurrently with listing a species, when prudent, and economic and other impacts of designation were required to be considered in deciding on boundaries [section 4];
- The Secretary of Agriculture (for the Forest Service) was directed to join the Secretaries of Interior, Commerce, and Defense in developing a program for conserving fish, wildlife and plants, including listed species; land acquisition authority was extended to all such species [section 5];
- The definition of "species" with respect to "populations" was restricted to vertebrates; otherwise, any species, subspecies, or variety of plant, or species or subspecies of animal remained eligible for protection under the Act [section 3].