Category: Endangered Species Act

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Court Finds Bumble Bees Fit within Statutory Definition of a “Fish;” All Invertebrates Eligible for Listing under California Endangered Species Act

In Almond Alliance of California v. Fish & Game Com. (2022) 79 Cal.App.5th 337, the Third District Court of Appeal held that the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) did not exceed its statutory authority under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) when the Commission designated four bumble bee species as candidate species for consideration under … Continue Reading

Public Trust Doctrine Applies to Groundwater, Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Exists Concurrently with Common Law and Did Not “Occupy the Field”

In Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board (2018) 26 Cal.App.5th 844, the Third District Court of Appeal held that the public trust doctrine applies to groundwater basin management where groundwater may effect “navigable waters” and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), Water Code section 10720 et seq., did not change this. The … Continue Reading

Third District Court of Appeal Gives Great Deference in Quasi-Judicial Agency Decision Not to Delist Coho Salmon, Ending Decades-Long Dispute

In Central Coast Forest Association v. Fish and Game Commission (2018) 18 Cal. App. 5th 1191, the California Third District Court of Appeal found the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) was correct to deny a petition to delist coho salmon from state protection under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Deferring to the scientific … Continue Reading


In Defenders of Wildlife v. United States Fish & Wildlife Service, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109509, the Northern District of California refused to preliminarily enjoin Panoche Valley Solar (PVS) from constructing a 247-megawatt solar facility comprised of approximately 1,529 acres of photovoltaic panels installed on a 2,154-acre site in the Panoche Valley in San Benito … Continue Reading


In Imperial County, just north of the Mexican border, lies the Imperial Sand Dunes Planning Area, a 227,000-acre tract of desert, of which 214,930 acres is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This swath of land is home to the Algodones Dunes, the largest active sand dune system in the United States. A … Continue Reading


In Alaska Oil & Gas Association v. Jewell, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3624, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court and upheld the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (“FWS”) final rule designating 187,000 square-miles as critical habitat to protect threatened polar bears as required by the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Under the ESA, FWS is required … Continue Reading

9th Circuit Holds ESA Does not Compel Use of Any Specific Methodology in “Balancing of Benefits” When Designating Critical Habitat

In 2005, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) designated the Green Sturgeon as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). When a species is considered threatened, under ESA, agencies are required to designate critical habitat for that species. Critical habitat is land that is essential to the conservation of the species and may … Continue Reading

In Plurality Opinion, Ninth Circuit Holds Traditional Four-Factor Test for Granting Injunctive Relief Applies in ESA Litigation

The dispute in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 10176 (Cottonwood), involved the ongoing battle over Federal protection of the Canada Lynx. In 2000, the Canada Lynx was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Six years later, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated … Continue Reading

Oil Spill Response Plan Does Not Require Endangered Species Act Consultation or Environmental Impact Statement

In Alaska Wilderness League v. Sally Jewell, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 9755, a coalition of environmental groups sued various administrative agencies following their approval of Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.’s (Shell’s) Oil Spill Response Plans (OSRPs) for their planned oil rigs in Alaska’s arctic coast. OSRPs are mandated under a combination of both the Clean … Continue Reading

Northern District of California Vacates Incidental Take Permits, Biological Opinion, and Environmental Impact Statement, but Refuses to Grant Injunctive Relief

In Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Ctr. v. Nat’l Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70622, the Northern District of California vacated two Incidental Take Permits (ITPs), an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and a biological opinion, but refused to enjoin the defendants from pursuing their project. The matter involved two ITPs that the Fish and Wildlife … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Reverses District Court and Upholds Biological Opinion Protecting Endangered Species in the Delta . . . Again

In San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Locke, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 24351, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court and upheld a National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) biological opinion that determined continuing water extractions in the Central Valley would jeopardize several threatened and endangered species. The court also affirmed the district court on … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rejects ESA and NEPA Challenges to Yellowstone Bison Management Plan

In Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 21949, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part an environmental advocacy groups’ challenge to a management plan for bison herds in Yellowstone National Park. While the court reversed several procedural determinations of the trial … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Requires Bureau of Reclamation to Consult with USFWS to Protect Delta Smelt

In another decision related to California’s delta smelt, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a unanimous en banc decision in NRDC v. Jewell, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 7063, reversed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the defendants and held that Environmental Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2) applies to the Bureau of Reclamation’s … Continue Reading


In a decision that included three opinions from the three-judge panel, the Ninth Circuit in San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Jewell, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 4781, reversed the district court’s decision and upheld a 2008 biological opinion prepared by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding the effect of the Central Valley … Continue Reading

Annual Operating Plans Not Subject to Discretionary Review Do Not Require ESA or NEPA Compliance

In Grand Canyon Trust v. United States Bureau of Reclamation (2012) 2012 U.S. App LEXIS 16859, the Grand Canyon Trust (Trust) charged the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) with violating several federal environmental laws in the operation of the Glen Canyon Dam. The District Court granted summary … Continue Reading

District Court Holds Approval of Timber Project Complied with ESA, NEPA, and NFMA

In Conservation Congress v. Nancy Finley (2012) U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104377, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California upheld the authorization of the Beaverslide Timber Sale and Fuel Reduction Project (Project), denying Conservation Congress and Environmental Protection Information Center’s (Plaintiffs) motion for summary judgment and granting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s (Fish … Continue Reading

Water Service Contracts in Central Valley Survive Endangered Species Act Challenges

In Natural Resources Defense Council v. Salazar, (2012) 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 14614, the 9th District Court of Appeals affirmed a grant of summary judgment, concluding plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the renewal of certain water service contracts under the Endangered Species Act and that renewal of other water service contracts was exempt … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Ruled in Favor of Tribe, Finding that the US Forest Service Violated the ESA by Giving Permission to Mine in a National Forest

In Karuk Tribe of California v. United States Forest Service, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 11145, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Forest Service (Service) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to consult with the appropriate wildlife agencies before approving four notices of intent (NOI). The NOIs gave miners permission to … Continue Reading

Federal District Court Stays Litigation over Endangered Frog and Snake to Permit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Consultation to Conclude

In Wild Equity Institute v. City and County of San Francisco, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58620, Plaintiffs, a collection of non-profit conservation groups, sued the City of San Francisco (City) for violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), claiming City’s actions as the owner and operator of the Sharp Park Golf Course (SPGC) have caused … Continue Reading

Court Holds Res Judicata Bars NEPA and ESA Challenges to Guidelines Adopted by State Department

In Turtle Island Restoration Network v. U.S. Dept. of States (9th Cir. 2012) 2012 U.S.LEXIS 3263, the Ninth Circuit Court determined that res judicata barred Turtle Island Restoration Network (“TIRN”) from bringing a challenge under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) because an organization for which TIRN was formally a … Continue Reading