Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat
We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS or Service), amend portions of our regulations that implement section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The revisions set forth a process for excluding areas of critical habitat under section 4(b)(2) of the Act, which mandates our consideration of the impacts of designating critical habitat and permits exclusions of particular areas following a discretionary exclusion analysis. These regulations outline when and how the Service will undertake an exclusion analysis, including identifying a non-exhaustive list of categories of potential impacts that we will consider. This rule, reflects agency experience, codifies some current agency practices, makes some modifications to current agency practice, and responds to applicable Supreme Court case law. The intended effect of this rule is to provide greater transparency and certainty for the public and stakeholders.