TWS Recommendations for Critical Habitat Policies

Image Credit: MacNeil Lyons, NPS

The Wildlife Society submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) applauding their efforts to bring regulatory clarity to rules and policies related to critical habitat designations under the Endangered Species Act. Two proposed rules included revisions to the process for designating critical habitat and changes to the definition of adverse modification of critical habitat. FWS also proposed one policy change regarding their process for determining which lands to exclude from critical habitat designations.

The Society developed several recommendations based on its 2005 Technical Review, Practical Solutions to Improve the Effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act for Wildlife Conservation, and input from several expert TWS members. TWS’s primary recommendations included using more quantitative and spatial considerations when designating critical habitat and defining adverse modification to that habitat, clarifying the definitions of certain terms in the proposed rules, the use of best available science when designating critical habitat, and putting policies in place to ensure FWS regularly looks for newly available data related to habitat needs of listed species.