Fish & Wildlife Service tosses out Trump-era species habitat rule

Jul 21, 2022

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tossed out a Trump-era rule yesterday that weakened the agency’s authority to identify lands and waters where declining animal and plant species could receive protection, essentially shrinking species’ critical habitat.

In a 48-page document explaining the rationale for withdrawal of the rule, the Fish and Wildlife Service said it gave outside parties an “outsized role” in determining which areas were needed for preserving imperiled species while undermining the FWS’ authority to implement the Endangered Species Act (ESA). By reversing the Trump-era rule, FWS is officially reverting to the rule that was previously in place in which critical habitat is considered “essential for the conservation of the species.”

“This rule will allow our biologists to ensure critical habitat designations contribute to the conservation of ESA-listed species,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams said in a statement, adding, “today’s action helps the Service implement the ESA in ways that support sound science and citizen participation.”

Podcast: Journalist Leah Sottile on the Bundy-January 6 connection

On this episode of The LandscapeLeah Sottile joins Kate and Aaron to talk about the connections between the Bundy family standoffs and the January 6th insurrection, as well as her new book, “When the Moon Turns to Blood,” a wild and tragic case of two murdered children and religious extremism out of Idaho. Sottile is a journalist and author whose work focuses on religious extremism in the West. She is the host of the podcast Bundyville, which explores the family’s standoffs with federal agents at their Bunkerville ranch and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Quick hits

Haaland touts America the Beautiful initiative at conference on urban parks and climate change

Inside Climate News

How oil companies endlessly avoid clean-up costs

High Country News

The feds carry a big stick on the Colorado River—will the states get hit?

KUNC | E&E News

A Hueco Tanks park ranger helps more Latinos access the outdoors

El Paso Times

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service tosses out Trump-era species habitat rule

Associated Press | E&E News

Biden announces modest steps to fight climate’s “clear and present danger”

Politico | E&E News

If oil drilling ends in California, what happens to oil country?

New York Times

Where New Mexico voters stand on oil & gas + climate change heading into the November election

Carlsbad Current-Argus

Quote of the day

It’s helped me feel this sense of belonging that I didn’t know I needed so deeply. We don’t often see ourselves as Chicanos or as Mexicans, especially we who live in the city, as being connected to the environment, but we’ve been here and always have been.” 

Nicole Roque, interpretive guide at Hueco Tanks State Park in El Paso, Texas

Picture this

great gila lizard

Gila monsters are amazing lizards. These large, colorful animals are iconic reptiles of the American Southwest. It’s the largest lizard native to the United States and one of the only venomous lizards in the entire world. Photo at @SaguaroNPS by N. Perkins

(featured image: Attribution | link)