United States of America
Biodiversity, Protected Areas, Wildlife, Forests, Evidence, Wetlands, Standing, Jurisdiction, Permits
Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association (Plaintiff) challenged Fish and Wildlife Service's (Defendant) designation of approximately 8.6 million acres of federal land as critical habitat for Mexican spotted owls under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in its 2004 Final Rule. The primary issues were whether Defendant impermissibly included unoccupied areas as critical habitat, and whether Defendant impermissibly employed the baseline approach in its economic analysis. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s entry of summary judgment for Defendant, holding that Defendant properly defined occupied areas to include areas where the owl species is likely to be present, and therefore, correctly designated only occupied areas as critical habitat. The Court also held that Defendant properly applied the baseline approach in analyzing the economic impact of its critical habitat designation. The economic impact of listing a species as endangered or threatened is not intended to be included in the economic analysis of the critical habitat designation, therefore, the Court rejected Plaintiff’s argument for the co-extensive approach.