House Natural Resources Committee Moves Four Bills to the House Floor for Consideration

On September 27, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on nine bills that would amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA).  Four of those bills were voted to the House floor for consideration.  The four bills are:

H.R. 3608: The Endangered Species Transparency & Reasonableness Act

  • This bill would require public posting of information used to make listing decisions, allow greater use of state and local scientific data in decisions, and alter how attorney fees could be collected in litigation.

H.R. 6345: The Ensuring Meaningful Petition Outreach While Enhancing Rights of States (EMPOWERS) Act of 2018

  • This bill would require USFWS to consult with state and local governments during the listing process and that the agency justify any decision where there is a disagreement.

H.R. 6346: The Weigh Habitats Offsetting Locational Effects (WHOLE) Act of 2018

  • This bill would require federal agencies to consider the totality of conservation measures already in place when determining whether a potential federal action will jeopardize species or habitat loss

H.R. 6355: Providing ESA Timing Improvements That Increase Opportunities for Nonlisting (PETITION) Act of 2018

  • This bill would allow the USFWS secretary to declare a backlog of petitions to list new species, allowing the agency to more easily dispose of certain listing petitions. The panel adopted an amendment to the bill that would allow petitioners to pay a fee to expedite consideration of their application.

FLA continues to support the wise modernization of the ESA to reduce the regulatory burden that this law places on private forestlands and their owners.

USFWS Calls for Input on Data from the Public for Red-cockaded Woodpecker Five Year Status Review

On August 6, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a notice in the Federal Register on the initiation of a 5-year status review for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW). This review will assess whether the RCW should remain an endangered species, be downlisted to “threatened,” or be removed from the list or “delisted.” In support of this review, the USFWS is seeking information from the public about the RCW, with a particular focus on 1) RCW colonies on private lands not enrolled in the Safe Harbor program and 2) what changes – if any – to forest management would landowners who have known RCW colonies make if the species were delisted.

FLA is working closely with the USFWS to determine how private landowners can provide useful information that may support a delisting of the RCW, while protecting the rights and interests of the landowners affected by this listed species.