Punching a hole in the faith local governments and developers in California have placed in habitat conservation plans, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that federal wildlife agencies retain the discretion to designate additional land as critical habitat even after an HCP has been approved. >>read more
Of all the ways that California is attempting to reduce its carbon footprint, perhaps none will have a more dramatic, or immediate, impact than that of solar power.
Up to 200 solar energy projects, are seeking, or have received, approval to be developed in California. Most notable of these are nine large-scale projects in the state's own Empty Quarter � the Mojave and Colorado -- where state and federal officials are on the verge of inking approvals on more than 4,100 megawatts worth of solar thermal farms. Collectively, they represent nearly ten times the amount of solar capacity installed in 2009, and enough energy to power roughly 2 million homes.
Typically it's the developers who worry about cap rates and the environmentalists who worry about preserving ecologically sensitive lands. That tradition could be upset, however, if a recent proposal to restrict the investments of nonprofit land trusts is approved by the California Department of Fish and Game.
The California Endangered Species Act allows for developers and other landowners to set aside sensitive lands and receive incidental take permits in exchange. These lands are typically preserved in perpetuity, using the investment income from endowments that the landowner sets aside.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's designation of 858,000 acres in Northern California and Southern Oregon as critical habitat for fifteen endangered or threatened vernal pool species.
The court rejected attacks from the Home Builders Association of Northern California on the procedures used by the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to designate the critical habitat.
A development project in Redding that would destroy critical habitat for endangered species may proceed because the affected habitat constitutes a small percentage of habitat available nationwide, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal has ruled.
The Ninth Circuit's decision puts a new twist on the debate over what constitutes "adverse modification" to critical habitat by upholding a black and white mathematical percentage formula applied by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Using the formula, a FWS biological opinion determine there would not be adverse modification or destruction of critical habitat of three species native to the Central Valley.
Like any visionary railroad baron, Leland Stanford hung on to some of the land at the end of the line -- in his case, the original Transcontinental Railroad. Stanford might not have imagined, however, that the ultimate fate of much of his land would depend not on the iron horse but instead on frogs, salamanders, and trout.
In the century since the Governor Stanford first deeded land to the university that bears his name, several of its native species have qualified for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, thus restricting Stanford University's ability to develop or otherwise use the land to fulfill its academic mission. The Stanford Habitat Conservation Plan is intended to ensure the land's long-term protection even as the university grows.
A Bush administration proposal to streamline the Endangered Species Act has met with stiff opposition from California environmentalists and state Attorney General Jerry Brown. A November letter signed by Senior Assistant Attorney General Ken Alex and Deputy Attorney General Tara Mueller to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accuses the agency of "flouting the public review process" as it rushes toward "a decision apparently already reached."
The California Fish and Game Commission must consider listing the California tiger salamander on the state endangered species list, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court determined that the Commission should have accepted a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and considered adding the salamander to the list of species protected by the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). "The Commission acted outside the range of its discretion in denying the petition," the court concluded.