U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Proposes to Restore Broader Definition of “Critical Habitat”

In response to the January 20, 2021 Presidential Executive Order that required all federal agencies to review specific actions taken between January 20, 2017 and January 20, 2021, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is proposing to rescind a rule that limited the definition of “habitat” during the agency’s designation of critical habitats for imperiled species. FWS found that the January 15, 2021 rule’s narrow definition “inappropriately constrains the Service’s ability to designate areas that meet the definition of ‘critical habitat’ under the [Endangered Species] Act.” The public comment period is open through November 26, 2021. On October 26, 2021, H.R. 5733 was introduced in Congress to try and codify the previous, more limited definition of “habitat” before FWS has time to rescind the rule.