Alaska Highway in the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. Fish & Wildlife photo.

By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory & legal issues, ARTBA

ARTBA supported three proposed regulations aimed at reforming the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in Sept. 24 comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The proposals include “critical habitat” and determining when a species should be listed as “endangered” or “threatened.”

The “critical habitat” provisions of the ESA are especially significant since they designate specific areas where development can be restricted if a species is threatened. ARTBA noted, “determination of critical habitat is a very important issue for state and local governments, as well as businesses located in areas impacted by ESA activity.  A determination of critical habitat can literally remove hundreds of miles from the possibility of any type of development,” including transportation improvement projects.

ARTBA also advocated for a standard to define the “best available” scientific data in decisions concerning endangered or threatened species.