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

For the second time in a month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed changes to how it designates “critical habitat” for plants and animals. Once again, ARTBA is urging the agency to eliminate confusion about what is or isn’t designated under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

In Oct. 8 comments, ARTBA noted these decisions “can literally remove hundreds of miles from the possibility of any type of development,” and delay important transportation projects in costly litigation. In Illinois, confusion over rusty patch bumble bee habitat temporarily halted the $115 million Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor project. That’s why defining critical habitat “in a manner which achieves both species protection and an efficient regulatory structure” is so important, ARTBA explained.

FWS continues to simultaneously finalize its September proposal making additional changes to the critical habitat process. ARTBA will continue to advocate for meaningful reforms to the ESA as the Trump administration moves forward on both proposals.

(Photo: Rusty patched bumble bee. Kim Mitchell, USFWS)