On August 4, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule confirming its 2011 revision to the designation of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus). The Service listed the marbled murrelet as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1992. In 1996, the Service designated 3,887,800 acres across Washington, Oregon, and California as critical habitat. In 2003, the Service entered into a settlement agreement with the American Forest Resource Council (AFRC) and Western Council of Industrial Workers, and agreed to review the marbled murrelet’s critical habitat designation and make appropriate revisions after reconsideration of the economic and other relevant impacts of the designation. In 2011, the Service revised its original designation by issuing a final rule removing 189,671 acres in California and Oregon that had been included in the 1996 designation, resulting in a total of approximately 3,698,100 acres of designated critical habitat for the murrelet. In 2012, AFRC filed a lawsuit against the Service after the Service denied a petition to delist the species. The lawsuit also asked that the court vacate the final rule designating critical habitat. The court upheld the Service’s decision to deny the delisting petition, but the Service voluntarily agreed to reconsider the critical habitat designation in light of then-recent case law. The Service’s August 4, 2016 determination confirms the 2011 designation of critical habitat without any changes.
Also on August 4, 2016, the Service issued a final rule amending the format of the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists). The Service‘s stated intent for amending the Lists is to reflect current practices and standards that will make the Lists easier to understand. The changes to the Lists rename and reorganize the Lists’ columns and correct typos and other inconsistencies.