Description: Lawsuit to compel designation of critical habitat for the eastern black rail.
Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/30/2022 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Conservation Groups Challenged Decision Not to Designate Critical Habitat for Marsh Bird Threatened by Rising Sea Levels. Center for Biological Diversity and Healthy Gulf filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Columbia seeking to compel designation of critical habitat for the eastern black rail, “a small, elusive, and vulnerable marsh bird” whose presence has declined by 90% over the past 25 years due to habitat loss. The complaint alleged that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had identified several “current primary stressors,” including wetland conversion, water withdrawals, land practices, and rising sea levels, that influenced the eastern black rail’s viability, and had noted “that these stressors, coupled with predicted sea level rise and increasing storm frequency and intensity, will have both a direct and indirect effect on the eastern black rail.” The plaintiffs alleged that the FWS’s determination that designation of critical habitat was “not prudent” was based on “the unsupported allegation that doing so would cause ‘overzealous birders’ to harm” the bird. The complaint alleged that this was not a reasoned explanation and therefore violated the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.