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The Department of the Interior announced today that it has finalized three rules that will strengthen the protection and recovery of threatened and endangered species and their habitats, according to a news release.

Last June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries announced three proposed rules and invited public comments on revised portions of the Endangered Species Act.

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Following that process, the agencies finalized two separate rules to revise joint Endangered Species Act regulations on interagency cooperation, listing determinations, and critical habitat designations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a third rule to reinstate the “blanket rule” options that were in place before 2019 for protecting threatened species.

“As species face new and daunting challenges, including climate change, degraded and fragmented habitat, invasive species, and wildlife disease, the Endangered Species Act is more important than ever to conserve and recover imperiled species now and for generations to come,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams in a statement. “These revisions underscore our commitment to using all of the tools available to help halt declines and stabilize populations of the species most at-risk.”

According to the DOI, the new rules will:

  • Improve and clarify interagency consultation.
  • Clarify the standards for classification decisions.
  • Align the critical habitat designation process with the ESA.
  • Emphasize that listing decisions and critical habitat designations are based on the best available science.

The final rules and additional information are available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Act Regulations website and will be published in the coming days in the Federal Register. The rules will be effective 30 days after publication. 

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