Recovery Planning, the Courts and the Endangered Species Act
16 Nat. Resources & Env't. 106 (2001-2002)
6 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 10, 2001
According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service recovery is the cornerstone and ultimate purpose of the endangered species program. Recovery is by far the hardest thing the ESA requires. Past and future recovery efforts under the ESA grow out of the recovery planning process and the "recovery plans" the ESA authorizes and requires. Recovery plans were originally non-legal documents prepared by biologists, without the aid of lawyers, to assist agencies in making decisions about what to do to help protected species. Recovery planning has been dragged, reluctantly, but inevitably, into the legal arena. While some within the agencies would like recovery plans to remain forever "guidance documents" immune from judicial review, recovery plans have become too important and influential for courts to ignore. This article discusses the statutory foundations of recovery planning, how the courts have interpreted the recovery planning requirements, including the enforceability and adequacy of recovery plans, and the relationship of recovery planning to other important sections of the ESA.
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