• Final Policy on “Significant Portion of Range” Released
  • August 7, 2014
  • Law Firm: Holland Hart LLP - Denver Office
  • On July 1, FWS and NMFS released their final policy interpreting the language “significant portion of its range” as it relates to ESA Section 4 listing criteria. To qualify as endangered under the ESA, a species must be “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” However, neither the ESA itself nor agency regulations define this phrase.

    The new policy aims to eliminate confusion, and identifies two situations in which a species may qualify as endangered: (1) it may be endangered throughout all of its range; or (2) it may be endangered throughout only a significant portion of its range. In the latter situation, a portion of a species range is deemed to be “significant” if the agencies determine that “the portion’s contribution to the viability of the species is so important that, without the members in that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future, throughout all its range.” If the species is found to be in danger of extinction within a significant portion of its range, the entire species throughout all its range will be listed.

    While the new policy considers habitat occupied by members of a species on a seasonal basis as within the species range, it excludes habitat historically, but not currently, occupied.