By Keith Garner
The California Fish and Game Commission (“Commission”), at its February 5, 2009, meeting in Sacramento, accepted for consideration the petition to list the California tiger salamander (“CTS”) under the California Endangered Species Act (“CESA”), and the CTS was declared a candidate species. The Commission had initially rejected the petition, but it had been ordered to accept the petition by an appellate court. The CTS is already listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Commission’s acceptance of the petition starts a 12-month review period in which the Department of Fish and Game (“Department”) evaluates the status of the species. During the review period, candidate species are subject to the same protections as listed species under CESA. At the end of the review period, the Department must provide the Commission a written report that indicates whether the petitioned action is warranted. After receiving the Department’s evaluation, the Commission must take final action on the petition, deciding whether or not listing the species as threatened or endangered is warranted. If listing is not warranted in the Commission’s judgment, take of the former candidate species is no longer prohibited under CESA.
At the same time it accepted the petition, the Commission also adopted interim regulations that authorized incidental take under three circumstances: (1) where incidental take of the salamander has been authorized under the federal Endangered Species Act; (2) where take occurs as the result of an activity covered by a lake or streambed alteration agreement; and (3) where take occurs from routine and ongoing agricultural operations on land in existing agricultural uses. The interim take measures were adopted as an emergency regulation and became effective on February 23, 2009.
Keith Garner, AICP, is an associate in the Real Estate, Land Use and Environmental Practice Group in the firm’s San Francisco office.