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Endangered Species

Environmental Law & Natural Resources

Best Best & Krieger's lawyers are at the forefront of one of the most rapidly changing areas of environmental law, endangered species regulation under the California and Federal Endangered Species Acts and the Natural Community Conservation Planning Act.

BB&K has assisted many clients, both public and private, in complying with these laws while also meeting project goals and objectives in a timely and effective manner.

Our lawyers have taken leadership roles in developing, implementing, and managing habitat conservation plans (HCPs), Natural Community Conservation Plans (NCCPs), and their related implementation agreements. By setting aside habitat for wildlife, often through a "bank" of development credits and exchanges, these plans meet preservation goals for species while avoiding development paralysis.

We also routinely assist our clients in obtaining incidental take permits, negotiating the biological opinion process, and commenting upon proposed listings of new species. BB&K has consistently demonstrated the ability to work well with the numerous wildlife agencies charged with administering these acts, including the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, and the California Fish & Game Commission.

We also have extensive experience litigating endangered species issues. In defending our clients' interests against unwarranted applications of the laws, we have frequently created new law. For example, after obtaining a unanimous decision from the United States Supreme Court allowing resource users in the Klamath Basin standing to challenge a biological opinion, BB&K won a summary judgment in the District Court, resulting in one of the few published decisions overturning a biological opinion as "arbitrary and capricious." Some of our attorneys also actively consulted on the Tulare Lake Basin case, in which the United States Court of Claims ruled that application of water restrictions promulgated under the Federal Endangered Species Act to those who receive water from the State Water Project resulted in a taking of their water rights. We have recently litigated a suit challenging the United States Fish & Wildlife Service's pattern and practice of disregarding economic impacts analysis when designating critical habitat.


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