NAHB Jumps in on Supreme Court’s Gopher Frog Case

Filed in Environmental, Land Development, Legal by on April 30, 2018 0 Comments

Supreme CourtNAHB today filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of two NAHB members contesting a provision of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that would result in $34 million in lost property value to protect an animal that doesn’t even live there.

In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 1,555 acres of private land in Louisiana as unoccupied “critical habitat” for the endangered dusky gopher frog. The agency designated the forested land based on pure speculation, hoping that the property would someday be managed by private landowners for the species’ conservation.

However, the only way to make the land suitable to the frog’s habitat is through controlled burns and re-vegetation — something the agency cannot mandate on privately held land.

The landowners, both NAHB members, filed suit in the U.S. District Court in 2013, and in 2014 the judge upheld the critical habitat designation as lawful, even though he described it as “remarkably intrusive” and potentially even abusive — based on what he described as the “extraordinary scope of the ESA.”

NAHB, along with the American Farm Bureau and National Alliance of Forest Owners, filed an amicus brief in support of the appellant when the case moved on appeal to the Circuit Court in 2014. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court to uphold the critical habitat designation in 2016.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case in January and it will be on the schedule when the court reconvenes for its next term in the fall. For additional information, contact Jeff Augello.

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