Stoel Rives' ESA Team is nationally recognized for its experience in forging creative solutions to conflicts relating to endangered species and other wildlife issues. We have a thorough knowledge of this complex area of the law on both state-by-state and federal levels. And we are committed to helping clients stake out common ground where satisfaction can be found.
A Deep Understanding of the Issues
Many of our attorneys come from backgrounds in science, biology, engineering, geology, business, economics, and public policy, with considerable experience in the fields of water rights, water management, hydropower relicensing, timber production, land use, residential and commercial development, and agriculture. Our ESA Team also benefits from the insights and relationships gleaned from years of working for federal and state agencies responsible for endangered species and related matters, including the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Reclamation, Department of State, Department of Justice (Environment and Natural Resources Section), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Northwest Power Planning Council. We have a deep understanding of the issues surrounding the ESA because we've participated in the ESA process from many different angles.
Many ESA Team members have been involved in developing major regulatory or statutory changes in their respective states. Recognizing the importance of public opinion, our attorneys maintain solid professional relationships with legislative and agency decision makers through participation on a variety of public boards, commissions, and committees.
Compliance and Administrative Proceedings
We counsel clients on all facets of the ESA and similar laws, including:
- the listing of threatened or endangered species
- the designation of their critical habitat
- activities that may result in the unauthorized take of listed species
- the authorization of take through consultation between federal agencies on federally funded or approved projects, or through the incidental take permit process on other projects
Working with various federal agencies, we have shepherded many projects through the federal ESA section 7 consultation process, including hydropower facilities, land developments needing wetland fill permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and facilities requiring National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits from the EPA. The ESA Team has also secured incidental take authorization through consultation between federal agencies on federally funded or approved projects or through the incidental take permit process on other projects' habitat conservation plans and safe harbor agreements for various activities, including land development, timber harvesting, and watershed impacts. Such incidental take authorization allows development to proceed while protecting and restoring key habitat areas.
Because many federal, state, and local laws and regulations come into play when the ESA is applied to a particular project, experience in other areas of environmental regulation is critical to developing a comprehensive compliance strategy. Stoel Rives' 59-attorney Natural Resources and Land Use practice group has the depth to counsel clients who are beset with multiple regulatory restrictions imposed by federal, state, and local agencies.
Our clients sometimes find it necessary to either defend or protect their interests through the state or federal court system. The ESA Team boasts some of the most accomplished litigators in the country and has many years of experience in ESA litigation. We have handled cases in federal and state trial courts throughout the West and in the District of Columbia, the federal circuit courts of appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court. We have successfully challenged listings and critical habitat designations, and have defended citizen suits challenging habitat conservation plans and alleged unlawful take of endangered species. We have also successfully challenged agency decisions restricting land development, water use, timber harvests, and hydropower operations and have litigated cases of first impression under various state endangered species laws.
Our ESA-Related Clients
Our clients requiring ESA-related counsel include ports; wind, hydropower, ocean, tidal, liquid natural gas, and other energy facilities; oil and gas developers; timber harvest operations; pulp and paper facilities; real estate developers; commercial fishing organizations; water rights holders; irrigation and other water management districts; ranches, farms and dairies; and municipalities.