August 15, 2014

Hearing set for gopher frog challenge

By M. Reed Hopper Senior Attorney

In 2013, on behalf of Markle Interests, LLC, we filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service challenging the agency’s over-board designation of “critical habitat” for the dusky gopher frog in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. Among other things, the Service designated over 1500 acres of private land as “critical habitat” that is unoccupied by the gopher frog and unsuitable as habitat. To our knowledge, this is the first time the Service has set aside private property for conservation of a species that is both unusable by and inaccessible to the species. Under the Service’s expansive interpretation of the Endangered Species Act, the agency may regulate any land it believes may someday be useful in conservation or recovery efforts. This interpretation exceeds federal statutory and constitutional authority and suggests that no property is safe from the grasping hands of overzealous bureaucrats bent on federalizing private property.

On Wednesday, August 20, at 10:am, we will argue the case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans, LA.

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Weyerhaeuser/Markle v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As a child, Edward Poitevent’s family cut down Christmas trees on their lumber-rich land in Louisiana, and one day he’d like to leave the property to his own children. But federal bureaucrats jeopardized his legacy when they declared nearly 1,500 acres of his family’s private land as a critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog—a species not seen in the state for more than 50 years. Neither the Endangered Species Act nor congressional intent justifies such government-sanctioned property theft. Represented by PLF, Edward sued and on October 1st, 2018, he will join another affected property owner, Weyerhaeuser Company, at the U.S. Supreme Court to defend their constitutionally protected property rights. Oral argument held at U.S. Supreme Court on October 1, 2018.

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