September 4, 2013

PLF petition prompts government to reclassify Santa Cruz cypress

By Brian T. Hodges Senior Attorney

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently published a proposed rule to “downlist” the Santa Cruz cypress from “endangered” to “threatened” status under the Endangered Species Act.  The proposal comes in response to a petition from PLF, which was based on a 2009 Service report that recommended the cypress for reclassification.  Although the Service had recommended reclassification, the agency did not begin to move forward with that process until PLF filed the petition and sued the Service for failing to take action.

The new proposal explains that reclassification is warranted because there are many more Santa Cruz cypress trees throughout Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties (California) than were known at the time the Service listed the cypress in 1987.  Reclassification is necessary to ensure that the cypress is properly regulated according to best available science.  Moreover, reclassification may allow for greater regulatory flexibility for private property owners who are affected by land use restrictions related to the cypress.

The Service will accept comments on the proposal until November 4, and will issue a final rule after considering the comments.

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