Weyerhaeuser Co. v. United States Fish and Wildlife Serv.

The Fish and Wildlife Service administers the Endangered Species Act of 1973 on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior. In 2001, the Service listed the dusky gopher frog as an endangered species. See 16 U. S. C. §1533(a)(1). That required the Service to designate “critical habitat” for the frog. The Service proposed designating as part of that critical habitat a site in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, which the Service dubbed “Unit 1.” The frog had once lived in Unit 1, but the land had long been used as a commercial timber plantation, and no frogs had been spotted there for decades. The Service concluded that Unit 1 met the statutory definition of unoccupied critical habitat because its rare, high-quality breeding ponds and distance from existing frog populations made it essential for the species’ conservation. §1532(5)(A)(ii). The Service then commissioned a report on the probable economic impact of its proposed critical-habitat designation. §1533(b)(2). With regard to Unit 1, the report found that designation might bar future development of the site, depriving the owners of up to $33.9 million. The Service nonetheless concluded that the potential costs were not disproportionate to the conservation benefits and proceeded to designate Unit 1 as critical habitat for the dusky gopher frogWeyerhaeuser Co. v. United States Fish and Wildlife Serv.