A public comment submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the proposed rescission of the regulation defining “habitat” for purposes of designating critical habitat.
- Critical habitat designations can make habitat features a liability for private landowners, thereby discouraging conservation
- This perverse incentive is strongest for land that is not currently able to sustain a species but requires active restoration effort
- Repealing the “habitat” definition, rather than improving it, will invite further conflict without promoting conservation
The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) respectfully submits this comment to the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the proposed rescission of the regulation defining “habitat” for purposes of designating critical habitat. PERC’s research has found that critical habitat designations can make habitat features or the potential to create them a significant liability for landowners, thereby discouraging habitat conservation and restoration. While not avoiding it entirely, interpreting habitat as land that is currently able to support a species mitigates this perverse-incentive problem. Repealing the current habitat definition, rather than improving it, would not only exacerbate conflict but also distract from better methods to promote habitat restoration. PERC urges the Services to instead consider how to improve the definition to best encourage conservation.