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Habitat Program for Endangered Species Found Lacking By GAO

A report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) criticizes the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for failing to explain the process it uses to determine critical habitat for endangered species.

“This report is a very public acknowledgment of a serious problem that the home builders have been pointing out for years,” said NAHB President-elect Bobby Rayburn. “The Fish and Wildlife Service can’t hide now. It’s time for them to put together sensible, fair and understandable policy.”

The report — “Endangered Species: Fish and Wildlife Service Uses Best Available Science to Make Listing Decisions, But Additional Guidance Needed for Critical Habitat Designations” —

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was written in response to growing criticism of, and legal challenges to, the Service’s critical habitat program.

The FWS announced in 1999 that its system for designating critical habitat was not working and that it would develop guidance on the designation process, the report notes. “However, such guidance and clarification were never issued, and the Service continues to follow the same system that it recognizes is unworkable.”

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