Week of June 25, 2007
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New Permit Program Proposed for Bald Eagle

With the bald eagle fully recovered and no longer needing the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), NAHB leaders have expressed firm support for its official “delisting,” which is scheduled for June 29.

However, home builders and developers are taking a close look at a permitting program proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on June 5, which would continue to protect these birds by amending the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act to provide assurances to builders if an activity cannot avoid "disturbing" the birds.

The proposal is now open for public comments.

Also included in the proposal is a new definition of when the eagle is being “disturbed,” which is considered as a “taking” under the law.

“Disturb” now means “to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle to a degree that causes, or is likely to cause, based on the best scientific information available, 1) injury to an eagle, 2) a decrease in its productivity, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior, or 3) nest abandonment, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior,” according to FWS.

While the agency has agreed with NAHB that developers and builders should be able to either grandfather in their existing ESA “take” permits or comply with the new guidelines or permitting program, concerns remain about how permit requests will be evaluated.

This and other issues will be pursued with FWS during the comment period, which is scheduled to close Sept. 4.

A copy of the proposed rule has been posted on the agency’s Web site.

Members interested in submitting comments or discussing the new proposals should e-mail Diane Keefe at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8663.

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