Lake Sturgeon: protection under the Endangered Species Act?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is currently reviewing whether Lake Sturgeon should be listed and protected as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The decision to protect Lake Sturgeon under the ESA would have a significant impact on hydropower operating requirements in the areas where it becomes protected.
Dams and hydroelectric facilities, dredging and channelization, contaminants, habitat fragmentation, the species’ life-history characteristics, invasive species, and inadequate regulatory mechanisms for protection were all identified as threats to the Lake Sturgeon population in the notice initiating the status review.
The requirements for Lake Sturgeon to reach this point in the ESA listing process are relatively minor. For Lake Sturgeon to receive protection under the ESA and become listed as either threatened or endangered, the process is much more rigorous and will rely on the best available science and information.
The FWS is requesting data and comments for analysis, which can be provided here. The deadline for submitting comments is December 31, 2020.
The documents associated with the review process and the comments submitted can also be viewed at the website listed above. To date, Lake Sturgeon information has been provided by the Illinois DNR, the Ohio DNR, and the Michigan DNR. The Michigan DNR has taken the position that the Lake Sturgeon population in Michigan does not need to be listed.
There does not appear to be a posted timetable for the decision because reviews are prioritized to use available funding. We are committed to remaining up to date on how new developments might impact our clients, so we can continue to provide the best guidance possible.
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