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California Cattlemen's Ass'n v. United States Fish & Wildlife Service

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20087
Nos. 1:17-cv-01536, (D.D.C., 05/29/2018) (McFadden, J.)

A district court denied motions to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the federal designation of over 1.8 million acres in the Sierra Nevada mountains as critical habitat for three amphibian species. Associations representing California ranchers and farmers who are no longer able to graze livestock on the land filed suit against the government under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and the APA, arguing that the government failed to conduct regulatory flexibility analyses on the designations' impacts on small entities. The government filed motions to dismiss, but the complaint survives applicable pleading standards. The government argued that the associations' claims do not fall within the zone of interests protected by the RFA because the final designations required consultations between federal agencies and nothing more. But the interagency consultations concerned the designations' impact on land use, the ultimate impact of which will be felt by small entities like farmers and ranchers—precisely the type of entities Congress had in mind when it passed the RFA. The lawsuits, therefore, may proceed.