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Center for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20200
Nos. 1:20-cv-00529 (TNM), (D.D.C., 08/20/2020) (McFadden, J.)

A district court denied FWS' motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking a new recovery plan for the endangered Houston toad. An environmental group argued that FWS had "never developed a scientifically grounded and legally valid recovery plan" for the toad and thus was in violation of §4(f) of the ESA. The Service moved to dismiss, arguing that §4(f)'s mandate, enacted in 1988, did not apply retroactively to its 1984 recovery plan for the species and thus imposed no mandatory duty on the Service to revise that plan. The court found that even if it agreed with FWS that §4(f) had no retroactive effect on the 1984 plan, the group's allegations remained true and §4(f) created a duty that the Service had failed to undertake. It therefore held that the group stated a claim under the ESA and established jurisdiction under the Act's civil-suit provision, and denied FWS' motion to dismiss.