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Northern New Mexico Stockman's Ass'n v. United States Fish & Wildlife Service

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20233
Nos. CIV 18-1138 JB\JFR, (D.N.M., 10/13/2020) (Browning, J.)

A district court dismissed a challenge to FWS' designation of critical habitat for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. Southwestern ranchers argued that the Service underestimated the designation's economic impacts by not considering costs beyond the designation itself, in violation of the ESA. The court found that FWS' decision to use the incremental effects approach to consider economic impacts was consistent with the ESA, and that it did not abuse its discretion by failing to consider other designation costs, such as compensating the ranchers for reducing the value of their water rights. The ranchers also argued the Service failed to provide a reasoned explanation for not excluding two areas from the designation. The court found that FWS provided a sufficiently reasoned explanation to support its conclusion by emphasizing that there were no disproportionate economic impacts associated with including the areas, and that the benefits of exclusion did not outweigh the benefits of inclusion. It therefore upheld the critical habitat designation and dismissed the suit.