Following the designation of the West Coast coho salmon as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and the ensuing designation of the Klamath River system in the Pacific Northwest as critical habitat for the species, the indigenous Karuk Tribe challenged the U.S. Forest Service’s mining permit approval practices in Karuk Tribe of California v. U.S. Forest Service. Under Section 7 of the ESA, an agency must consult with one of two outside resources in instances where the agency’s actions “may affect” an endangered population. In reversing the district court’s denial of summary judgment on the Tribe’s ESA claim, the Ninth Circuit held that the Forest Service’s approval of mining applications without consultation constituted discretionary agency action that may affect the region’s coho salmon population. This Comment argues that this broad interpretation of agency action accurately reflects Section 7’s requirements. Furthermore, because this standard is clear, courts should apply this broad interpretation in future cases to avoid inconsistency and protect the environment in accord with congressional intent.
Endangered Precedent: Interpreting Agency Action and the Duty to Consult Under Section 7 of the ESA in Light of Karuk,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.
E. Supp. 85