Arctic Grayling Benefit from Work of Land Use and Natural Resources Clinic

Arctic GraylingIt is rare for a law student to have the opportunity to work on a groundbreaking Endangered Species Act case. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks valued clinic student Tom McMeans ‘16 for his exceptional work in the litigation of Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell.

Tom’s clinical placement with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks allowed him to serve with Agency Counsels Bill Schenk and Zach Zipfel to conduct research and help draft the brief in this Endangered Species Act case.

On September 2, 2016, in Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell, U.S. District Judge Haddon upheld the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision not to place the Upper Missouri River Distinct Population Segment of Arctic Grayling on the Endangered Species List. In his decision, Judge Haddon deferred to the Service’s expertise in its assessment of the science and the current and future threats to the grayling.

Also, Judge Haddon noted that the Service’s consideration and reliance on the Big Hole Valley Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) was appropriate, despite its voluntary nature. This decision reinforces the legitimacy of private conservation agreements as a tool for species conservation, and also serves as notice to private landowners that participation in conservation agreements are an effective way to avoid the federal regulations that come with a listing decision.