Endangered Species & Wildlife Issues

Endangered species, special status species, and other wildlife issues often arise in conjunction with private development projects, public infrastructure projects, and other real estate matters, such as preparation of conservation easements.  Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell represents clients on all sides of these complex issues.  Our attorneys have counseled clients, advocated on their behalf to federal and state agencies, and litigated when necessary to challenge adverse agency decisions.  Our attorneys have also represented environmental, conservation, and citizen groups seeking to enhance wildlife protection from harmful development and industrial activities.

We have extensive experience working with the federal agencies responsible for implementing the statutory schemes, including the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Land Management, and their state counterparts.

Representative Experience

  • Represent clients in reviewing and commenting on federal and state permits regarding compliance with the Endangered Species Act and other wildlife laws.
  • Assist airports seeking approvals for new construction or runway expansion within constraints imposed by endangered or special status species.
  • Counseled and litigated on behalf of a municipality opposing a new highway project that would have destroyed critical habitat for a listed species.
  • Counseled a county regarding implementation and amendment of a Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
  • Counseled developers and project proponents on compliance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) and negotiated MBTA/BGEPA protocols with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Negotiated with federal agencies on behalf of a client to oppose designation of expanded habitat protections in already degraded areas needed for critical public infrastructure development.
  • Worked with clients to design conservation easements to provide adequate protection for endangered or special status species.
  • Represented a client in negotiations for, and subsequent litigation over, a federal land use permit requiring mitigation measures for impacts on protected wildlife and plant species.
  • Represented a special trust established to protect the endangered whooping crane in administrative litigation and original jurisdiction litigation before the Supreme Court to protect river flows for critical habitat.
  • Represented a coalition of wildlife and sportsperson groups in advocating for increased protections for wildlife and high-priority habitat areas from oil and gas development before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
  • Provided strategic counsel for a community group seeking to protect sensitive elk habitat from increased habitat fragmentation caused by piecemeal trail development.
  • Firm attorney provided permitting strategy for protected species issues associated with wind energy developments.

Representative Cases

National Wildlife Federation v. Army Corps of Engineers, 170 F. Supp. 3d 6 (D.D.C. 2016) Challenged  Corps’ issuance of Nationwide Permit 13 for bank stabilization structures in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Smith, 110 F.3d 724 (10th Cir. 1997). Challenged scope of agency’s conservation and recovery duties under the Endangered Species Act.

Catron County Bd. Of Comm’rs, N.M. v. Babbitt, 75 F.3d 1429 (10th Cir. 1996). Represented amicus in support of government’s critical habitat designation.

Platte River Whooping Crane Critical Habitat Maintenance Trust v. F.E.R.C., 876 F.2d 109 (D.C. Cir. 1989).  Challenged hydropower license under Endangered Species Act.

News & Publications


Migratory Bird Treaty Act: Where Are We Now?
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation