The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed by Congress in 1973 to protect and recover at risk species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.  In 1984, California followed when the Legislature passed the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), the provisions of which were designed to mirror the ESA.

Both Federal and State ESAs offer special protections to wildlife and plants deemed in danger of extinction by both the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW).  At times, those protections can prevent the development of rural economies through restrictions on critical habitat that slow or halt recreational use and development.  In recent years, the USFWS has proposed or adopted several amendments to the ESA changing the way critical habitat designations are defined and analyzed.

RCRC has been actively engaged in the rulemaking process which is intended to list specific species as endangered including the northern spotted owl, yellow-legged frog, Yosemite toad, and west coast distinct population of fisher.  RCRC also regularly works to ensure that proposed changes to critical habitat regulations will have minimal impact on development and tourism in rural communities.

Staff:  Mary-Ann Warmerdam and Staci Heaton