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Non-Esa Wildlife Management Issues Affecting Mineral Development Projects

Scott W. Hardt, Resources Development, Environmental Land Management, and Permitting (1996)

Wildlife issues permeate nearly every aspect of environmental permitting for mineral development projects. Whether it be permitting requirements associated with land disturbance, water quantity or quality, or air quality, wildlife issues may be implicated.1 As federal and state regulatory agencies increasingly take a more holistic approach to managing natural resources and environmental impacts under the rubric of ecosystem management, it has become superfluous to attempt to distinguish a body of wildlife management law that is independent of other environmental protection laws. Instead, wildlife protection is a universal theme that runs through the numerous environmental and land-use laws that govern mineral development activities. Consequently, rather than attempt to present a checklist of the regulatory requirements that address wildlife issues, this paper outlines the overall regulatory framework, outside of the ESA, within which wildlife issues are addressed by agencies responsible for permitting and managing mineral exploration and development projects. Focusing on mineral development activities on federal lands, this paper seeks to identify the agencies responsible for addressing wildlife issues, and explores both the extent of agency authority to manage mineral exploration and development activities to protect wildlife and the breadth of discretion the responsible agenc