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MGKF attorneys have counseled numerous clients through the maze of laws, regulations and policies that protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats. At the federal level, the Endangered Species Act protects listed threatened and endangered species and their habitats from a "taking," which includes killing, harassing, and harming. States have enacted analogous laws that typically protect a greater number of state-listed species. Potential impacts to threatened and endangered species are becoming increasingly commonplace as real estate development infringes on their habitats and information regarding these habitats becomes more defined and accessible.

Working with outside consultants who specialize in threatened and endangered species, the firm has counseled developers and other clients on regulatory requirements involving a number of threatened and endangered species. These have included, for example, the bald eagle (formerly a federally threatened species, now separately protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act as well as state laws), bog turtle (federally threatened), Indiana bat (federally threatened), red-bellied turtle (Pennsylvania threatened), and swamp pink (New Jersey threatened plant). In handling these matters, we have successfully prepared agreements and permit conditions with the applicable resource agencies that have allowed our clients' projects to proceed while doing so in a manner protective of the species and their habitat. We maintain constructive relationships with the resource agencies, keep abreast of changes to their policies, and have jointly presented with agency staff at seminars.

©2006 Photo by Cie Stroud

Representative endangered species matters in which the firm has been involved include the following:

  • MGKF attorneys counseled a regional homebuilder through the regulatory process to allow construction of a residential subdivision on property near the nesting tree of a pair of bald eagles. Working with the client's ornithologist and civil engineers, we negotiated approval of a site plan that provided appropriate forested buffers and open space to mitigate adverse impacts to the bald eagles while preserving the lots on the plan. Approval of the site plan was subject to intense scrutiny by a neighborhood group that opposed the project.
  • The firm coordinated clearances regarding the potential for bog turtles to be located at the site of a large residential development in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
  • Working with the client's consultant, we successfully argued to the resource agencies that the "discovery" of a turtle found dead on a road near our client's project site was insufficient identification to support a finding that bog turtles inhabited the site.
  • MGKF drafted proposed conditions to permits that were thereafter issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection providing protection to potential bog turtle habitat and allowing a project to move forward without major redesign.

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