With this vital listing under legal attack by the building industry, conservation groups are mounting a defense.

In 1993, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the California gnatcatcher as threatened. This small bird well represented the coastal sage ecosystem whose last remnants were being torn up by massive sprawl development. 

The listing catalyzed multiple species conservation plans that have resolved many economic conflicts and protected a wide array of species. The listing remains essential in the many locations without habitat plans. And even in those areas with plans, it provides compelling reasons to keep the plans going and successful.

The building industry has ceaselessly attacked the listing, such as by petitioning to delist the gnatcatcher on the grounds that it is not actually as subspecies. Though the validity of the subspecies has been repeatedly confirmed by expert panels, the building industry sued the Service in November 2017 over its refusal to delist.

Represented by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), EHL and other groups file motions to “intervene” and to thus be in a position to defend the listing in court. We commend NRDC – which was one of original petitioners to list the gnatcatcher – for its continued commitment to the cause.