Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), which protects endangered and threatened species and their habitats, can delay or prevent real estate development that might harm a protected species or its habitat.

Political Advocacy

Current Legislation/Regulation

None at this time


In-Depth

Find NAR's letters, testimonies, bill updates, and more on the NAR Federal Issues Tracker


Legislative Contact(s):

Russell Riggs,
rriggs@realtors.org
202-383-1259

Ken Wingert,
kwingert@realtors.org
202-383-1196

Regulatory Contact(s):

Russell Riggs,
rriggs@realtors.org
202-383-1259

What is the fundamental issue?

The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), which protects endangered and threatened species and their habitats, can delay or prevent real estate development that might harm a protected species or its habitat.

I am a real estate professional. What does this mean for my business?

The ESA adds regulatory costs and burdens to property and economic development. It may also be a violation of the 5th Amendment by limiting (taking) the use of property through regulation without compensating the property owner.

NAR Policy:

NAR supports reform to the Endangered Species Act that:

  • Recognizes economic impacts to the community when designating and recovering endangered species and habitat,
  • Provides market-based incentives to encourage species protection, and
  • Compensates private property owners when they have been deprived of the economic value of their property.

Legislative/Regulatory Status/Outlook

While not anticipating a comprehensive ESA reform legislative effort in 2017, NAR continues to pursue "rifle shot" opportunities as they arise.  In the meantime, NAR has commented on an unprecedented increase in listed species under the ESA as well as the proposed review of hundreds of species in a shortened timeframe, pursuant to a court settlment.  NAR urges greater transparency and outreach by the Administration in its consideration of this staggering number of potential listings.

In a landmark decision, in the fall of  2015, the Department of Interior (DOI) decided not to list the Greatrer Sage Grouse as endangered. DOI officials believe that the unprecedented efforts and partnerships created to protect critical sage grouse habitat is sufficient to adequatley protect and grow the species.  However, in a related action, the DOI cordoned off nearly 10 million of public lands to protect additional sage grouse hebitat.  NAR does not support this action, as these public lands generate revenue through activities such as grazing and timbering and would negatively impact the economies of communities adjacent to the lands. NAR commented on this unprecedented withdrawal of public lands.

In March of 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finalized a rule that will change the critical habitat designations process.  This rule provides the FWS with more authority to designate critical habitat and is not required to incorporate an economic impact analysis into the decision-making process. 

NAR Committee:

Land Use, Property Rights and Environment Committee

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