1979: Whooping Cranes Exemption Cases

“In 1976 two lawsuits were filed, Nebraska v. REA and Nebraska v. Ray, both alleging a failure to comply with the ESA. The Platte River in Nebraska is a major resting site in the whooping crane migrations. FWS determined that the construction of Grayrocks Dam and Reservoir in Wyoming would have jeopardized the downstream habitat of the whooping cranes, and their survival. Federal District Court found that this construction was in violation of the ESA.”

“During the processing of these two lawsuits and after this court decision, in 1978 the amendment was added to the ESA which contained the exemption process. An exemption was applied for in the building of the dam and reservoir.”

“After the exemption process was through, in early 1979, the Endangered Species Committee (ESC) granted an exemption for Grayrocks Dam and Reservoir by unanimous vote. But the ESC included many mitigation measures, including limiting maximum annual water use, the release of water at critical times of year so impact on cranes is minimal, and a trust fund for habitat maintenance.


USDA Forest Service.“Spotted Owl Background Information.” USDA Forest Service, Public Affairs Office; June 15, 1990