On August 15, 2017, the White House issued Executive Order 13,807, which cited the need to improve domestic infrastructure as the basis for its mandate to cap the amount of time federal agencies may spend preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for certain major infrastructure projects. This development followed Executive Order 13,766, which called for streamlining and expediting the NEPA process for infrastructure projects, particularly those deemed to be of “high priority” to the nation.
Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the gray wolf was systematically eradicated from most of the lower forty-eight states. A population of hundreds of thousands was whittled down to a few hundred, concentrated only in the woods of Minnesota and Isle Royale, Michigan. The wolf has rebounded, thanks to robust federal protection. But full recovery remains elusive—in part because of the federal government’s narrow expectations for recovery.
In Murr v. Wisconsin, the U.S. Supreme Court confronted the “denominator problem” that arises when defining the baseline unit of property for assessing a regulatory taking. That problem was particularly complex in light of Wisconsin’s merger provision, an increasingly common zoning tool that treats adjacent, commonly owned lots as a single, merged property barred from separate sale or development. Despite the Court's already "muddled" regulatory takings jurisprudence, the Court adopted yet another multifactor test to determine the denominator in the context of the Murrs’ two, adjacent waterfront lots.
Wolves are controversial carnivores whose management generates intense debate. That debate, and the response from wolf managers, often fails to adequately account for rural communities’ fears about wolves. These fears, if ignored, can lead to the frustration of conservation objectives and a disrespect for the law itself. In order to avoid these consequences, nongovernmental organizations and governments involved in wolf management must survey rural communities and implement wolf management strategies that account for rural concerns while honoring conservation objectives.