A controversial decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to set aside protected areas known as “critical habitat” for eight imperiled plant species has been challenged by a federal judge in California. The ruling by Judge Irma Gonzalez was greeted triumphantly by environmentalists, although it merely orders the USFWS to reconsidered its position within three years, rather than overturning the agency’s decision outright. Still, Geoff Hickcox, a lawyer representing the Center for Biological Diversity, one of two organizations to sue the Department of the Interior for protection for the eight species, said the ruling was a good sign: “They know that if they make a ‘not prudent’ decision again without any additional information, they’ll just land back in court. … We’ve got them to go back and reconsider the rules, which they would not have done otherwise.”