Section 7 ESA consultation is required for projects to identify whether any proposed or listed species are located within a given area of a proposed action. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) requires project review information to meet the requirements of Section 7(c) of the Endangered Species Act (EA) of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Potential direct, indirect, and cumulative effects to federally lusted species or their critical habitat must be considered during the evaluation. Migratory birds must also be considered during these evaluations under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). Non-federal type projects are not subject to Section 7, however, Section 9 of the Act may prohibit certain activities that may affect federally listed species. For an evaluation and consultation of your project please contact us or request a quote today. See additional services here.
According to the USFWS website (www.fws.gov) the following provides a brief description of Section 7 ESA Consultation for informal and formal consultations:
Informal Section 7 ESA Consultation
Under Section 7, Federal agencies must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) when any action the agency carries out, funds, or authorizes (such as through a permit) may affect a listed endangered or threatened species. This process usually begins as informal consultation. A Federal agency, in the early stages of project planning, approaches the Service and requests informal consultation. Discussions between the two agencies may include what types of listed species may occur in the proposed action area, and what effect the proposed action may have on those species.
If the Federal agency, after discussions with the Service, determines that the proposed action is not likely to affect any listed species in the project area, and if the Service concurs, the informal consultation is complete and the proposed project moves ahead. If it appears that the agency’s action may affect a listed species, that agency may then prepare a biological assessment to assist in its determination of the project’s effect on a species.
Formal Section 7 ESA Consultation and the Biological Opinion
When a Federal agency determines, through a biological assessment or other review, that its action is likely to adversely affect a listed species, the agency submits to the Service a request for formal consultation. During formal consultation, the Service and the agency share information about the proposed project and the species likely to be affected. Formal consultation may last up to 90 days, after which the Service will prepare a biological opinion on whether the proposed activity will jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species. The Service has 45 days after completion of formal consultation to write the opinion.
In making a determination on whether an action will result in jeopardy, the Service begins by looking at the current status of the species, or “baseline.” Added to the baseline are the various effects – direct, indirect, interrelated, and interdependent – of the proposed Federal action. The Service also examines the cumulative effects of other non-Federal actions that may occur in the action area, including state, tribal, local, or private activities that are reasonably certain to occur in the project area.