Endangered Species Act Compliance
DEC’s biologists evaluate state and federal databases and recent aerial imagery to assess the likelihood that state or federally-listed plants or wildlife may occupy the project area at any time of year. As appropriate, DEC’s biologists will conduct potential listed or sensitive species habitat assessments. Our biologists will document vegetation communities, onsite and adjacent disturbances, land management practices, local and regional connections to occupied habitat, trapping/sighting history, and site hydrology to complete an assessment of species’ project site use.
Where site conditions and species’ range justify, DEC prepares Habitat Disqualification requests for submittal to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to gain written concurrence that, despite the presence of one or more conditions that might suggest the project may affect a listed species, overall site conditions disqualify the location as suitable listed species habitat. DEC works closely with FWS staff to ensure that up-to-date trapping and observation data is incorporated and the written concurrence is issued quickly.
ESA Section 7 Consultations
Where projects may adversely affect listed species, informal and formal consultations with FWS staff become necessary to determine means to minimize project effects to a level of “no effect” or, “may affect, no adverse effect.” Without such minimization, a formal consultation pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act is necessary. DEC staff understands the diverse options for consulting on listed species and will discuss the best project-specific options with the client and FWS staff. These options may include; project redesign, revised construction techniques, project rescheduling, habitat restoration or creation, mitigation bank credit purchase, or other agreed upon mitigation efforts. DEC staff work closely with the client and FWS staff to develop Reasonable and Prudent Measures for the Biological Opinion that will satisfy ESA regulatory standards for Section 7 Consultations while still allowing the project to be a success.