PARTNER CENTRAL - ENVIRONMENTAL
Biological Resources - ESA consultation process
Actions that may adversely affect listed (threatened or endangered) species or their habitats are regulated under the terms of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Under the terms of the ESA, actions that may impact listed species or their habitats require a consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and / or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Any action that may impact federally managed marine species (such as fish and marine mammals) also require a consultation with NMFS.
The initial phase of a consultation is the preparation of a biological assessment (BA) that details the species and habitats in the area where the proposed action will occur. The OTIA III BA includes detailed information about affected species and habitats, proposed actions and their potential effects, and how effects on these species and habitats would be avoided or mitigated.
While a BA is required for listed species, it should also include species that have been proposed for listed status under the ESA. For longer term projects, such as the OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program, the consultation often includes proposed species. If a proposed species were to be reclassified as listed while work was in progress, permitting for the project would have to be reinitiated. Including proposed species in the consultation protects the project against such delays.
On the basis of this BA, USFWS and (if marine species are involved) NMFS issue a biological opinion (BO) that specifies whether and under what conditions the proposed actions can take place. The BO may also specify the incidental take of various species allowed.
Note that a consultation is specific to an identified suite of activities. The OTIA III consultation applies only to OTIA III program activities.
How do I meet the requirements of the BA / BO for OTIA III projects?
The contractor will complete a Pre-Construction Assessment (PCA) that details project activities and how applicable performance standards shall be met. Oregon Bridge Delivery Partners (OBDP) will review the PCA, working with the contractor as needed, to make an initial finding of probable compliance. OBDP will then work with the Contractor to transmit the PCA to the appropriate agencies, who will review it and issue the required permits or approvals. If bridge activities involve impacts on habitats or species covered under the OTIA III BA / BO, project personnel should consult with OBDP to ensure that the terms and conditions of the BO are met. Note the following:
- The OTIA III consultation is programmatic. Accordingly, incidental take limits specified in the BO are for the OTIA III program as a whole.
- OBDP is tracking take for the OTIA III bridge program. Consult with OBDP before completing any bridge design that might result in incidental take. Take limits for individual bridge sites must be determined in cooperation with OBDP.
- The OTIA III consultation applies only to OTIA III program activities. Activities that are not part of the OTIA III program are not covered by the OTIA III BO, even if they occur within the area of potential impact (API) of an OTIA III bridge and comply with the OTIA III environmental performance standards.
- The OTIA III consultation applies only to those bridges listed in the BA.
- The Compensatory Mitigation performance standard should be reviewed carefully when planning activities that must meet the requirements of the BO.
- The BO is drafted to provide flexibility, where possible, for contractors attempting to meet performance standards. For those situations where performance standards cannot be met, consult Section 2.5 Variances of the BO.
Does the OTIA III bridge consultation cover the Oregon Endangered Species Act?
Yes, with certain qualifications (see the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) discussion, below). The ODFW contributed to the OTIA III bridge consultation. However, it is important to note no take statement has been issued for those species that are covered by the Oregon ESA but not by the federal ESA. If a project is anticipated to harm, harass, injure, or otherwise result in a take of one or more species covered only by the Oregon ESA, then additional coordination with ODFW and OBDP will be necessary.
The following fish and wildlife species are currently listed as threatened or endangered under the Oregon ESA but not under the federal ESA.
- Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon
- Aleutian Canada Goose
- American Peregrine Falcon
- Arctic Peregrine Falcon
- Kit Fox
- Gray Whale
- Washington Ground Squirrel
For more information on species that have Oregon and / or federal status, refer to one of the following sites:
- State and Federal listed threatened and endangered species
- Pacific Biodiversity Institute's State and Federal T & E species list for Oregon.
Are ODA regulatory requirements addressed by the OTIA III consultation?
No. There are no ODA programmatic permits in place for OTIA III. Compliance with ODA regulatory requirements (i.e., actions that impact ODA-listed rare plants or noxious weeds) must be addressed separately.
Where can I find more information about the consultation process?
Additional information on the consultation process can be found at the following sites: