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Endangered Species Act - Compliance in Conservation Planning

Endangered Species Act - Compliance in Conservation Planning

The National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA requires Federal agencies to be accountable to the public for the environmental impacts of their actions.   The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has written regulations that establish the procedures NRCS and other Federal agencies must follow to meet NEPA requirements. These regulations require Federal agencies to follow a systematic process when a Federal action is proposed.   Federally listed threatened and endangered species (T&E species), as well as state rare, T&E species and species of concern, fall in one of several categories NRCS must evaluate for impacts.  To meet the requirements of NEPA and NRCS policy, NRCS planners will conduct an Environmental Evaluation to determine the potential effects of alternative solutions to resource problems for all planning activities and document the results of the evaluation on form NRCS-CPA-52, "Environmental Evaluation Worksheet" or State equivalent, including the appropriate finding.

Northeastern Bulrush

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dwarf Wedgemussel
Northeastern Bulrush (Scirpus ancistrochaetus)

Dwarf Wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon)

In addition to NEPA, the NRCS has both the authority and the obligation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect and conserve plant and animal species listed or proposed for listing as endangered or threatened.  Section 7(a)(1) of the ESA directs other Federal agencies to utilize their authorities to carry out programs for the conservation and recovery of federally listed threatened or endangered species.  Section 7a(2) of the ESA requires NRCS, in consultation with and with the assistance of the Secretary of the Interior, to insure that its agency actions and activities do not jeopardize the continued existence of threatened and endangered species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of the species' critical habitat.

The Vermont NRCS has undertaken a programmatic consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to evaluate potential effects of conservation practices within the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG).  Conservation Practices are the NRCS' primary method for implementing conservation measures on the ground either through financial or technical assistance.  Practices within the FOTG were evaluated by the FWS and NRCS and determined to have no effect, were not likely to adversely affect, might have a potential adverse effect, or a potential beneficial effect.  Steps were identified to avoid adverse effects of conservation practices through certain practice requirements (e.g. timing) or other measures identified through the informal consultation process.  The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Nongame and Natural Heritage Program personnel were instrumental in this consultation process including refining the Species Town List, habitats, and identification of practice measures to avoid adverse effects.

The result of this consultation is an efficient, streamlined process that meets NRCS requirements under ESA as well as provides an opportunity for further conservation of listed species.  The FWS has concurred that our agreed to process, outlined in linked documents below, will have “no effect” or are “not likely to adversely affect” federally listed species in Vermont.  When and if there are adverse effects that cannot be avoided, a formal consultation will be undertaken and will not be considered as part of this "not likely to adversely affect" determination by the FWS.

Indiana Bats

Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)

       

Partner Links

 

Northeast Region Endangered Species Office - USFWS

Nongame & Natural Heritage Program - VTFWD


The following document requires  Adobe Acrobat

Endangered Species Act Procedural Guidance

Species Town List - Federal T&E

NRCS Practice Effects on Threatened and Endangered Species

CPA52b_VT   - Request for T&E Review

CPA-52c_VT  - Authorization for Release of Plan

USFWS Concurrence Letter

Endangered Species Contact List

Habitat Conservation Plans

National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines


Slideshow: NRCS training - October 25, 2007  (697 kb)

 

Contact:  Toby.Alexander@vt.usda.gov

 

Last Modified: December 21, 2011