For FHWA-funded projects, Local Programs and FHWA are the only entities that have the authority to initiate Section 7 consultation with the Services:
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife (USFWS)
- National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
Local Programs can provide assistance in the development of local-agency ESA materials.
Steps in the Section 7 Consultations Process
FHWA and Local Programs will coordinate all communications with the Services and will represent the interests of the local agency. Local agencies cannot initiate consultations with the Services.
To initiate a Section 7 Consultation:
- Biological Assessment (BA) is prepared by the local agency
Tip: The WSDOT BA Outline (.doc 279kb)is recommended by Local Programs for local agencies to use when preparing ESA documents. This outline was developed alongside the Services to provide a standard format for BAs.
- Next, the local agency contacts the Region Local Programs Engineer.
- Local Programs then coordinates a review by a WSDOT ESA biologist. This review may take up to 30 days.
- Local agency makes the recommended edits
- BA is sent back to Local Programs
- Local Programs or FHWA submits the BA to the Services for consultation.
- The Services assigns the project to a biologist to coordinate the consultation and to prepare either a Letter of Concurrence (LOC) or a Biological Opinion (BO).
Tool for Biological Assessment Reviews
Local Programs encourages local agencies to use FHWA's Web-based ESA Consultation Tool, which facilitates expedited internal and external reviews of BAs. This tool establishes a website for each project, and permits "team members" to review and, in some cases, edit drafts of the BA. It also permits Local Programs and FHWA to share BAs and other project information electronically with the Services.
More ESA Resources