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S7 Consultation Technical Assistance
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) mandates all Federal departments and agencies to conserve listed species and to utilize their authorities in furtherance of the purposes of the ESA. The ESA provides specific mechanisms to achieve its purposes and Section 7 is one of those. Section 7 requires that Federal agencies develop a conservation program for listed species (i.e., Section 7(a)(1)) and that they avoid actions that will further harm species and their critical habitat (i.e., Section 7(a)(2)). The section 7 consultation process described here applies to the second requirement - Section 7(a)(2).
Section 7(a)(2) Mandate
Section 7(a)(2) directs all Federal agencies to insure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry-out does not jeopardize the continued existence of an endangered or threatened species or designated or proposed critical habitat (collectively, referred to as protected resources). The implementing regulations, 50 CFR 402, specify how Federal agencies are to fulfill their section 7 consultation requirements.
Section 7(a)(2) Responsibilities
Under the implementing regulations (50 CFR 402), Federal agencies must review their actions and determine whether the action may affect federally listed and proposed species or proposed or designated critical habitat. To accomplish this, Federal agencies must request from the Service a list of species and critical habitat that may be in the project area or they can request our concurrence with their species list. The Service must respond to either request within 30 days.
Once a species list is obtained or verified as accurate, Federal agencies need to determine whether their actions may affect any of those species or their critical habitat. If no species or their critical habitat are affected, no further consultation is required. If they may be affected, consultation with the Service is required. This consultation will conclude either informally with written concurrence from the Service or through formal consultation with a biological opinion provided to the Federal agency.
Last updated: October 24, 2012