General IPaC Questions:
How long has IPaC been around? While the USFWS has been developing the concept the IPaC since the mid-1990’s, system develop began in earnest in 2006. The early phases of IPaC began coming on-line in limited areas during the later part of 2007.
IPaC Information Output and Use Questions:
Does IPaC offer the same information as a USFWS office does? The information offered by IPaC is actually generated by USFWS offices, however, it is available to project proponents when they need it rather than when USFWS personnel are available. This should improve the efficiency of project planning, as project proponents will have the information they need available to them during the earliest stages of project planning.
Is IPaC for section 7 or section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA)? IPaC is a tool to assist project proponents in increasing the compatibility of their activities with the conservation of USFWS trust resources. It is meant to assist in the implementation of all activities regardless of whether they will be implemented through sections 7 or 10 of the ESA. Indeed, the recommendations provided by IPaC will often be helpful even if the project will be implemented outside of the ESA arena.
Do I still need to contact a USFWS office if I use IPaC? While IPaC will provide project proponents with valuable information, in many cases it will still be necessary to contact USFWS offices directly. For example, while IPaC may provide project design recommendations (i.e., Conservation measures) that are likely to lessen the potential impacts of proposed activities, in most cases it will still be necessary to contact the USFWS to complete section 7 consultation or to obtain any needed section 10 permits. On the other hand, "Official" species-lists obtained through IPaC are considered to be the USFWS’ official responses. As directed by IPaC, these responses may be printed out and kept on hand in the project proponents’ administrative record. The need to contact USFWS offices directly is anticipated to decline as the IPaC system is developed in future phases.
What does it mean if I get no "hits" on IPaC? Do I still need to coordinate with the USFWS? In most cases if the IPaC system responds that no listed-species or designated critical habitat are in the proposed project planning area, it is not necessary to contact the local USFWS office regarding listed species issues unless specified otherwise. However, there are two factors to be aware of: (1) if you are aware of unusual circumstances that you believe may change the type or extent of potential effects, you should contact your local USFWS office. For example, you may be proposing a project that will result in sedimentation being deposited in a moving water body that will carry effects many miles from the project-site. While in many cases this potential will be accounted for, unless otherwise specified, it would be recommended that you contact the local USFWS office to confirm these results; (2) there may still be the need to contact the local USFWS office to fulfill the requirements of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act. For example, your proposed project may have anticipated impacts to wetland habitats or migratory birds. Future phases of IPaC will address such impacts. In addition, it is important to recognize that at this time IPaC does not address potential impacts to other Federal, State, and local resources that may require coordination with non-USFWS entities. As a general rule-of-thumb, if in doubt, use the information you receive from the IPaC system for planning purposes and contact the appropriate local offices to ensure that you have a complete understanding of the information you receive. The IPaC system will provide you with the appropriate USFWS contacts.
What is the "shelf life" of my IPaC report? As is the case with species-lists obtained directly from local USFWS offices, official species-lists obtained from IPaC are valid for 90 days. After this time-period project proponents should confirm their results on IPaC as needed. There is no standard “shelf life” for conservation measures; these will be updated as new information warrants. Again, you may check your results on IPaC as appropriate.
Conservation Measure Questions:
Do I have to implement all of the conservation measures (CMs) on my IPaC report? CM reports contain the local USFWS’ recommendations for design characteristics that will avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate potential impacts to USFWS trust resources. These recommendations are offered to assist in project planning. For listed species, CMs are based on anticipated impacts to species’ conservation. While these recommendations are designed to increase compatibility between species’ conservation and proposed projects, there are often multiple ways to achieve such results. When developing CMs the USFWS has worked with various project proponents in an attempt to ensure recommendations will likely be compatible with the needs of the typical project. To reduce potential impacts on listed species and the environment, as well as to streamline any future section 7 or section 10 consultations that may be needed, we recommend that as many of the CMs as possible be incorporated. However, if there are CMs that for some reason are not practical, we recommend several options. First, check on IPaC to determine if there are alternate CMs. At times the local USFWS office will have anticipated project proponent’s difficulties with certain CMs. In these situations they may have developed alternative methods of achieving the same conservation result. If IPaC does not contain alternative CMs, we recommend that you contact the local USFWS office with a list of the CMs that you are having difficulty with. This will allow the local office to assist you in developing alternative methods for achieving the desired results. A primary goal of this process is to allow project proponents to obtain the bulk of the design information needed on their own, thus freeing up the time of local USFWS staff to focus on assisting people with issues that require approaches that are more tailored to their specific situations. It is important to recognize that while not required, CMs have been developed to assist project proponents in meeting their legal requirements as quickly and easily as possible, however, at times there is no substitute for direct communication. Therefore, you should always contact the local USFWS office if you are uncertain as to the best course of action. The intent of IPaC is to make natural resource information more accessible to project proponents when they need it, not to cut-off contact between project proponents and local USFWS personnel.
If I implement the CMs on my IPaC report, do I still need to consult with the USFWS? In most cases project proponents will still need to consult with local USFWS offices. Exceptions include situations where IPaC specifically identifies that no such need exists. However, even if additional consultation is required, it is anticipated that if the IPaC recommendations are incorporated the consultation process will be streamlined. In the future IPaC will be used to deliver an increasing number of programmatic Section 7 consultations. When this is the case, the system will provide specific procedures that can be followed to either further reduce or potentially eliminate the need for addition consultation.
If I implement the CMs on my IPaC report, can I be certain that this will fulfill all potential design requirements? Because environmental circumstance across the landscape vary widely, it is not possible for the USFWS to ensure that CMs presented on IPaC will encompass the full scope of what is needed. Likewise, there will be times when some of the recommended CMs are not necessary. To address the later situation, the USFWS has attempted to create a transparent system that identifies conservation objectives for each CM. The hope is to provide sufficient information for project proponents to determine if they have a “non-typical” project that may not involve all of the impacts anticipated with the “typical” project. However, it is anticipated that even if it is determined that additional CMs are needed, the need for project modifications will be greatly reduced.
IPaC doesn't have my project type - does that mean that there are no CMs available to help me design my project? IPaC contains “project type” categories because some CMs are tailored for specific techniques or machinery commonly associated with different project types. Each “project type” has a series of “project activity” categories associated with it. While your project type may not yet be addressed by IPaC, it can often be useful to search the various identified project types to see if any of the identified activities are similar to those anticipated with your proposed project. For example, while you may be proposing a project that will include the development of a road and IPaC may not yet address your project type, it may contain recommended CMs for law enforcement projects that also include road building activities. In these circumstances you may find it helpful to consult the CMs identified for these project types. If you are proposing a project type not yet addressed by IPaC, we recommend that you start by selecting the project type most similar to your activity. While this may not give you the specific CMs needed for your project, it will hopefully point you in the right direction. Don’t forget, if in doubt, contact your local USFWS office.