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Section 7 Technical Assistance

Step-by-Step Instructions - Step 3

 

Step 3. Determine whether listed or proposed species or designated or proposed critical habitat may be adversely affected.

 

In Step 2, you determined that a species or critical habitat may be exposed and may respond in some way to the proposed action or the environmental changes likely to result from the proposed action. The next step is describing the manner in which the listed resources will respond. Specifically, you are assessing whether the species/critical habitat is "not likely to be adversely affected" or "likely to be adversely affected." Consider the following in making your finding:

 

A. When you are basing your determination on effects to the species' habitat rather than to the species itself, you need to conduct a two-part assessment: (1) determine how the habitat will respond to the proposed action (for example, changes in habitat quality, quantity, availability or distribution), and (2) assess how the species is expected to respond to these habitat changes.

 

B. Critical habitat analyses focus on how the proposed action will affect the constituent elements of the critical habitat.

 

C. An action warrants a "may affect, not likely to be adversely affected" finding when its effects are wholly beneficial, insignificant or discountable. Note: The threshold for a "likely to adversely affect" determination is an adverse effect to one or more individuals. Also, adverse effect is not synonymous with the term "take." Adverse effects can occur even if take is unlikely.

  • If the listed resource is likely to respond in only a beneficial manner, conclude "not likely to adversely affect" and submit your finding and supporting rationale to the appropriate ES Field Office and request concurrence.
  • If the listed resource is likely to respond in a negative manner but such responses are expected to be insignificant, conclude "not likely to adversely affect" and submit your finding and supporting rationale to the appropriate ES Field Office and request concurrence.
  • If the listed resource is likely to respond in a negative manner but the likelihood of either exposure or such a response is discountable, then conclude "not likely to adversely affect" and submit your finding and supporting rationale to the appropriate ES Field Office and request concurrence.

You may submit your request electronically to the ES Field Office nearest your project area. For your assistance, an example letter and template are provided.

Template (Word) - Example Letter (PDF)

 

D. If you cannot conclude that the response will be wholly beneficial, insignificant, or discountable, check the Species-Specific Section 7 Guidance and Conservation Measures to determine whether there any measures that may be implemented to avoid or minimize the negative effects.

  • If you modify your proposed action to include conservation measures to implement, assess how exposure and response are anticipated to change. Repeat Step 3 and document your conclusion, as appropriate. Be sure to identify the specific conservation measures you intend to incorporate and their associated biological consequences.

E. If you cannot conclude that the response will be wholly beneficial or insignificant, or that the exposure or response is discountable, contact the appropriate ES Field Office for assistance.


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Last updated: June 10, 2014