Project Planning and Endangered Species Act Guidance

The purposes of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are to provide a means for conserving the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend and a program for the conservation of such species.  The ESA addresses these purposes for both Federal (section 7) and non-Federal (section 10) projects.  Anyone who is conducting otherwise-lawful activities that will result in the "incidental take” of a listed wildlife species needs a permit.  If a project is Federally funded, authorized, or carried out by a federal agency, the permitting process is conducted through section 7 consultation.  Otherwise, the habitat conservation plan process is the means for a non-federal entity or individual to seek authorization for this type of "take." 

Section 7 Section 7
Section 7 Consultation The Endangered Species Act (ESA) directs all Federal agencies to work to conserve endangered and threatened species and to use their authorities to further the purposes of the Act. Section 7 of the Act, called "Interagency Cooperation," is the mechanism by which Federal agencies ensure the actions they take, including those they fund or authorize, do not jeopardize the existence of any listed species.

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of the ESA directs all Federal agencies to participate in conserving endangered and threatened species. Section 7(a)(1) of the ESA charges Federal agencies to aid in the conservation of listed species.  Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA requires Federal agencies to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to ensure that actions they fund, authorize, permit, or otherwise carry out will not jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or adversely modify designated critical habitats.  Federal agencies are not required to contact the Service if a proposed action will have no effect on listed species, or if no species are present in the action area action area
All areas to be affected directly or indirectly by the federal action and not merely the immediate area involved in the action.

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However, Federal agencies must initiate consultation with the Service if a proposed action may affect one or more listed species.  Please visit the Service’s national page for more details on section 7:

Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA provides for partnerships with non-federal parties to conserve the ecosystems upon which listed species depend, ultimately contributing to their recovery.  This is done through Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs), which are planning documents required as part of an application for an incidental take permit.  The ESA prohibits the "take" of listed species through harm or habitat destruction.  In amendments to the ESA passed in 1982, Congress authorized the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (through the Secretary of the Interior) to issue permits for the "incidental take" of endangered and threatened wildlife species.  Thus, permit holders can proceed with activities that are legal in all other respects, but that results in the "incidental" taking of a listed species.  HCPs are planning documents required as part of an application for an incidental take permit.  They describe the anticipated effects of the proposed taking; how those impacts will be minimized, or mitigated; and how the HCP is to be funded.  HCPs can apply to both listed and non-listed species, including those that are candidates or have been proposed for listing.  Conserving species before they are in danger of extinction or are likely to become so can also provide early benefits and prevent the need for listing.  Please visit the Service’s national page for more details on section 10 and HCPs:

Contact for Section 7 Consultations and HCPs:

Christina Williams
Division Supervisor
1505 Ferguson Ln
Austin, Texas 78754