Project Review Resources of the Caribbean ES Field Office
The Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office offers expertise in environmental planning for projects related to energy, transportation, water supply, development, flood control, communication towers, private development, recreation, streambank and shoreline protection. We work directly with federal agencies, state and local partners on infrastructure development projects to conserve natural resources in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
We offer information on species and their habitats that help people understand the potential impacts of a proposed project on the environment, as well as information on practices that protect natural resources while streamlining the environmental review process. Our biologists can assist in developing plans that conserve, restore or enhance fish and wildlife while accomplishing the goals of the proposed project.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides a means for conserving the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend. The ESA requires that all federal agencies and federally funded projects participate in conserving these species. Specifically, section 7 (a)(1) of the ESA charges federal agencies to aid in the conservation of listed species, and section 7 (a)(2) requires the agencies, through consultation with the Service, to ensure their activities are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adversely modify designated critical habitats. applies to the management of federal lands as well as federal actions that may affect listed species, such as federal approval of private activities through the issuance of federal funding, permits, licenses, or other actions. To initiate a consultation under the Section 7 of the ESA, you must submit a project package with the established minimum requirements. Download the Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office-Project Evaluations fact sheet (below) to learn more about the requirements.
The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act requires consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the fish and wildlife agencies of States where the “waters of any stream or other body of water are proposed or authorized, permitted or licensed to be impounded, diverted … or otherwise controlled or modified” by any agency under a Federal permit or license (eg. Coast Guard permits, Corps of Engineers Section 10/404/103 permits, EPA Section 402 permits, FERC licenses, NRC power station licensing, NRCS water resource projects, etc).
Consultation is to be undertaken for the purpose of “preventing loss of and damage to wildlife resources.” Service conservation recommendations should be given equal value in the agency’s decision making process.
Consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act with the Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office
The Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office has developed the Consultation under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act with the Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office Template letter (below) that can be used as an example when submitting “may affect, but not likely to adversely affect” (NLAA) determinations as part of the section 7 process of the Endangered Species Act. Should you have any questions, please contact Marelisa Rivera, Deputy Field Supervisor at Caribbean_es@fws.gov.
Listed Species Conservation Measures
The Service has developed recommendations to assist other agencies, private organizations, and the community to avoid or minimize adverse impacts on listed species during project development actions in areas where these species may occur. These recommendations should be included in your project plan and implemented during activities. The available species conservation measures (below) are: Antillean manatee, Puerto Rican rock frog (Guajón), Puerto Rican crested toad and sea turtles.
Programmatic Biological Opinion (PBO) for the Puerto Rican boa and the Virgin Islands tree boa
The Service has developed a Programmatic Biological Opinion (PBO) for the Puerto Rican boa and the Virgin Islands tree boa (below), addressing the take of both species in the form of capture and relocation while conducting activities with federal nexus or under the jurisdiction of a Federal agency in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Proposed projects located within the range of the Puerto Rican boa or the Virgin Islands tree boa might have encounters with these species during project activities. If the proposed federal action (i.e., the Applicant’s project) contemplates the capture and relocation to remove these boas out of harm’s way during the project activities, then a take of the species would occur, which will require the federal agency to make a determination of a may affect, likely to adversely affect (MLAA) and the Federal Agency must initiate formal consultation. The Service will concur with the MLAA determination, and the Federal agency and/or the Applicant will be exempted from the take that could result from the actions described in Section 2 of the PBO, provided that they comply with the Terms and Conditions stated in Section 6.4 of the PBO (see enclosure). Please note the PBO also has reporting requirements (Section 6.5) regarding the capture and relocation of boas; these reporting requirements are mandatory and must be complied with. If the Federal agency or the Applicant does not contemplate the capture and relocation of the boas out of harm’s way, then the project activities must stop until the species leave the area on their own.
Guidance for Repair, Replacement, and Clean-up of structures in Streams and Waterways of Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands
In Puerto Rico (PR) and US Virgin Islands (USVI), flooding caused by heavy rainfall events, tropical storms, and hurricanes can damage stream crossings (bridges, culverts, low-water crossings, etc.) and in-stream structures (piers, docks, etc.), and create debris jams. Many streams in PR and USVI support an array of aquatic species, including anadromous and catadromous native fish and a suite of native shrimp. Repair and clean-up activities in streams have the potential to adversely affect these species and their habitat, causing sedimentation in areas downstream of the project and disruption of sediment transport leading to channel instability. The Service has developed the Guidance for Repair, Replacement, and Clean-up of structures in Streams and Waterways of Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands (below) with further recommendations to prevent or minimize impacts during projects that will be conducted in aquatic habitats. The guidance applies to creeks, rivers, and tidally-influenced waters in PR and USVI.
Information for Planning and Consultation ( )
The Service has a digital project planning tool called the Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC), which helps federal and states agencies, and consultants to identify resources based on user-drawn project locations. IPaC automatically provides resource lists, endangered and threatened species list and information such as conservation measures for the species that might be present in the proposed project area.
IPaC is a tool to identify potential impacts to endangered and threatened species and provides suggestions for addressing them early in the project development process, helping to save time and money and avoid potential project delays. Link to the tool: https://ecos.fws.gov/ipac/.