Section 7 Consultation
Federal agencies consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to avoid jeopardizing the existence of listed species and/or their critical habitat, which would violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These consultations are conducted under section 7 of the ESA.
- 2017 Interim Guidance: Implementing the Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy (582 KB PDF)
- Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy Federal Register Notice (325 KB PDF)
Non-federal parties, including individuals, cannot consult directly under section 7. However, there are many ways to make a "nexus" between a non-federal project and a federal agency. This allows non-federal parties to consult indirectly through that agency.
If you request a permit or funding from a federal agency for a project that could affect listed species, the agency will consult with the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (SFWO) about your project. Examples include instances when federal water serves the property, federal highway funds are used, or a federal wetlands permit (Army Corps of Engineers) is needed.
Habitat Conservation Plans
If you have a project that may adversely affect listed species, but no federal agency is involved in the process, you may need to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan. This is generally a longer, more comprehensive process.
Formal vs. Informal Consultation
If a federal agency believes that a project may adversely affect a listed species, it requests a formal consultation. In a formal consultation, the action agency asks SFWO to concur that their project will not jeopardize the species.
If the agency believes that the project may affect the species, but not adversely, it asks for an informal consultation. In an informal consultation, the action agency asks SFWO to concur that their project is not likely to adversely affect the species.
When possible, SFWO conducts a programmatic consultation to address multiple projects. These opinions typically cover small projects. They require applicants to take specific steps to protect endangered species.
Projects that fit these criteria can go through a streamlined process.
After completing a formal consultation, SFWO writes a biological opinion. Biological opinions state the Service’s opinion regarding whether or not a federal action is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.
Biological opinions are the basis for actions needed to minimize impact to the species.