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A vernal pool surrounded by bright purple flowers in the shadow of a forested mountain.
Information icon Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge. Photo © José Almodóvar.

Project evaluations

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.

Project planning and consultation

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. Section 7 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 project evaluations fact sheet 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.

Presentations of the Section 7 consultation process in the Caribbean

Preliminary project planning

The resources below can help determine if your project location requires special considerations. The maps and inventories below are reference materials and do not make final determinations on possible project impacts to natural resources. To reach a final determination, these materials are combined with professional assessments and field investigations.

Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC)

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.

Coastal Barrier Resources Maps

These maps identify undeveloped coastal areas prone to hurricane damage where federal funds can not be spent. A task force of professionals representing the Service, the U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and other agencies developed these maps.

National Wetlands Inventory Maps

The wetlands mapper may help you assess if a project includes or is adjacent to wetland areas. You can also view wetlands using Google Earth.

Caribbean ES blanket clearance letters

The Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office has developed blanket clearance letters to cover activities and projects that typically result in no adverse effects to federally-listed species under our jurisdiction. Blanket letters are used depending on the agency funding the project (Click on the agency name to download the letter):

If the proposed project is funded by any of the above agencies and complies with the actions activities established in the clearance letter, it might qualify for the self-certification process.

Download the self-certification for BLK letter. Once completed, please send the required documents to:

Blanket Clearance Letters
Caribbean ES Field Office
Po Box 491
Boqueron, PR 00622

Post-Disaster Guidance for Repair, Replacement, and Clean-up Projects in Streams and Waterways of Puerto Rico from Hurricane María

In Puerto Rico, 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 Puerto Rico support an array of aquatic species, including anadromous and catadromous fishes. 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.

This guidance was developed by the USFWS and provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for regulatory review by permitting agencies, protect damaged structures, reduce future damages, and prevent or minimize damage to natural resources. This guidance applies to post-disaster repair, replacement, and clean-up projects related to storm damage incurred by Hurricane María in aquatic habitats (creeks, rivers, and tidally-influenced waters).

Contact

Project Evaluations and Biological Assessments

Marelisa Rivera, Deputy Field Supervisor
marelisa_rivera@fws.gov, (787) 851-7297 x 206

Project Evaluations, Contaminants and Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act

Félix Lopez, Ecologist
felix_lopez@fws.gov, (787) 851-7297 x 210

IPaC, Project Evaluations and Blanket Clearance Letters

Angel G. Colón-Santiago, Pathway and IPAC Super User
angel_colon-santiago@fws.gov, (787) 851-7297 x 2014

Project Evaluations and Blanket Clearance Letters

Damaris Roman, Biological Technician
damaris_roman@fws.gov, (787) 851-7297 x 208

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