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.
USFWS-ESA Emergency Section 7 Consultation Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Federally Listed Species
- Best Management Practices for Federally Listed Sea Turtles in Relation to FEMA’s Federal Disaster Grant Assistance to the Puerto Rico Department of Sports and Recreation
- Best Management Practices for Federally Listed Species in Relation to PREPAs Transmission Lines Restoration Project in Puerto Rico due to Hurricanes Maria
- Best Management Practices for Federally Listed Species in Relation to Emergency Works on Various Roadways in Puerto Rico due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria
Presentations of the Section 7 consultation process in the Caribbean
- Use of IPaC and other online tools for an effective consultation
- Proceso de Revisión Federal Unificada Resumen e Implementacion
- Section 7 Consultation for the Former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, Ceiba, PR
- Expedited Processes for Compliance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act
- Endangered Species Act: Consultation Process Under Section 7
- Project Evaluation Process and Compliance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act Training
- Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
- National Environmental Policy Act
- Clean Water Act
- Federal Power Act
- Communication Tower Guidelines
- Section 7 Consultation (BA/BE)
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.
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.
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.
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):
- HUD & RD - reconstruction of existing projects, construction of facilities in urban areas, activities within existing Right of Way, among others
- USDA rural development
- FHWA & FTA - rehabilitation of facilities of existing Public Transportation System (signs, bus stop, etc.), projects in urbanized areas or vacant lots with no forested vegetation
- FEMA – Hazard Mitigation and Public Assistance Grants Program
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).
Project Evaluations and Biological Assessments
Marelisa Rivera, Deputy Field Supervisor
firstname.lastname@example.org, (787) 851-7297 x 206
Project Evaluations, Contaminants and Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
Félix Lopez, Ecologist
email@example.com, (787) 851-7297 x 210
IPaC, Project Evaluations and Blanket Clearance Letters
Angel G. Colón-Santiago, Pathway and IPAC Super User
firstname.lastname@example.org, (787) 851-7297 x 2014
Project Evaluations and Blanket Clearance Letters
Damaris Roman, Biological Technician
email@example.com, (787) 851-7297 x 208