Spotted Owl - Photo from USDA Forest Service
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To ensure that a proposed federal action is compliant with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act and meets WSDOT Biological Assessment (BA) standards, a process of environmental evaluation, documentation, and review has been developed by WSDOT.
In June 2006, WSDOT began a qualification program for consultants who prepare biological assessments for the agency. The program involves attendance at required seminars, passing an examination, and meeting biological assessment quality standards defined by WSDOT.
WSDOT's BA development and consultation process can be divided into six general phases:
The Endangered Species Act requires preparation of a BA for any major construction project with a federal nexus. WSDOT has developed specific standards and guidance on content of Biological Assessments prepared for the agency.
WSDOT, in conjunction with USFWS, NMFS and FHWA, routinely develops guidance documents and protocols for addressing certain topics in Biological Assessments. The BA Guidance page provides a localized site to find all current and updated guidance documents on subjects such as stormwater, noise assessments and indirect effects and the WSDOT BA Preparation for Transportation Projects Manual.
Several protocols and templates are available to standardize elements of the consultation and are required as appendices within Biological Assessments for WSDOT projects.
Species List/ESA Listing Information
ESA Listing Updates (pdf 239 kb) contains updated information on listing and delisting proposals, status of proposed critical habitat and protective regulations, 90-day petition findings and species undergoing 12-month status reviews for Washington State.
Steller Sea Lion De-listed by NOAA Fisheries. On November 4, 2013, NOAA Fisheries published a final rule delisting the eastern DPS of the Steller sea lion. The rule takes effect December 4, 2013 and removes ESA protection for this DPS.
Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Proposed Listing. On October 4, 2013, the USFWS proposed to list the western yellow-billed cuckoo as threatened. The last confirmed breeding records in Washington are from the 1930s, and it is likely to have been extirpated as a nesting species in the State. Since then, there have been scattered records in Washington from 1956 to 2012. The cuckoo is dependent upon large contiguous stands of mature riparian forest. USFWS will make a final ruling on this proposal in late-2014.
Streaked Horned Lark Listed as Threatened. On October 3, 2013, the USFWS announced the listing of streaked horned lark (Eremophila alpestris strigata) as threatened. This small songbird is found in largely unvegetated to sparsely-vegetated open habitats in western Washington. Airport maintenance near runways provide habitat fror this species. As a result, airport vegetation management, as well as other activities, are covered under a 4(d) rule. In addition, critical habitat was designated in Grays Harbor, Pacific, Wahkiakum, and Cowlitz counties.
Taylor's Checkerspot Listed as Endangered. On October 3, 2013, the USFWS announced the listing of Taylor's checkerspot (Euphydryas editha taylori) as endangered. This butterfly is associated with prairie and grassland habitats in western Washington and the Willamette Valley in Oregon. In addition, critical habitat was designated in Thurston, Island, Skagit, and Clallum counties.
Oregon Spotted Frog, Proposed Listing. On August 29, 2013, the USFWS proposed to list the Oregon spotted frog as threatened, and proposed to designate critical habitat. In Washington, the specific areas proposed for designation are located in Whatcom, Skagit, Thurston, Skamania, and Klickitat counties. The USFWS will make a final ruling on these proposed actions in mid-2014.
Proposed Critical Habitat for Three Rockfish Species. On August 6, 2013, NMFS proposed to designate critical habitat for the threatened DPS of yelloweye rockfish, threatened DPS of canary rockfish, and the endangered DPS of bocaccio. The specific areas proposed for designation are located in Puget Sound. NMFS will make a final ruling on critical habitat designation about 1 year from the time of this announcement.
Gray Wolf Proposed for De-listing. On June 13, 2013, the USFWS announced a proposal to remove the gray wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The USFWS proposed this action because the best available scientific and commercial information indicated that the currently listed entity is not a valid species under the ESA. USFWS will make a final ruling on this proposal in mid-2014.
Two Plants Listed as Threatened in Washington. On April 22, 2013, the USFWS announced the listing of Umtanum desert buckwheat (Eriogonum codium) and White Bluffs bladder-pod (Physaria tuplashensis) as threatened. Both species occupy narrow, linear bands on bluffs above and on opposite sides of the Columbia River along the Hanford Reach. In addition, critical habitat was designated for both species. Most critical habitat is located on federal lands. Implementation of the listings is scheduled for later in 2013.
Wolverine, Proposed Listing. On February 4, 2013, the USFWS proposed to list the North American distinct population segment of the wolverine (Gulo gulo) in the contiguous United States as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In the same announcement, the USFWS indicated that they could not determine critical habitat at this time. The listing was triggered by climate change factors. The USFWS is also proposing a special rule under Section 4(d) of the ESA that would allow snowmobiling, skiing, timber harvest, and infrastructure development; these activities do not constitute significant threats to the wolverine or its high-elevation habitat.
Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon Proposed Critical Habitat. On January 14, 2013, the NMFS proposed a rule to designate critical habitat for Lower Columbia River coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). The proposed critical habitat areas are in Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania, and Wahkiakum Counties. NMFS will make a final ruling on critical habitat designation about 1 year from the time of this announcement.
Puget Sound Steelhead Proposed Critical Habitat. On January 14, 2013, the NMFS proposed a rule to designate critical habitat for Puget Sound steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The proposed critical habitat areas are in Clallam, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, and Whatcom Counties. NMFS will make a final ruling on critical habitat designation about 1 year from the time of this announcement.