For FHWA-funded projects, H&LP and FHWA are the only entities that have the authority to initiate Section 7 consultation with the Services:
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife (USFWS)
- National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
H&LP can provide assistance in the development of local-agency ESA materials.
Steps in the Section 7 Consultations Process
FHWA and H&LP will coordinate all communications with the Services and will represent the interests of the local agency. Local agencies cannot initiate consultations with the Services.
To initiate a Section 7 Consultation:
- Biological Assessment (BA) is prepared by the local agency
Tip: The WSDOT BA Outline (.doc 279kb)is recommended by H&LP for local agencies to use when preparing ESA documents. This outline was developed alongside the Services to provide a standard format for BAs.
- Next, the local agency contacts the Region Local Programs Engineer.
- H&LP then coordinates a review by a WSDOT ESA biologist. This review may take up to 30 days.
- Local agency makes the recommended edits
- BA is sent back to H&LP
- H&LP or FHWA submits the BA to the Services for consultation.
- The Services assigns the project to a biologist to coordinate the consultation and to prepare either a Letter of Concurrence (LOC) or a Biological Opinion (BO).
Tool for Biological Assessment Reviews
H&LP encourages local agencies to use FHWA's Web-based ESA Consultation Tool, which facilitates expedited internal and external reviews of BAs. This tool establishes a website for each project, and permits "team members" to review and, in some cases, edit drafts of the BA. It also permits H&LP and FHWA to share BAs and other project information electronically with the Services.
More ESA Resources