This Handbook provides an overview of Section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and provides advice on carrying out Section 7 consultation for transportation projects. This Handbook focuses on the consultation process primarily from the perspective of the federal action agency and the applicant.
The Background Briefing section describes the legal framework for Section 7 consultation as defined in the ESA itself and in regulations issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. This section includes a flow chart illustrating the four main steps in Section 7 consultation and the findings that can be made at each step.
The Key Issues to Consider section raises a series of questions for practitioners to consider when undertaking Section 7 consultation for a transportation project. This section can be used as a checklist when preparing for each step in Section 7 consultation. The Practical Tips section provides advice on how to comply with Section 7 requirements as efficiently and effectively as possible. Issues covered in the Practical Tips section of the Handbook include:
- Preparing for Section 7 consultation
- Defining the action area and requesting or submitting a species list
- Assessing the effects of the proposed action on Section 7 resources
- Conducting formal consultation
- Conducting conference for proposed species and proposed critical habitat
- Coordinating Section 7 with the NEPA process and other requirements
- Complying with Section 7 following completion of the NEPA process