To determine if there are protected species or their designated critical habitats in your project area, it is important to contact groups or agencies that are familiar with the species in your project area. This could include the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Marine Fisheries Service NMFS) for ocean-going fish species, or your state natural heritage program. Other sources of information include local parks and recreation officials, or even a Natural Resources Department at a local college or university.
Applicants should, at a minimum, request information from the USFWS, state natural heritage program and NMFS (if proposed project is near waters that could contain ocean- going species, such as salmon) about the presence of protected species or designated critical habitat. Documented communication from these agencies is the best assurance of the presence or absence of protected species or critical habitat, and should be attached to the project application. In your communications you should:
- Indicate that you are applying for federal aid, and you are requesting information about the presence of protected species and habitat near your project area [example USFWS letter].
- Include in your request the name of the nearest city and the names of the county and state where the project will occur.
- Include a detailed description of the proposed project
- Include a 1:24,000 scale USGS map showing the project boundaries, and photos of the project, if available [example USFWS map]
These agencies typically take at least 30 days to respond, so it is important to initiate contact early. If you have not received an agency response as you are finalizing your application, it is a good idea to follow up with them to find out when you can expect it. Read the responses from the USFWS, NMFS, and/or your state natural heritage program carefully. If these agencies indicate that there may be threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat in your project area, check "ye" to Section C, Question 1 of the Environmental/Historic Preservation Questions. You should only check "no" to Section C, Question 1 if the USFWS and/or NMFS have definitively confirmed that there are no protected species or critical habitat in the project area and they will not be affected by the proposed project. In all other cases, check