Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act requires all federally funded programs at the state and local level, such as transportation projects and habitat restoration projects go through a consultation process with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The agencies involved in the project must ensure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to affect the continued existence of a listed species or result in the destruction or modification of critical habitats. If a listed species has to potential to be impacted by the project, a biological assessment (BA) must be conducted with the purpose of analyzing the potential effects of the project on listed species and critical habitat. In order to collect the necessary data for the BA, a presence/ absence survey of the site proposed for development may be necessary. This is done by a variety of survey methods, such as mist netting for bats and visual and tactile surveys (including SCUBA) for mussels in order to determine the presence of a threatened species.
Once the BA is complete, it is reviewed by the US FWS. If it is concluded that the project may affect a listed species, further coordination with the FWS will likely be necessary, including the examination of alternatives to the project, or additional minimization and mitigation efforts to reduce the impact to the species.
- Biological Assessment (BA): A document prepared for the Section 7 process to determine whether a proposed major construction activity under the authority of a federal action agency is likely to adversely affect listed species, proposed species, or designated critical habitat.