Threatened and Endangered Species
Threatened and endangered (T&E) species within Pennsylvania are regulated through a complex of state and federal regulations — perhaps most notably the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973Opens In A New Window (PDF). Laws addressing T&E have been and will continue to be subject to regulatory changes and rulemakings serving to list or delist species with regular occurrence. T&E species coordination has a direct relationship to the National Environmental Policy Act and wetland permitting processes.
In Pennsylvania, there are both federal and state laws that prohibit "take," otherwise defined as the killing, harm, harassment, and other similar effects on T&E species. These prohibitions extend to all persons, however, regulations provide the ability to obtain permits allowing for take when incidental to an otherwise lawful action. For projects with federal funding or another federal action, Section 7 of the ESA, Interagency Cooperation, applies, requiring the federal agency to proactively cooperate for the conservation of T&E species and to consult with the USFWS or NMFS when undertaking federal actions. For PennDOT transportation projects, compliance with T&E regulations contained within the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat CodeOpens In A New Window (PDF) at 30 Pa.C.S. §§102, 2502, 2504, and 2506; the Game and Wildlife CodeOpens In A New Window (PDF) at 34 Pa.C.S. §§ 102, 925, 2164-67, and 2924; the Wild Resource Conservation ActOpens In A New Window (PDF) at 32 P.S. §§ 5301-5314; and the Conservation of Pennsylvania Native Wild PlantsOpens In A New Window (PDF) at 17 Pa. Code § 45.1-91 is also required.
In order to know whether T&E resources must be addressed for a project causing disturbance, the potential for T&E species needs to be identified within the immediate project area and beyond the project area to include areas that may be indirectly affected by the project collectively. Identification of potential T&E species should be done as early as possible in the transportation project development process and updated throughout the process in order that avoidance of the protected resources can be given full and fair consideration. Initial identification is conducted utilizing Conservation Explorer (formerly PNDI). Conservation Explorer Receipts may identify that no additional coordination is necessary, indicating "No Effect" on T&E resources. Alternatively, receipts may indicate whether conservation measures should be implemented, a programmatic process should be adhered to, or that additional agency coordination with one or more jurisdictional agencies is necessary. In instances where unavoidable take is likely to occur as a result of a project it may be necessary to prepare a biological assessment and conduct formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.