Thank you for your recent request for information on federally listed species and important wildlife habitats that may occur in your project area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has responsibility for certain species of New Mexico wildlife under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 as amended (16 USC 1531 et seq.), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) as amended (16 USC 701-715), and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) as amended (16 USC 668-668c). We are providing the following guidance to assist you in determining which federally imperiled species may or may not occur within your project area and to recommend some conservation measures that can be included in your project design.
FEDERALLY-LISTED SPECIES AND DESIGNATED CRITICAL HABITAT
Attached is a list of endangered, threatened, and proposed species that may occur in your project area. Your project area may not necessarily include all or any of these species. Under the ESA, it is the responsibility of the Federal action agency or its designated representative to determine if a proposed action "may affect" endangered, threatened, or proposed species, or designated critical habitat, and if so, to consult with the Service further. Similarly, it is the responsibility of the Federal action agency or project proponent, not the Service, to make “no effect” determinations. If you determine that your proposed action will have “no effect” on threatened or endangered species or their respective critical habitat, you do not need to seek concurrence with the Service. Nevertheless, it is a violation of Federal law to harm or harass any federally-listed threatened or endangered fish or wildlife species without the appropriate permit.
If you determine that your proposed action may affect federally-listed species, consultation with the Service will be necessary. Through the consultation process, we will analyze information contained in a biological assessment that you provide. If your proposed action is associated with Federal funding or permitting, consultation will occur with the Federal agency under section 7(a)(2) of the ESA. Otherwise, an incidental take permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA (also known as a habitat conservation plan) is necessary to harm or harass federally listed threatened or endangered fish or wildlife species. In either case, there is no mechanism for authorizing incidental take “after-the-fact.” For more information regarding formal consultation and HCPs, please see the Service’s Consultation Handbook and Habitat Conservation Plans at www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/index.html#consultations.
The scope of federally listed species compliance not only includes direct effects, but also any interrelated or interdependent project activities (e.g., equipment staging areas, offsite borrow material areas, or utility relocations) and any indirect or cumulative effects that may occur in the action area. The action area includes all areas to be affected, not merely the immediate area involved in the action. Large projects may have effects outside the immediate area to species not listed here that should be addressed. If your action area has suitable habitat for any of the attached species, we recommend that species-specific surveys be conducted during the flowering season for plants and at the appropriate time for wildlife to evaluate any possible project-related impacts.
Candidate Species and Other Sensitive Species
A list of candidate and other sensitive species in your area is also attached. Candidate species and other sensitive species are species that have no legal protection under the ESA, although we recommend that candidate and other sensitive species be included in your surveys and considered for planning purposes. The Service monitors the status of these species. If significant declines occur, these species could potentially be listed. Therefore, actions that may contribute to their decline should be avoided.
Lists of sensitive species including State-listed endangered and threatened species are compiled by New Mexico state agencies. These lists, along with species information, can be found at the following websites:
Biota Information System of New Mexico (BISON-M): www.bison-m.org
New Mexico State Forestry. The New Mexico Endangered Plant Program:
New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council, New Mexico Rare Plants: nmrareplants.unm.edu
Natural Heritage New Mexico, online species database: nhnm.unm.edu
WETLANDS AND FLOODPLAINS
Under Executive Orders 11988 and 11990, Federal agencies are required to minimize the destruction, loss, or degradation of wetlands and floodplains, and preserve and enhance their natural and beneficial values. These habitats should be conserved through avoidance, or mitigated to ensure that there would be no net loss of wetlands function and value.
We encourage you to use the National Wetland Inventory (NWI) maps in conjunction with ground-truthing to identify wetlands occurring in your project area. The Service’s NWI program website, www.fws.gov/wetlands/Data/Mapper.html integrates digital map data with other resource information. We also recommend you contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permitting requirements under section 404 of the Clean Water Act if your proposed action could impact floodplains or wetlands.
The MBTA prohibits the taking of migratory birds, nests, and eggs, except as permitted by the Service’s Migratory Bird Office. To minimize the likelihood of adverse impacts to migratory birds, we recommend construction activities occur outside the general bird nesting season from March through August, or that areas proposed for construction during the nesting season be surveyed, and when occupied, avoided until the young have fledged.
We recommend review of Birds of Conservation Concern at website www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/CurrentBirdIssues/Management/BCC.html to fully evaluate the effects to the birds at your site. This list identifies birds that are potentially threatened by disturbance and construction.
BALD AND GOLDEN EAGLES
The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was delisted under the ESA on August 9, 2007. Both the bald eagle and golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) are still protected under the MBTA and BGEPA. The BGEPA affords both eagles protection in addition to that provided by the MBTA, in particular, by making it unlawful to “disturb” eagles. Under the BGEPA, the Service may issue limited permits to incidentally “take” eagles (e.g., injury, interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior nest abandonment). For information on bald and golden eagle management guidelines, we recommend you review information provided at www.fws.gov/midwest/eagle/guidelines/bgepa.html.
On our web site www.fws.gov/southwest/es/NewMexico/SBC_intro.cfm, we have included conservation measures that can minimize impacts to federally listed and other sensitive species. These include measures for communication towers, power line safety for raptors, road and highway improvements, spring developments and livestock watering facilities, wastewater facilities, and trenching operations.
We also suggest you contact the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department, Forestry Division for information regarding State fish, wildlife, and plants.
Thank you for your concern for endangered and threatened species and New Mexico’s wildlife habitats. We appreciate your efforts to identify and avoid impacts to listed and sensitive species in your project area. For further consultation on your proposed activity, please call 505-346-2525 or email email@example.com and reference your Service Consultation Tracking Number.