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ECOS Application Help

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The purpose of this document is to:

  1. Provide an overview of the steps involved in delivering species lists through IPaC.
  2. Describe how to define an Area of Influence (AOI) for a species within your office's jurisdiction.
  3. Provide detailed instructions of how Field Offices can customize the letter that IPaC delivers with official species lists, as authorized by your office.
  4. Explain how Field Offices can include attachments with the species lists they deliver through IPaC.
  5. Explain how critical habitat is handled in IPaC species lists.


The ECOS development team is continually collecting comments concerning ways to improve the existing functionality of our support tools, as well as recommendations for new tools or processes that would benefit Field and Regional offices.  Please contact us with your suggestions or comments – we are here to support you!  Contact:  Tara Nicolaysen, Branch of Conservation Integration (, 303-236-4259), or submit an ECOS Help Desk ticket by clicking the Contact Us link at the bottom of ECOS application pages.

As always, if you encounter problems while using ECOS applications, click the Contact Us link and report the problem or concern. 

Process Diagram: Delivering Species Lists through IPaC

The process of delivering species lists through IPaC involves several ECOS applications: ECOS Help Desk, TESS/Species Module, TAILS Module, and ultimately, IPaC. The process below depicts the steps that the Field Office takes in each ECOS Module and shows the Project Proponent step of requesting a species list through IPaC. The following pages guide you through the procedures for accomplishing the field office-specific steps.

1. Defining the Boundary of your Field Office Jurisdiction

Field Offices can define their Field Office jurisdictional boundaries by submitting a list of counties or by uploading ESRI shapefiles.

By County

Initially, Regional Offices provided the ECOS staff with the jurisdiction boundaries for each Field Office in the form of a list of counties. If you wish to change the boundaries that ECOS uses of your Field Office jurisdiction, i.e., the list of counties that comprise your jurisdiction, please submit an ECOS help desk ticket.

By Shapefile

Some Field Office jurisdictions do not strictly follow county boundaries, and instead benefit from defining the Field Office jurisdiction by shapefile instead of county.  To do this, submit an ECOS Help Desk ticket and attach an ESRI shapefile of your office jurisdiction. The ECOS team will work directly with you to implement the shapefiles in ECOS.

2. Defining and Editing the Areas of Influence for Species in your Field Office

Species ranges can be entered in the form of tabular data using picklists or a mapper, or uploaded as spatial data in the form of shapefiles.

Define or Edit Area of Influence by County, 8-Digit Hydrologic Unit, USGS Quadrangle, or USGS Quarter Quad

For instructions on using the Species Module to define or edit the Areas of Influence for species within your Field Office jurisdiction, see Range Edit User Manual or Range Edit Quick Tips.  The document links are available in the Species Module, accessed via:
ECOS->Species->Office Areas of Influence (as shown below).

To edit your existing Area of Influence, select Edit, as shown below. 

On the Edit Area of Influence for Office page, choose the range basis, and then edit by selecting items in the selection list, or click edit via map (as shown below):

Define Area of Influence Boundary by Shapefile

Area of Influence boundaries for a species population can also be defined by uploading a shapefile of the boundary.

To upload a shapefile of the species Area of Influence, ECOS->TESS->Upload Documents and Data, and select Species Area of Influence Shapefile from the drop-down list (shown below).

For shapefile submission instructions, click the Range Submission Instructions link on the Upload Documents and Data page (shown below):

3. Authorizing IPaC to Deliver Species Lists for your Field Office

Each Field Office has a number of authorization alternatives for delivering species lists through IPaC: 1) Preliminary Species Lists only, 2) Preliminary or Official Species Lists, or 3) None. By default, the authorization level is set to “None”.

To view or change the authorization level, go to ECOS->Species->Office Areas of Influence and click Authorize generation of Species Lists through IPaC (shown below).

For instructions and information about the authorization alternatives, including implications, click the More info link (shown below):

4. Designating the IPaC Contacts within your Office (TAILS Super user)

If your office chooses to deliver preliminary or official species lists via IPaC, you must designate the IPaC Contacts within your office. The IPaC Contacts are sent an email each time a species list is delivered by IPaC on behalf of your office. Designating the IPaC Contacts is done through the TAILS application.

Getting access to TAILS and customization

If the TAILS application doesn't appear on your ECOS homepage, you will need to request access to TAILS, as explained on this page: Request or Change Access to ECOS Modules/Applications.

After you have access to TAILS, you can customize it for IPaC purposes by first selecting the Customization button (as shown below). 

Note: Customizing TAILS according to your Field Office needs requires that you have “TAILS Super user” permissions. If the Customization button does NOT appear on the TAILS Homepage, talk to the TAILS super user in your office and ask to be granted super user permission.

Selecting primary and secondary contacts

  1. On the Customization page, click IPaC Contacts on the left side of the page. For information about the implications of selecting IPaC Contacts, click the help buttons, as shown below.

2. Select the primary and secondary contacts, then click Save.

5. Customizing the IPaC Default Letter According to Field Office Needs (TAILS Super user)

Each field office has the ability to create a custom species list letter delivered to project proponents. The preliminary or official species list letter is designed to be a formal letter with both the DOI and USFWS emblems.  Note that IPaC delivers one letter (with the same content) for preliminary or official species lists except that the preliminary species list has a large watermark “Preliminary” on the body of the document.  When a preliminary list is sent via IPaC, it is expected to be followed up by an official species list and letter from the appropriate Field Office within 30 days.

Field Offices (specifically, the TAILS super user(s) for the office) can:

  • View the letter that IPaC sends out by default when it provides a preliminary or an official species list; and
  • Customize the letter for your office's purposes.
  1. In the TAILS application, click Custom Letter for IPaC Species List on the left side of the page (as shown below):


2. Displayed is the body of the letter that is provided by default when an official species list is requested for species that fall within your jurisdiction. To view the letter, click the Preview button, which allows you to open or save a PDF file of the letter. A screen shot of an example is shown below:

4. To customize the body of the letter, close the Preview (PDF) document, and click Edit. Make any changes that are appropriate to your Field Office.

Note: The body of the letter opens within an Editor (shown below) and provides a variety of editing tools, such as Copy, Paste, Spell Check, and so forth. 

Note: Be aware that the Editor has some limitations, as shown when you click Help. See the information below in the section “Constraints of TAILS Editor”. As a rule of thumb, if you copy formatted text from MS Word and paste it into the TAILS Editor, you may lose the formatting and need to reapply it. The least problematic approach to copying and pasting is to 1) copy your content into a text editor, such as MS Notepad, which strips out formatting, 2) copy it into the Editor provided by TAILS, and then 3) apply formatting to the text

5. After you have edited your letter content, close the Editor by clicking Done.

6. Once you are satisfied with the custom content of your letter, click Save. 

7. If at any time, you want to restore the default letter initially provided by the system, click Reset. If you wish to permanently restore the default letter, click Save after clicking Reset.

Constraints of the TAILS Editor

Though you may not notice problems in the TAILS Editor or the viewer, some items items are unlikely to convert into the PDF version, which has specific formatting constraints—and which recipients will see.

Copying and Pasting Text

  • Formatting such as hyperlinks and bulleted or numbered lists typically work as expected if copied from MS-Word or PDF.
  • Text and paragraph formatting attributes like font, style, color, alignment, spacing, and others are lost when pasted into the TAILS Editor.
  • Bolding, italics, and underlining often transfer but sometimes do not.

If text copy is required, it is recommended that you copy it to the Notepad or some other text editor that strips off the formatting. Then, paste it into the TAILS Editor. This is one way to avoid getting error messages indicating possible problems with the TAILS Editor.

Copying and Pasting Images and Tables

  • Images and tables sometimes fail to be successfully inserted into the letter. Regardless of what you may see in the editor or viewer, they may not translate into the PDF version that recipients get.

Use of Special Characters

  • The following special characters will display incorrectlyin the letter and may cause an error condition:
    • greater than (>) or less than (<) signs
  • The following special characters should display correctly:
    • Single quote (')
    • Double quote (")
    • Exclamation mark (!)
    • Number sign (#)
    • Percent sign (%)
    • Ampersand (&)
    • Apostrophe (')
    • Asterisk (*)
    • Plus sign (+)
    • At sign (@)
    • Question mark (?)
    • Forward slash (/)
    • Back slash (\)
    • Vertical bar (|)
    • Hyphen (-)
    • Underscore ( _ )
    • Caret (^)
    • Square bracket [ ]
    • Curly bracket { }
    • Parenthesis ( )

Additional Information to Include in a Field Office Custom Letter

Regional Default Letters – Regional Offices may want to prepare a draft letter that would address issues of regional importance for their Field Offices to use.

Candidate species – The default species list letter now indicates that threatened, endangered, proposed and candidate species, along with proposed and Final designated Critical Habitat, are included in IPaC species lists, as required pursuant to regulation. IPaC includes information for all candidate species for which field offices have defined Areas of Influence; however, not all offices have done so.

It is recommended that if you haven’t done so, Field Offices should add Areas of Influence for candidates as soon as possible. Field Offices that have included Areas of Influence for all of the candidate species in their jurisdiction may want to consider adding the following or similar language to their office’s custom letter in TAILS:

The species list also identifies candidate species under review for listing and those species that the Service considers "species of concern."  Candidate species have no protection under the Act but are included for consideration because they could be listed prior to the completion of your project.  Species of concern are those taxa whose conservation status is of concern to the Service (e.g., species previously known as “Category 2” candidates), but for which further information is still needed.

If a proposed project may affect only candidate species or species of concern, you are not required to prepare a Biological Assessment or evaluation or to consult with the Service. However, the Service recommends minimizing impacts to these species to prevent future conflicts.  Therefore, if early evaluation indicates that a project will impact a candidate species or species of concern, your agency may wish to request technical assistance from this office to identify appropriate minimization measures.

Note: If a field office has included Areas of Influence for some, but not all candidate species in their jurisdiction, the species list will be incomplete with respect to candidate species and could cause confusion to project proponents and FWS staff alike.

Bald and Golden Eagles – Field Offices may consider adding in the following or similar language:

Please be aware that bald and golden eagles are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668 et seq.), and projects affecting these species may require development of an eagle conservation plan. (  Additionally, wind energy projects should follow the Service’s wind energy guidelines ( for minimizing impacts to migratory birds and bats.

Field Offices may want to add a nationally or regionally applicable URL to the custom letter, as shown below in red font:

Please be aware that bald and golden eagles are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668 et seq.), and projects affecting these species may require development of an eagle conservation plan. ( and/or (http:// <Field Office: Add a nationally or regionally applicable URL Here>). Additionally, wind energy projects should follow the Service’s wind energy guidelines ( for minimizing impacts to migratory birds and bats.

Migratory Birds, including communications or cell towers – Field Offices may want to add some information on Migratory Birds and towers, and include URL’s to web sites that would be helpful.  Field Offices may consider adding in the following or similar language (included in the default species list letter):

In addition to responsibilities to protect threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), there are additional responsibilities under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) to protect native birds from project-related impacts. Any activity, intentional or unintentional, resulting in take of migratory birds, including eagles, is prohibited unless otherwise permitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (50 C.F.R. Sec. 10.12 and 16 U.S.C. Sec. 668(a)). For more information regarding these Acts see

The MBTA has no provision for allowing take of migratory birds that may be unintentionally killed or injured by otherwise lawful activities. It is the responsibility of the project proponent to comply with these Acts by identifying potential impacts to migratory birds and eagles within applicable NEPA documents (when there is a federal nexus) or a Bird/Eagle Conservation Plan (when there is no federal nexus). Proponents should implement conservation measures to avoid or minimize the production of project-related stressors or minimize the exposure of birds and their resources to the project-related stressors. For more information on avian stressors and recommended conservation measures see

In addition to MBTA and BGEPA, Executive Order 13186: "Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds", obligates all Federal agencies that engage in or authorize activities that might affect migratory birds, to minimize those effects and encourage conservation measures that will improve bird populations. Executive Order 13186 provides for the protection of both migratory birds and migratory bird habitat. For information regarding the implementation of Executive Order 13186, please visit

Wetlands – Many Field Offices may want to include information on wetlands; Field Offices may consider adding in the following or similar language:

Wetlands are also a Service trust resource, and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA) provides the basic authority for the Services involvement in evaluating impacts to fish and wildlife whenever the waters of any stream or other body of water are proposed or authorized to be impounded, diverted, the channel deepened, or the stream or other body of water otherwise controlled or modified for any purpose any department or agency of the United States, or by any public or private agency under Federal permit or license, including water crossings and wetland impacts, whether or not those wetlands are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [16 U.S.C. 661(1), emphasis added]. It requires that fish and wildlife resources receive equal other project features...through the effectual and harmonious planning, development, maintenance, and coordination of wildlife conservation and rehabilitation, and requires Federal agencies to consult with the Service during the planning process to help prevent the loss of or damage to such resources as well as providing for the development and improvement thereof (16 U.S.C. 661 et seq). Full consideration is to be given to Service recommendations.

6. Selecting attachments to include with the Species List

You can select from three attachments to include with your office's species lists.

  1. Click Attachments to IPaC Species List on the left side of the page.

2. Click the attachments you want to include, then click Save.

7. Critical Habitat Information Disclosed in IPaC Species Lists

IPaC species lists include critical habitat information. For each species on the species list, IPaC indicates whether that species has final or proposed critical habitat anywhere in the U.S. In addition, those species with critical habitat that intersect the project area are noted. See the sample IPaC screens below. The “Final designated critical habitat” links are links to a map showing the critical habitat. 

How the Disclosure of Critical Habitats is Determined

IPaC displays critical habitat information for proposed and final critical habitats that have been marked operative by designated FWS regional or headquarters personnel, and for which spatial data has been uploaded into ECOS. In most cases, the following rules restrict which critical habitats can be marked operative, and hence, which critical habitats can be disclosed by IPaC:

  • If there is a Proposed Critical Habitat, but no Final, the Proposed can be operative
  • If there is a Proposed and Final Critical Habitat, only the Final can be operative
  • If there is a Proposed, Final, and Revised Proposed, the Final and the Revised Proposed can be operative
  • If there is a Proposed, Final, Revised Proposed, and Revised Final, only the Revised Final can be operative.

How to submit Proposed and/or Final Critical Habitat spatial information to ECOS

To submit critical habitat spatial data to ECOS for display through IPaC, follow instructions on the Critical Habitat page.

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