The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires in Section 7 that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) when land use planning to ensure the proposed RMPs do not jeopardize the recovery of threatened and endangered species or adversely modify their critical habitats. FWS and NMFS, collectively referred to as "the Services," have begun early coordination to increase cooperation and avoid a potential jeopardy or adverse modification determination.
To accomplish this work, officially known as a "consultation," the BLM and the Services will work closely during the planning process, during the preparation of Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements (DEIS/FEIS), and during the preparation of Biological Assessments (BAs). This consultation process will occur in parallel with the evaluation of RMP alternatives.
The information in the BAs will be used by the Services to determine effects of the final RMPs on threatened and endangered species and their critical habitats. The Services each publish their results in a Biological Opinion (BiOp) for species and critical habitat under their respective jurisdictions.
The BLM, FWS and NMFS have met and determined how the consultation process will achieve its conceptual timeline and articulated goals with rigor and expediency. The first of these meetings occurred in September 2012. The organizational structure for the consultation was finalized in an ESA Consultation Agreement which outlines the agreements made between the BLM, the FWS, and NMFS and signed June 18, 2013. Consultation meetings among the agencies are expected to continue throughout the RMP revision process so the BAs and the BiOps can be completed soon after the final EIS/proposed RMP. The U.S. Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency are also participating in the meetings to provide insight, and to integrate the work of this consultation effort with those aspects of the RMPs revision process that directly involves them.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is revising the existing resource management plans (RMP) for Western Oregon. These plans will determine how these BLM-administered lands will be managed to further the recovery of threatened and endangered species, to provide for clean water, to restore fire-adapted ecosystems, to produce a sustained yield of timber products, and to provide for recreation opportunities. Draft RMPs, accompanied by a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), are expected in the summer of 2014.
For more information, the signed ESA Consultation Agreement is available to be read here (PDF).
To learn more about the intersection between the NEPA planning and ESA Consultation processes, check out the Integrated NEPA and ESA Timeline (PDF).