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January 30, 2008
In Reply Refer To:
1150 (230) P
Information Bulletin No. 2008-035
To:                   State Directors
                        Attention: Deputy Directors, Endangered Species Program Leads
From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:           Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 Counterpart Regulations (CRs) for Projects that Support the National Fire Plan – Program Review: Year One
Program Areas:  Threatened and Endangered Species Management, Hazardous Fuels Reduction, Wild Urban Interface Fuels, Burned Area Rehabilitation, Forest Management, and Range Management.
Purpose:  This Information Bulletin (IB) officially announces the availability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), USDA, Forest Service (FS), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) combined report documenting the results of evaluations of biological assessments prepared under the authority of the subject regulations during their first year of use, titled Use of the ESA Section 7 Counterpart Regulations for Projects that Support the National Fire Plan.   
Background:  The ESA Section 7 CRs provide an optional alternative to the standard section 7 consultation process, and were developed specifically for agency projects that authorize, fund, or carry out actions that support the National Fire Plan (NFP). The intent of the counterpart regulations is to eliminate the need to obtain written concurrence from FWS and NMFS for those NFP actions that the BLM or FS determines are “not likely to adversely affect (NLAA)” any listed species or designated critical habitat, after entering into an Alternative Consultation Agreement (ACA) with FWS and NMFS, and upon implementing the provisions of the ACA. The FWS signed joint ACAs with the FS and BLM in March 2004. Additional details on the procedures and roles of the agencies are outlined in the ACA, including specific requirements for reporting, training and execution of self-certification, incorporating new information in agency decisions, and conducting periodic program monitoring and use of the counterpart regulations.
Policy/Action: This report covers the first year of CR use, beginning in March, 2004. It summarizes the requirements of the CRs and their ACAs, describes in detail the approaches used by FWS and NMFS to evaluate individual FS and BLM biological assessments, and documents the combined results of the evaluations. The report contains recommendations to the FS and BLM for improving the documentation of decisions they make pursuant to the CRs. While FWS and NMFS conducted the evaluations and the FS and BLM retain discretion over implementation of recommendations, the four agencies cooperatively prepared the attached Report. In accordance with the ACAs, the next review of BLM and FS use of the CRs will occur in 2008, and a report will follow.
Time Frame: This Report is now available in both printed and electronic formats.
Budget Impact: There is no significant budget impact.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  None currently. In the future, implementation of the recommendations contained in the report may affect policy.
Coordination:  The Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, (WO-230) and counterparts in the FS, FWS, and NMFS collaborated on the preparation of the subject report.
Contact: Should you have any questions concerning this IB, please contact Dwight Fielder, Chief, Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, (WO-230) at (202) 452-7761 or Steve Lydick, Assistant Lead, Threatened and Endangered Species Program (WO-230) at (202) 452-7759.
Signed by:                                                                   
Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                      
Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                        
Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning
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Last updated: 10-21-2009