Endangered Species Act Compliance

WEST is a recognized leader in the field of Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultations and is adept and nimble at navigating the regulatory, legal, and political landscapes of conservation planning for threatened and endangered species. We are currently working on or have completed more than 35 Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) covering 17 different ESA-listed species across the US for a variety of clients, including wind energy and solar energy projects, oil and gas facilities, forestry operations, highway construction, gravel mines, and reservoirs. 

Our broad ESA expertise expands beyond HCPs to also include Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances, National Environmental Policy Act review, research under recovery permits, research to support recovery planning and species status assessments, and conservation plan implementation and long-term monitoring. Our team of biologists and biometricians provides scientifically credible, robust, and project-specific solutions to the oftentimes intricate issues associated with listed species. Critical to the development of durable and defensible plans, our experience, expertise, and professional relationships have helped us cultivate a collaborative and streamlined process for working together with applicants, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and other stakeholders.

ESA Compliance Expertise:

  • Assessment of Risk and ESA Compliance Strategy Options
  • Evaluating Potential Take of Listed Species
  • Assessing the Impacts of Take
  • Designing Compliance Monitoring and Effectiveness Monitoring Plans
  • Conservation Planning and Identification of Avoidance, Minimization, and Mitigation Measures
  • Development of Adaptive Management Processes
  • Planning for Changes and Unforeseen Circumstances
  • Process Management and Facilitation
  • Implementation Support

Project Highlights

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MidAmerican Energy Company I-X Wind Energy Facilities HCP, Iowa

WEST was contracted by MidAmerican Energy Company to develop a HCP in application for an Incidental Take Permit covering potential take of listed species for MidAmerican Energy Company’s I-X fleet of wind energy projects located throughout Iowa. Covered species included: Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat, little brown bat, tri-colored bat, and bald eagle.

WEST supported the development of this groundbreaking effort through close collaboration with both the project proponent and the USFWS Illinois-Iowa Field Office. WEST designed and conducted a number of rigorous and pioneering studies and research endeavors in support of the HCP effort, including intensive post-construction monitoring, curtailment studies, bat surveys, eagle surveys, habitat surveys, and development of statistical methods for predicting and estimating take of bats and bald eagles.

Skookumchuck Wind Energy Facility HCP

WEST supported the development of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that resulted in a successful Incidental Take Permit application for the Skookumchuck Wind Energy Facility in Lewis and Thurston Counties, Washington. The HCP covers potential impacts to marbled murrelets, bald eagles, and golden eagles over a permit term of 30 years and is the first wind energy HCP to include marbled murrelets as a covered species. WEST was the lead technical contractor for the HCP, developing the impact assessments and conservation plans for the covered species. This included providing technical expertise in the development of take estimates, risk analysis, and mitigation as it pertained to marbled murrelets and bald and golden eagles.

WEST also developed a pilot study to test the effectiveness of IdentiFlight as a technological solution to minimize the impact of take on the covered species, as well as the adaptive management framework for incorporating the results of the study into the management of the HCP. This project involved recent, extensive coordination with both the USFWS Washington Field Office and USFWS Region 1 staff.