Washington State Department of Transportation Endangered Species Act (ESA) Programmatic with the National Marine Fisheries Service
Federal Highway Administration, Washington Division
National Marine Fisheries Service
Washington State Department of Transportation
The Washington State Department of Transportation programmatic agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) provides ESA coverage for Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) projects. Established in 2012, the agreement addresses 24 species, including salmonid species, marine mammals, and rockfish. WSDOT, NMFS, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Washington Division collaborated extensively over the last two years to establish the programmatic agreement, which includes key components like early coordination, monitoring, reporting, and annual review meetings.
The programmatic agreement exemplifies environmental streamlining by establishing various expedited approval pathways, form-based documentation, and programmatic minimization measures. The programmatic agreement provides specific design guidance for highway projects and reduces the cost and timeline of individual consultations. Up to 70 percent of WSDOT projects requiring ESA Section 7 consultations are expected to utilize this programmatic; four projects have already done so, resulting in a nearly 90 percent reduction in consultation timelines. This streamlined environmental process allows transportation projects to address local endangered species efficiently and thoroughly. It is anticipated to be especially useful in addressing a large number of upcoming WSDOT culvert replacements for fish passage projects; the NMFS review time is reduced from a minimum of 135 days to 5 working days on these projects.
The fish passage project shown in this image represents a key project category for which the programmatic agreement will provide coverage.
Photo: FHWA Washington Division