Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, outlines procedures for interagency cooperation to conserve Federally listed species and designated critical habitats. Section 7(a)(1) requires Federal agencies to use their authorities to further the conservation of listed species. Section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to consult with the Services to ensure that they are not undertaking, funding, permitting, or authorizing actions likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat.
Section 7 outlines processes for consultation to address listed species and for conference to address species proposed for listing or proposed critical habitat.
If a Federal agency funds, authorizes, or carries out an action (termed the Federal nexus) that may affect endangered or threatened species or designated critical habitat, the agency shall initiate consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). If an action has unavoidable adverse effects, FSA and the USFWS enter formal consultation to determine whether the action is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of threatened or endangered species or is likely to destroy or adversely modify critical habitat that has been designated for listed species. Formal consultation generates a BO and results in Incidental Take Permit.
Other paragraphs of Section 7 establish the requirement to conduct conferences on proposed species; allow applicants to initiate early consultation; require FWS and NMFS to prepare biological opinions and issue incidental take statements. Section 7 also establishes procedures for seeking exemptions from the requirements of section 7(a)(2) from the Endangered Species Committee. [ESA §7]
USFWS provides detailed guidance on the procedures required for section 7 compliance. View the USFWS Section 7 Handbook.