What this permitting pathway covers
Projects that the Service finds to be consistent with this programmatic informal consultation will benefit from expedited consultation relative to their regulatory standard of 60 days for the completion of an informal consultation (84 Federal Register 44976). The Service will endeavor to complete informal consultation within 30 days of receipt of the Corps’ informal consultation request.
To make use of this biological opinion, the Corps must ensure that a proposed project satisfies the following criteria:
Criterion 1: Actions that would be appropriately considered for using this biological opinion are likely to result in adverse effects to the California red-legged frog and/or its critical habitat, but would not affect the long-term viability of the population in the action area. The Corps and the Service have previously consulted on numerous projects that meet these criteria. These projects include, but are not limited to: repair, replacement, and maintenance of bridges; repair of stream bank protection; replacement of low-flow stream crossings with bridges; small-scale stabilization of stream slopes; minor improvement of drainage; replacement of culverts; connection of pipelines; and habitat restoration activities.
Criterion 2: The projects must not, in the Service’s view, take place in areas where populations of California red-legged frogs are so isolated that even the small effects described in this biological opinion may have substantial impacts.
Criterion 3: The applicant must implement the measures to reduce or avoid adverse effects to the California red-legged frog and its critical habitat, provided in the Minimization of Adverse Effects section; these measures may be modified on a project-specific basis on agreement between the Corps and the Service.
Criterion 4: The projects must be single and discrete, and not part of larger actions or associated with other projects such as residential development, projects of long duration, ongoing dam maintenance, etc. Projects with adverse effects to the California red-legged frog and/or its critical habitat outside of the Corps’ jurisdiction that the Corps is unable to regulate are excluded (i.e., where a “small federal handle” exists or that may be subject to the 2017 agreement discussed earlier).
Criterion 5: For any project resulting in permanent losses of suitable California red-legged frog habitat within the Corps’ permit area, the Corps, through the applicant, will include as a conservation measure the submittal of an appropriate habitat compensation proposal (described in Mitigation of Adverse Effects section). If appropriate, this may include a restoration, monitoring, and management plan. The proposal will be submitted to the Service prior to the date of initial ground disturbance, as outlined in the Mitigation of Adverse Effects section.
Criterion 6: Each project must have less than one half (0.5) acre of temporary impacts and/or less than one half (0.5) acre permanent impacts in the Corps’ permit area. Temporary effects of the project must be restored to pre-project conditions within three years of project initiation. Exemptions to these impact acreage limits may be approved on a project-specific basis with documented agreement between the Service and the Corps.
For the purposes of this biological opinion, temporary losses and permanent losses are defined as:
- Temporary losses: The effects resulting from project activities that are short term and do not result in effects to California red-legged frog habitat that are longer than three years; all habitat will be restored to equal or better condition than before the impact within three years following project initiation.
- Permanent losses: The effects resulting from project activities which remove existing habitat or essential habitat components that cannot be restored to pre-project conditions of equal or greater value within three years.
The action area for this PBO includes all areas within the responsibility of the Ventura FWO in Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties that support the California red-legged frog, or its critical habitat, and that have the potential to be affected directly or indirectly by projects authorized or funded by the Corps.
April 27, 2030
How to apply
See the Programmatic Informal Section 7 Form on page 44 of the PBO for Projects that May Affect the California Red-legged Frog (Ventura FWO).
Electronic informal consultation request submissions are preferred, and can be sent to:
May be used with:
California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii)
Projects that meet the suitability criteria and may involve some or all of the following activities are often authorized by the Corps under the Nationwide Permit program. To guide the Corps during project evaluation, the Service has reviewed Nationwide Permits the Corps has issued under 33 CFR 330.3 and has determined that projects typically authorized under the Nationwide Permits listed below may be appropriate for appendage to this programmatic biological opinion:
Nationwide Permit Activities:
(#5) Scientific Measuring Devices
(#6) Survey Activities
(#7) Outfall Structures
(#12) Utility Line Discharges
(#13) Bank Stabilization, provided that activity is less than 50 feet in length
(#14) Road Crossings
(#15) U.S. Coast Guard Approved Bridges
(#17) Hydropower Projects
(#18) Minor Discharges
(#19) Minor Dredging
(#23) Approved Categorical Exclusions
(#25) Structural Discharges
(#27) Wetland and Riparian Restoration and Creation Activities
(#31) Maintenance of Existing Flood Control Facilities
(#32) Completed Enforcement Actions
(#33) Temporary Construction, Access and Dewatering
(#37) Emergency Watershed Protection and Rehabilitation
(#38) Cleanup of Hazardous and Toxic Waste
Projects that do not qualify for authorization under the Nationwide permits listed above may be considered for appendage to this PBO on a project-specific basis as long as they satisfy Eligibility Criteria 1-6 above.
Projects that do not meet the eligibility criteria above.
See the Minimization of Adverse Effects section of the PBO, starting on page 12, for the list of avoidance and minimization measures. Any removal of measures from the project description must be approved by the Service.
Application Tips and Resources
Staff from the Service’s VFWO will be available to provide technical assistance during all phases of consultation. Technical assistance can include assisting the Corps with determinations of effects, development of project-specific designs and protective measures, modifications of survey protocols, and any other issues that may arise. The Corps may transmit technical assistance to and from the Service in the form of telephone calls, electronic mail, or written correspondence.
At least 60 days prior to authorizing any activities that the Corps determines are likely to adversely affect the California red-legged frog or its critical habitat, the Corps will notify the VFWO, in writing, of any project it proposes to authorize under the auspices of this biological opinion. This timeline will provide sufficient time for the Service to review projects proposed to be appended to the biological opinion. If the Service concurs that use of the biological opinion is appropriate, and consultation is completed in less than 60 days, the Corps may issue authorization upon receipt of such notification from the Service. Electronic submissions are preferred, and can be sent to: FW8VenturaSection7@fws.gov.
At a minimum, the following information will accompany the Corps’ project notification to the Service:
- A 7.5-minute topographic map (and aerial photographs if possible) of the proposed project site, as well as photographs of the project site;
- A written description of the activity, including, but not limited to, construction methods, time of year the work would occur, a habitat restoration plan (if appropriate, as determined by the Corps), and a construction monitoring plan;
- One cross-section and a minimum of one plan view indicating water bodies, vegetation types, work areas, roads (including temporary construction access roads), restoration sites, refueling and staging areas that will be located within the existing or proposed public right-of-way or temporary construction easements, and environmentally sensitive areas that may provide habitat for the California red-legged frog;
- Information resulting from any site visits, surveys, or habitat assessments conducted for the proposed action;
- A summary of project effects on all life stages of the California red-legged frog; and
- The names and credentials of biologists who will conduct surveys for, monitor, and handle California red-legged frogs. If this information is unknown during submittal, it will be provided to the Service at least 14 days prior to the start of project work activities. Once the Service approves a biologist, the Corps would not need to provide their credentials for subsequent projects conducted pursuant to this consultation.
The Service will respond to the Corps within 15 days of receiving the information listed above, providing a completeness determination or list of additional information required to complete the request. Our response will be in writing, via electronic mail. If the Service determines that use of this programmatic biological opinion is appropriate, we will notify the Corps within 45 days of receiving a complete information package. Our notification will be in writing, via letter or electronic mail. Once the Corps has received the notification, it may authorize the proposed activities pursuant to its own regulations.
If the Service determines that the Corps’ proposed authorization does not satisfy the applicable criteria, we will notify the Corps in writing (via electronic mail) within 30 days, and the standard provisions for section 7(a)(2) consultation will apply. The regulations which implement section 7(a)(2) allow the Service up to 90 days to conclude formal consultation and an additional 45 days to prepare our biological opinion. If we require additional information to complete our biological opinion, we will describe our needs in our initial response. The formal consultation process for the project will not begin until we receive all the information, or a statement explaining why that information cannot be made available.