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On Friday, March 8, 2024, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) announced via email that its interim tools and guidance issued last March, which were set to expire on April 1, 2024, would be available for use until “final tools are issued this summer.”  The Interim Voluntary Guidance and Standing Analysis and Interim Consultation Framework were issued by the USFWS last spring to help interested parties transition to the listing of the NLEB from threatened to endangered because the effective date of the listing was March 31, 2023.

The USFWS is developing new tools and guidance for both the NLEB and the tricolored bat, which also has been proposed for listing as endangered.  Notably, USFWS will share a draft of the new tools and guidance with interested parties during a “preview period,” in order to provide time to ask questions or provide feedback prior to implementation later this summer.

The most important outcome of this announcement is that the USFWS explained:    “For ongoing projects previously reviewed using the interim NLEB tools, no action is needed, except for federal action agencies issued a biological opinion under the Interim Consultation Framework (ICF).”  This means that for projects that have been issued a “no effect” or “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” (“MANLAA”), the time of year restrictions on tree clearing do not apply and this work can continue beyond April 1 until the final guidance is implemented later this summer.

For further questions, please contact Lisa Ivins or Jeff Geiger.

Media Contact

Luis F. Ruiz

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