All projects must be evaluated to determine if any endangered or threatened species or their habitat have the potential to occur within the project area, which may be affected by the project. Pursuant to 23 USC 326 and 327 Caltrans is assigned FHWA’s responsibilities for consultation and coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for transportation projects. By statute, the State is deemed to be a federal agency for these assigned responsibilities.
The Federal Endangered Species Act (FESA) and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) are the Federal and State laws that enforce protection of threatened and endangered species. Coordination with the USFWS, NMFS and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is essential in order to make an effect determination for Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, and Candidate species and designated critical habitat. Section 7 of the FESA outlines the procedures for interagency cooperation between a federal action agency and USFWS and NMFS to conserve federally-listed species and designated critical habitats.
Unlike section 7 of FESA, there are no state agency consultation procedures under CESA. For projects that affect both a state and federally-listed species, compliance with the FESA will satisfy CESA if the CDFW determines that the federal incidental take authorization is "consistent" with CESA under Fish & Game Code Section 2080.1. For projects that will result in a take of a state only listed species, Caltrans must apply for an incidental take permit under Section 2081(b). The term "Special-status species" is often used when discussing the processes described above, however, it is a general term that refers to all species that are considered to be of interest biologically, regardless of their legal or protection status.