Licensing and Permits - Hydraulic Project Approval
Date Published: October 2006
Number of Pages: 32
Author(s): Marc Daily
Overview of Hydraulic Project Approval Habitat Conservation Planning Project
In Washington State, activities that use, divert, obstruct, or change the bed1 or flow of state waters require a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The purpose of the HPA program is to ensure that such activities are completed in a manner that prevents damage to public fish and shellfish resources and their habitats. Because several fish and aquatic species in the state are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), many of the activities requiring an HPA may also require approvals from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Such approvals can be in the form of an ESA Section 7 Incidental Take Statement or an ESA Section 10 Incidental Take Permit (ITP). As authorized in Section 10 of the ESA, ITPs may be issued for otherwise lawful activities that could result in “take” of ESA-listed species or their habitats. In this context, take means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.
To ensure that the HPA program complies with the ESA and to facilitate ESA compliance for citizens conducting work under the HPA authority, the WDFW is working toward development of a programmatic, multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to obtain an ITP from USFWS and NOAA Fisheries (collectively referred to as the Services). Currently, WDFW is in the first year of what is expected to be a six-year project to develop an HCP. An HCP must outline conservation measures for avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating, to the maximum extent practicable, the impact of the permitted take on the potentially covered species.2 The federal Services must also find in their biological opinion that any permitted incidental take will not jeopardize continued existence of the species, i.e., the taking will