50 CFR 402.31 - Purpose.
The purpose of these counterpart regulations is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the consultation process under section 7 of the ESA for Fire Plan Projects by providing an optional alternative to the procedures found in §§ 402.13 and 402.14(b) of this part. These regulations permit an Action Agency to enter into an Alternative Consultation Agreement (ACA) with the Service, as described in § 402.33, which will allow the Action Agency to determine that a Fire Plan Project is “not likely to adversely affect” (NLAA) a listed species or designated critical habitat without formal or informal consultation with the Service or written concurrence from the Service. An NLAA determination for a Fire Plan Project made under an ACA, as described in § 402.33, completes the Action Agency's statutory obligation to consult with the Service for that Project. In situations where the Action Agency does not make an NLAA determination under the ACA, the Action Agency would still be required to conduct formal consultation with the Service when required by § 402.14. This process will be as protective to listed species and designated critical habitat as the process established in subpart B of this part. The standards and requirements for formal consultation under subpart B for Fire Plan Projects that do not receive an NLAA determination are unchanged.