Incidental Take Authorizations
Photos by Diane Shasteen
The Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act and the Administrative Code for the Incidental Taking of Endangered and Threatened Species allow the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to authorize the "taking" of endangered and threatened species, if that taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity. Proposed projects that are expected to result in the take of listed species as determined by IDNR Impact Assessment staff or otherwise may apply for an Incidental Take Authorization by submitting a Conservation Plan. More detail about the Incidental Take Authorization process may be found in The Applicant's Guide to Incidental Take Authorizations. The Conservation Plan Template is the preferred format.
Important components of the Conservation Plan:
- Pre-project species monitoring is advised and will aid in Conservation Plan development. For large-scale projects with multiple taxonomic groups impacted, the Department recommends the applicant utilize a multi-disciplinary team of taxa specialists (private biological consultants, Illinois Natural History Survey, etc.) who hold the necessary IDNR permits and have access to current species data. The evaluation of alternatives and the development of adaptive management strategies required by the Act are also supported by this effort.
- Identification of avoidance opportunities, i.e. can the project footprint be altered to aid some life history need of a species potentially impacted.
- Identification of minimization opportunities, i.e. can some project action be timed such that impact to a species can be reduced. Consider all potential Best Management Practices here.
- Once avoidance opportunities have been exhausted, the applicant is required by the Act to minimize and mitigate to the "maximum extent practicable." Less minimization requires more mitigation. Mitigation is defined as conservation benefit value to the species potentially impacted, including habitat acquisition, habitat restoration, habitat protection, species research, and/or equivalent compensation earmarked to support the IDNR in taking such actions on the species' behalf.
Post-project minimization and mitigation effectiveness monitoring is required by the Act. Surveys for the species potentially impacted by the project will be required at certain intervals based on the nature of the impacts and the rareness of the species and its habitat. This effort informs and improves future ITA requirements.