Fish and Wildlife policies and procedures

Follow these policies and procedures to understand and remain compliant with the federal and state regulations protecting fish, wildlife and habitat during transportation projects and activities.

To limit impacts on natural resources, and threatened or endangered species, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) developed guidance for their consultants and WSDOT staff to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations.

Use the following links to access details about these regulations as well as WSDOT guidance and protocol documents.

Read Chapter 436: Fish, Wildlife & Vegetation of our Environmental Manual for a summary of regulations associated with fish, wildlife, and vegetation resources, as well as guidance on how to address these regulations for common types of projects.

WSDOT guidance & protocols

  • Executive Order 1031, Protections and Connections for High Quality Natural Habitats – This executive order is WSDOT’s habitat connectivity policy directive. It mandates consideration of habitat values and wildlife movement needs in all transportation activities.
  • Guidance on placement of concrete barriers (pdf 66 kb) – Use this document is to facilitate collaboration between Design and Environmental staff in determining the effect of concrete barrier placement on wildlife and public safety.
  • WSDOT fish exclusion protocols & standards (pdf 232 kb) – Use these protocols and standards for projects requiring fish removal or exclusion from a project work area due to in-water work or de-watering activities.

Other state regulations

  • Title 220 of the Washington Administrative Code contains the bulk of state regulations pertaining to fish and wildlife in Washington state.
  • Species of concern in Washington include those on the state endangered, threatened, sensitive, and candidate lists. Washington state has its own criteria for listing a species as endangered, threatened, sensitive, and candidate. Some of these species may also be listed under the federal ESA. The Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Code protects species against unlawful activities.

Endangered Species Act and Biological Assessments

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires that individuals and projects avoid “take” of listed endangered and threatened species and their protected habitats. At the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), we evaluate all of our projects and complete ESA documentation as required.

You must comply with NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) if your project has federal funding, is on federal land, or if permits are required from a federal agency. All WSDOT projects must comply with SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act). Find protocols, templates, and checklists here for evaluating wildlife, fisheries, or vegetation resources on transportation projects.

You must consider potential impacts to marine mammals for all WSDOT projects that involve marine waters, as well as the Columbia River up to Bonneville Dam.

You must comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act if a federal agency has authorized, funded, or undertaken activities that may adversely affect the essential fish habitat of relevant fisheries.

All WSDOT projects must comply with the Eagle Act. Find required information to remain in compliance with this act here.