Environmental Review Toolkit

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About This Site
The ESA Webtool is an online tool to help project proponents prepare complete Biological Assessments (BAs) for projects where the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead federal action agency.  The purpose of the Web tool is to:
  • Help BA-preparers adequately prepare BAs for consultation with the federal Services agencies.
  • Expedite internal assurance reviews.
  • Increase consistency from project-to-project and region-to-region.
  • Reduce project delays from incomplete BAs and requests for additional information.
  • Streamline decision-making review and transaction times, increase quality of documentation and submitted materials, and promote accountability and transparency through tracking and reporting.
The ESA Webtool was developed as an online solution to meet some of the challenges posed by paper-based development, submittal and review of BAs, including:
  • BA Development . . .
    • Sharing and managing files can be a challenge.
    • Finding good and relevant examples of prior BAs to start new BAs can be difficult.
    • Researching listed species can be time-consuming and incomplete without adequate access to federal information and datasets.
    • Processing and formatting requirements vary from state to state.
  • BA Submittal . . .
    • Mailing hard copies adds time and increases uncertainty.
    • Maintaining a detailed administrative record is cumbersome.
    • Documents lack consistency in structure and layout.
    • Inadequate instructions lead to incomplete or incorrect BAs.
  • BA Review . . .
    • Review and response cycles can be long and irregular.
    • Review process is not always transparent and can be inconsistent.
The ESA Webtool was launched on a pilot basis in 2008 in three states: New York (March), Washington (June), and Texas (October).  In January 2009, FHWA conducted a survey of the pilot states.  The responses were encouraging (see March 2009 ESA-FHWA Newsletter located to the left in the "Library" navigation section of the page). The ESA Webtool was subsequently upgraded and launched for Nationwide use in July 2009.  Upgrades included:
  • Automatic e-mail notification on file upload.
  • FAQ/knowledge base.
  • Archive feature.
  • Remove personal information from user profiles.
  • Improve file upload/download capabilities.
  • Enhanced navigation within site.
The ESA Webtool is a tool for State DOTs, FHWA and federal Services agencies to all collectively improve development, submittal, and review of ESA Section 7 BAs.  As a tool its utility will improve over time based on user feedback.  To provide feedback to help shape the future of the ESA-FHWA Web tool, please Contact Us .


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