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Guidance for Projects that Affect Fish and Wildlife Habitat

Who issues permits for projects that may affect fish and wildlife habitat?

Multiple state and federal agencies are responsible for issuing permits for development projects that could affect fish and wildlife habitat.  Those agencies are required by law, or may choose to request the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) review the permit applications to determine the potential impact of the project on fish and wildlife habitat. This includes permits for energy facility siting, mining, removal/fill, water rights, water quality, land use changes, and many other activities.

ODFW does not usually issue permits for these projects. Instead, ODFW reviews permit applications on behalf of the permitting agency to identify the potential impact of proposed projects on fish and wildlife habitat.

Where permitted by law or policy, ODFW may make recommendations to the permitting agency on strategies to avoid or replace habitat that is damaged by the proposed project. The permitting agency may choose to include the ODFW recommendations for mitigation as a requirement of the final permit.

What laws and policies guide ODFW review of projects?

The Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Policy guides ODFW comments and recommendations on permit applications. The policy identifies preferred strategies to avoid or mitigate the impact of the proposed project on fish and wildlife habitat based on the importance of the habitat to a particular species of fish or wildlife. Depending upon the importance of the habitat, ODFW may recommend a variety of approaches to offset or replace habitat affected by the proposed project. The permitting agency may choose to incorporate the ODFW recommendations into the final permit for a project.

The Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Policy also guides the review of projects where ODFW is the permitting agency, including Fish Screening and Passage and in-water blasting permits.

Can I Contact ODFW to discuss a project?

Yes.  You are encouraged to contact ODFW early in the process. While the final decision on the project is often made by another agency, you are encouraged to discuss the project with staff from an ODFW regional office as early as possible. This may help identify potential issues and impacts on fish and wildlife habitat. Once the permitting process is underway, ODFW and the permitting agency can work with you to identify appropriate mitigation for those impacts. Addressing these impacts while the project is still being designed may speed up final action on the permit by the permitting agency.

ODFW Programs

Water Quality and Quantity Program
Staff in the Water Quality/Quantity Program is involved with many water issues that can directly or indirectly affect fish and wildlife. This includes commenting on applications for water use that may impact streams, reviewing and conducting instream flow studies, and reviewing hydroelectric facility applications.

Fish Passage Program
The Fish Passage Program is responsible for implementing state fish passage laws, providing resources and information for those affected by the laws, or seeking to improve passage.  Fish passage requirements may also be need to be addressed as a condition of a water right or may be triggered by a change in the permit status.

Fish Screening Program
The Fish Screening Program assists water users install fish screens on diversions to prevent the loss of fish while allowing the water user to receive and use their water.  Fish screening may also need to be addressed as a condition of a water right.

Habitat Resources Program
Staff in the Habitat Resources Program helps guide land-use activities that affect fish and wildlife habitats. The program offers tax incentives, grants and technical assistance to private and public landowners, businesses and governments regarding land-use activities and proposed developments, removal-and-fill actions, energy facility siting, mining, transportation, and forest management issues.

Marine Resources Program
The Marine Resources Program (MRP) is based in Newport with field offices in Astoria, Charleston and Brookings. Staff is responsible for the monitoring, sampling, research and management of both the commercial and recreational marine fisheries. Staff also provides technical support and policy recommendations to state, federal, regional and international decision-makers who develop management strategies from shore out to 200 miles that affect Oregon fish and shellfish stocks, fisheries, and coastal communities.

We encourage you to contact ODFW early in your project planning efforts.

Useful Links

State of Oregon Permitting Agencies


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