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Salmon spawning in a King County river.

Regional guidelines


In January 2002, twenty-four Washington State agencies (including WSDOT) formally submitted a joint routine road maintenance program to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) for approval under Limit 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) section 4(d) rule. The Regional Road Maintenance ESA Program Guidelines (Regional Program) describes physical, structural, and managerial best management practices designed so that when they are used, singularly or in combination, they reduce road maintenance activities’ impacts on water and habitat.

The Federal action of approving the Regional Program under Limit 10 required environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A Programmatic Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared to meet NOAA Fisheries’ environmental documentation requirements under NEPA. In addition, a Sequential EA was developed to more specifically evaluate the environmental consequences associated with the Regional Program. The Sequential EA analysis evaluated various alternatives to the Regional Program and also determined what possible direct, indirect, and cumulative effects on the human environment may occur by approving a Limit 10 submittal from agencies within the State of Washington.

Biological opinion

The Biological Opinion  was prepared by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to section 7 of the Endangered Species Act on the effects of the proposed qualification of the Regional Road Maintenance Program submitted by 25 jurisdictions in Washington State for 12 threatened salmonid ESU's, pursuant to Limit No 10 (ii) of the NMFS 4(d) Rule. In this opinion, NOAA Fisheries concludes that the proposed action is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of ESA-listed salmon or adversely modify their designated critical habitat. This document contains consultation on Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) pursuant to section 305 (d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR Part 600). NOAA Fisheries concludes that the proposed action may adversely affect designated EFH for 47 species of ground fish, 5 costal pelagic species, and 3 species of Pacific Salmon. As required by section 305 (b)(4)(A) of the MSA, included are conservation recommendations that NOAA fisheries believes will avoid, minimize, mitigate, or otherwise offset adverse effects on EFH resulting form the proposed action.

Regional Road Maintenance Endangered Species Act Program Guidelines

In May 1999, the federal government listed the Puget Sound chinook salmon as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In December 1999, the bull trout was also listed as "threatened" in the Puget Sound region. In response to these listings, the Regional Road Maintenance ESA Program Guidelines were developed. The purpose of the Regional Road Maintenance ESA Program Guidelines is to provide a consistent, Regional Program that can be used by any agency wishing to limit, reduce or eliminate the prohibition on take of threatened species under the 4(d) Rule (NMFS), special 4(d) rule and/or Section 7 take exemption (USFWS). The Regional Program consists of the following three parts:

These, along with the introduction and appendices, can be downloaded below.

  • Covers - downloadable  
  • Introduction 
    In May 1999, the federal government listed the Puget Sound Chinook salmon as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. In December, the bull trout was also listed as "threatened" in the Puget Sound region.
  • Part 1 - Regional Program 
    Regional Program Elements is the basic framework for the Regional Road Maintenance ESA Program. It includes ten program elements that make up the Regional Program. Implementation of all ten of the program elements is required for a local agency to obtain a 4(d) take limit (NMFS) special 4(d) rule, and/or a Section 7 take exemption from USFWS.
  • Part 2 - Best Management Practices 
    Best Management Practices is a set of site-specific best management practices (BMPs) for road maintenance. Under the Regional Program, road maintenance, environmental, and engineering design staff can use these BMPs, in addition to routine BMPs presented in Part 1 to achieve conservation outcomes identified in the Guidelines. It is recognized that state regulations and local ordinances or site specific permit conditions may all dictate use of specific BMPs. For that reason, Part 2 offers a menu of possible BMPs from which the most suitable method of maintenance activity can be selected.
  • Part 3 - Application Template 
    The Part 3 Application is an individual agency application for a 4(d) take limit (NMFS), special 4(d) rule and/or Section 7 take exemption, to receive an elimination or reduction of the standing prohibition of take for threatened species (USFWS) under the Regional Program. The Part 3 Application, known as the "plug-and play" part of the Regional Program, allows local agencies to "plug" into Parts 1 and 2 of the program. The Part 3 Application is a specific commitment that an agency will comply with the ten program elements in Part 1.
  • Appendix A 
    A list of contacts for information on the Regional Program.
  • Appendix B 
    A description of the role of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Highway and Local Program (H&LP) or the Regional Forum in screening Part 3 Applications to the Regional Program.
  • Appendix C
    A BMP Outcome Category matrix. It is a tool for planning, selecting and implementing BMPs that achieve the conservation outcomes of the Regional Program.
  • Appendix D
    Four sample checklists agencies can refer to or use to implement the Regional Program. The checklists contain useful steps for planning and selecting BMPs, conducting pre-construction or pre-maintenance meetings, and implementing BMPs.
  • Appendix E
    Fish exclusion protocol.
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Addendum 1 to the Regional Roads Maintenance Program Guidelines (RRMPG) (2008)
    Addendum 1 reflects the adaptive management improvements which include new technologies, new best management practices developed by field crews, and lessons learned since implementation of Regional Program. Adaptive management improvements to the guidelines, in concurrence with NOAA Fisheries and the Regional Forum, may occur as needed to meet the outcomes outlined in the RRMPG. The guidelines will be updated accordingly to reflect these improvements. To obtain a copy of Addendum 1, please contact Janine Johanson by e-mail.
  • King County's 4(d) Submittal Letter and Part 3 Application
    Under the Regional Program, each agency must prepare a Part 3 Application. Currently 30 local jurisdictions, including WSDOT, have applied for and are receiving a take limit from NMFS.
  • NOAA approval letter for King County
    Take prohibitions under section 9 of the ESA and applicable 4(d) rules will not apply to the routine road maintenance practices carried out by King County in accordance with that plan, and are implemented in accordance with the requirements of this letter.
  • Sequential Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) related to approving implementation of a Routine Road Maintenance Program for jurisdictions in Washington State under Limit 10 of the ESA July 2000 4(d) Rule (50 CFR 223.203(b)(10))
    The Sequential Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact of the program prepared by NOAA fisheries. This document satisfies the NEPA requirements of the program.
  • King County's SEPA adoption of the Sequential EA and FONSI completed by NOAA Fisheries
    This document is a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) adoption for a Determination of Nonsignificance (DNS) of NOAA Fisheries NW Region Sequential Environmental Assessment (EA) for Routine Road Maintenance Activities.
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