The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, (16 U.S.C. 661-666c; Act of March 10, 1934, as amended) proposes to assure that fish and wildlife resources receive equal consideration with other values during the planning of water resources development projects. The Act was passed because the goals of water-related projects (e.g., flood control, irrigation, navigation, hydroelectric power) may conflict with the goal of conserving fish and wildlife resources. Conversely, developers can design water development projects to enhance the quality and enjoyment of fish and wildlife resources if such goals are incorporated into project plans.
The Act authorizes the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to provide assistance to and cooperate with federal, state, and public or private agencies and organizations in the development and protection of wildlife resources and habitat; make surveys and investigations of the wildlife in the public domain; and accept donations of land and funds that will further the purposes of the Act.
The FWCA requires U.S. Department of Energy to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service whenever it plans to conduct, license, or permit an activity involving the impoundment, diversion, deepening, control, or modification of a stream or body of water. The Act also requires consultation with the head of the state agency that administers wildlife resources in the affected state. The purpose of this process is to promote conservation of wildlife resources by preventing loss of and damage to such resources and to provide for the development and improvement of wildlife resources in connection with the agency action.
Although the recommendations of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and state officials are not binding, the federal agency must give them full consideration. Furthermore, any reports and recommendations made by those officials become an integral part of any report prepared by the responsible federal agency when seeking authorization for the water-resource development project. Such a report must also include an estimate of the wildlife benefits or losses to be derived from the proposed project and a description of the conservation measures the agency finds should be adopted to obtain maximum overall project benefits.
The FWCA authorizes federal agencies to acquire lands in connection with water development projects for use in activities designed to conserve and enhance wildlife resources. These activities should be conducted in accordance with plans approved by the federal agency, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and the head of the applicable state agency. The report that accompanies the authorization request should describe the probable extent of land acquisition.
In other conservation provisions the FWCA authorizes the Secretary (through the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Mines) to investigate and report to Congress on the effects of domestic sewage; mining, petroleum, and industrial wastes; erosion silt; and other pollutants on wildlife and to make recommendations for alleviating their effects. It also directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider fish and wildlife resources and habitats in its management of water levels in the upper Mississippi River.
Two general types of activities exempt from the Act are (1) water impoundments with a surface area of less than ten acres (approximately 4 ha) and (2) programs for land management and use carried out by federal agencies on land under their jurisdiction. In addition the provisions of the Act do not apply to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
See also environmental laws of United States Fish and Wildlife Service
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