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  1. Illinois DNR
  2. Conservation
  3. Natural Heritage

Applying for an Incidental Take Authorization

Applicants must submit a conservation plan that will undergo preliminary review before it is made available to the public. Applicants will notify the public in a local newspaper, statewide newspaper, and make the conservation plan available at a public library. Applicants will respond to public comments on the conservation plan. IDNR will then complete a final review of the conservation plan. The whole process typically takes four to five months and is fastest when conservation plans are complete, detailed, and proactive.

ITA questions and correspondence should be sent to DNR.ITACoordinator@Illinois.gov

Conservation Plan 

Incidental taking of endangered and threatened species shall be authorized by the IDNR only if the applicant submits to the Department a conservation plan (conservation plan template) that meets the following criteria.

  1. A description of the impact likely to result from the proposed taking of the species that would be covered by the authorization, including but not limited to:
    1. legal description, if available, or detailed description including street address, map, and GIS shapefile of the area to be affected by the proposed action and indiciation of ownership or control of affected property;
    2. biological data on the affected species; often applicants provide reports on pre-construction surveys
    3. description of the activities that will result in the taking of an endangered or threatened species, including:
      • estimated number of individuals to be taken
      • location and amount of suitable habitat to be impacted (indicated on a map)
      • a timeline of proposed activities
    4. explanation of the anticipated adverse effects on listed species.
  2. Measures the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate that impact and the funding that will be available to undertake those measures, including, but not limited to:
    1. plans to minimize the area and number of individuals affected by the proposed action
    2. plans for management of the area affected by the proposed action that will enable continued use of the area by endangered or threatened species;
    3. description of all measures to be implemented to minimize or mitigate the effects of the proposed action on endangered or threatened species, it is the applicants responsibility to propose mitigation measures such as habitat restoration, conservation easement, species research, or otherwise
    4. plans for monitoring the effects of measures implemented to minimize or mitigate the effects of the proposed action on endangered or threatened species, such as monitoring species and habitat prior to and 2 and 5 years post activity and reporting results to ESPB, NH database, and IDNR.
    5. adaptive management practices that will be used to deal with changed or unforeseen circumstances that affect the effectiveness of measures instituted to minimize or mitigate the effects of the proposed action on endangered or threatened species, such management practices should include contingencies and may be triggered by monitoring results
    6. verification that adequate funding exists to support and implement all mitigation activities described in the conservation plan. This may be in the form of bonds, certificates of insurance, escrow accounts or other financial instruments adequate to carry out all aspects of the conservation plan.
  3. A description of alternative actions the applicant considered that would not result in take, and the reasons that each of those alternatives was not selected. A “no-action” alternative shall be included in this description of alternatives.
  4. Data and information to indicate that the proposed taking will not reduce the likelihood of the survival of the endangered or threatened species in the wild within the State of Illinois, the biotic community of which the species is a part, or the habitat essential to the species existence in Illinois.
  5. An implementing agreement, which shall include, but not be limited to:
    1. the names and signatures of all participants in the execution of the conservation plan;
    2. the obligations and responsibilities of each of the identified participants with schedules and deadlines for completion of activities included in the conservation plan and a schedule for preparation of progress reports to be provided to the Department;
    3. certification that each participant in the execution of the conservation plan has the legal authority to carry out their respective obligations and responsibilities under the conservation plan;
    4. assurance of compliance with all other federal, State and local regulations pertinent to the proposed action and to execution of the conservation plan; and
    5. copies of any final federal authorizations for a taking already issued to the applicant, if any.

    Note: A Habitat Conservation Plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 [26 USC 1539], and amendments thereto, may be submitted in lieu of the conservation plan described in this Section. Authorization to take an endangered or threatened species under the terms of a biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 [26 USC 1536], and amendments thereto, or regulations implementing Section 7 [50 CFR 402] may be submitted in lieu of the conservation plan described in this Section. However, federal authorization does not supplant state authorization.

Preliminary Review

IDNR shall review conservation plans to ensure all the above material is included within 30 days and notify the applicant in writing if the conservation plan contains are the necessary elements or if there are deficiencies that need to be addressed. Additional materials will be considered part of the conservation plan.

Public Notice

Once applicants are notified that their conservation plan contains the necessary elements the applicant shall notify the public in both a local newspaper and a state Newspaper.

The applicant shall place a notice in a local newspaper of general circulation in the locality of the proposed action at least once a week for 3 consecutive weeks. At least 14 days shall elapse between the first and last publications of the notice. The notice shall also be published one time in the official State newspaper, concurrent with the first publication in a local newspaper of general circulation. A copy of the notice as it will appear in the newspaper shall be submitted to the Department for approval before the first publication.

The public notice shall include, at a minimum, the following:

  1. the name and mailing address of the applicant;

  2. a map or description that clearly shows or describes the precise location and boundaries of both the area to be affected by the proposed project and any areas to be affected by provisions of the conservation plan and is sufficient to enable local residents to readily identify the subject areas. It must include towns, bodies of water, local landmarks, or any other information that would identify the subject areas. If a map is used, it shall indicate the north direction;

  3. a summary of the incidental taking for which authorization is being requested;

  4. a summary of the measures that will be instituted to minimize and mitigate the effects of the proposed incidental taking;

  5. the location where a copy of the conservation plan is available for inspection;

  6. the street and e-mail address of the office of the Department to which comments on the conservation plan may be submitted; and

  7. the closing date for receipt of written comments on the conservation plan.

The applicant will provide copies of the conservation plan to be available for review at the nearest public library in the county or counties in which the proposed action will occur. IDNR may also make it available online.

Public Comment

The public has 30 days from the last day of public notice to submit comments to IDNR. The applicant shall evaluate the public comments and submit an analysis of the comments no later than 10 days after the close of the public comment period. The analysis shall include:

  • a list of all persons or organizations making comment;
  • a list of the criticisms, suggestions and comments raised;
  • the applicant’s analysis of each criticism, suggestion or comment.
  • a description of any revision to the Conservation Plan that the applicant is making in response to public comment.

Endangered Species Protection Board Notice

The applicant will provide copies to the Executive Director of the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board.

Final Review

The IDNR shall complete its review of the conservation plan within 120 days after the first publication of the notice. After reviewing the conservation plan, the Department may authorize the incidental taking if the Department finds that the taking will meet all of the following requirements:

  1. the taking will not be the purpose of, but will be only incidental to, the carrying out of an otherwise lawful activity;

  2. the parties to the conservation plan will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize and mitigate the impact caused by the taking;

  3. the parties to the conservation plan will ensure that adequate funding for the conservation plan will be provided as described in Section 1080.10(a)(2)(F);

  4. based on the best available scientific data, the Department has determined that the taking will not reduce the likelihood of the survival of the endangered species or threatened species in the wild within the State of Illinois, the biotic community of which the species is a part, or the habitat essential to the species’ existence in Illinois; include info on other ITA for the species

  5. any additional measures, based upon the life history needs of the species involved, that the Department may require as necessary or appropriate for the purposes of the conservation plan will be performed;

  6. the public has received notice of the availability of the conservation plan and has had the opportunity to comment before the Department made any decision regarding the authorization of incidental take; and

  7. the Department has sought the advice of the Board and provided written response to any Board comments regarding the issuance of authorization for incidental taking and on the terms of any authorization to be issued.

If the Department finds that the conservation plan does not meet the above requirements, the Department may require that a party to the conservation plan make additional assurances or agree to additional terms and conditions.