KDWPT Action Permit Program
The Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act places the responsibility for identifying and undertaking appropriate conservation measures for threatened and endangered wildlife species directly upon the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Although few in number, with their populations in jeopardy, these species constitute an important part of Kansas' wildlife heritage and serve as important barometers to the overall quality of life being enjoyed by all Kansans. In order to carry out this responsibility, it has been necessary for the department to implement protective regulations. Kansas Administrative Regulations provide protection for critical habitats that will be affected by proposed actions such as road and bridge construction, flood control structures, pipeline installation, etc. It is necessary for sponsors of any proposed action covered by this regulation to be aware of its requirements.
The first step an action sponsor must take is to determine if a permit is actually needed. By reviewing the species lists, county lists, and range maps one likely can make a cursory determination whether listed species are likely to occur where the proposed action is located.
In general, any proposed action that will involve physical alteration or disturbance of habitats of the types described in K.A.R. 115-15-3may be subject to the requirements therein. Anytime a project will affect wildlife habitats such as streams, wetlands or other poorly drained areas, riparian areas, native woodland, or native prairie, the project should be reviewed for potential use by threatened or endangered species. Some of the listed species have restricted habitat requirements and are extremely vulnerable to changes at smaller scales.
When contacting the department about a project's potential impact, it is very important the contact is made early in the planning phase of the proposed action. Many unnecessary costs, delays, and extra paperwork can be avoided if any needed mitigation measures can be considered before an inflexible "final" design has been adopted. Frequently, early coordination can develop alternatives that will eliminate the need for a permit entirely.
Upon determination of permit requirements, a formal application can be submitted. To avoid delays, it is important to provide a complete and accurate description of the proposed action. Once issued, a permit is applicable only to the action described therein. Subsequent alterations or variances to the permitted action may result in delays and will require amending the permit.
Upon receipt of a complete application, an evaluation will be made of the proposed project's probable effects to threatened or endangered species. In most cases, it will be necessary to place special conditions on a permit whereby the permit holder will be required to incorporate specific mitigation measures designed to significantly reduce or eliminate a project's adverse impacts to the protected species. All permits issued will carry general conditions to inform the action sponsor what is and is not covered by the permit.
As a general rule, permit applications will be completely processed within 30 days of receipt by the Environmental Services Section. Applicants may not begin any work that requires a permit before issuance of same.
Q. Which Species are Protected?
A. The Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act is a compilation of twelve statutes that provides the Department of Wildlife and Parks broad responsibility and authority over wildlife that are determined to be threatened or endangered within the state because of any of the following factors:
(1) The present or threatened destruction, modification or curtailment of its habitat or range;
(2) The overuse of such species for commercial, sporting, scientific, educational or other purposes;
(3) Disease or predation;
(4) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(5) The presence of other natural or man-made factors affecting its continued existence within the state.
The act not only requires identifying and listing threatened and endangered species; it also requires the department to undertake efforts to conserve listed species and pursue increasing their populations to the point they are no longer threatened or endangered. The act requires the department to amend existing lists as necessary for those species requiring protection under the act.
To implement these statutory directives, the department developed administrative regulations to (1) identify those wildlife species found to be threatened and endangered ( K.A.R. 115-15-1 ), and (2) establish a mechanism to address protection of habitats for species listed as threatened and endangered ( K.A.R. 115-15-3 ).
Q. What actions are subject to these regulations?
A. Any action which is totally or partially funded with public money or requires a permit from a state or federal agency. Examples of such actions would be state, county, township road improvements, flood control dams, road and bridge construction, sanitary land-fills, and state or federally permitted actions such as dams, stream channel alterations, waste dumps, sewer plants, airports, and power plants.
Q. When will a subject action require an action permit?
A. If any of the covered actions mentioned above will impact threatened or endangered species or their critical habitats, a permit will be required from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks before construction begins. If no threatened or endangered species or their critical habitats are affected, then no permit is required.
Q. When should I submit an action permit application?
A. Permit applications should be submitted as early as possible but no less than 90 days prior to start of construction. It is much easier to avoid problems during plan development than it is to change plans that have been finalized. Action permit applications are available online.
Q. If a proposed action is not subject under the requirements listed above, then is it still subject to potential permit requirements?
A. Regulations do establish the authority for the department to regulate actions that are funded by sources other than public monies only when these actions result in the intentional destruction of a threatened or endangered species. In this regard, the regulation provides only slightly more protection to threatened or endangered species beyond that already included in the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. However, it does establish a mechanism by which the department can authorize private landowners' activities to be carried out when threatened or endangered species may be affected but not significantly harmed.