Members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg and Mobile districts Regulatory Divisions were recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Department of the Interior, April 27, 2021, for their contributions to the MS SLOPES project.
The Mississippi Standard Operating Procedure for Endangered Species (MS SLOPES) is a one-stop tool that allows districts to fulfill responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act, or ESA. Each of the 44 documents cover a different federally listed endangered and threatened species in Mississippi.
USFWS named the team its Environmental Review and Permitting Champion as part of its Environmental Leadership Award. Additionally, the MS U.S. Department of the Interior Award recipients included Regulatory Division Chief Jennifer Mallard, Permit and Evaluation Branch Chief Cori Carraway, senior environmental specialist Jennifer Brown and retired senior environmental specialist Mike Stewart.
“Consultations and evaluations are a major part of our mission to remain good environmental stewards and fulfill our responsibilities under the ESA. MS SLOPES is a major tool to help us achieve that effort, and we’re incredibly proud of the countless hours of work that made it a reality,” Regulatory Division Chief Jennifer Mallard said.
The district’s Regulatory Division collaborated with the USACE Mobile District to create a streamlined consultation framework to evaluate permit seekers. In addition to USACE, experts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Mississippi Ecological Services Office (USFWS MS-ESO) also contributed to the project.
“This effort couldn’t have been possible without our dedicated U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partners and USACE Regulatory personnel. Together, we created a lasting framework that USACE and the Service will utilize for years to come,” said USACE Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard.
Historically, standard procedure required agencies to complete separate project-specific ESA evaluations and consultations for regulated activities.
At the time of development, the tool was the largest of its kind within the agency. In addition to USFWS MS-ESO, four USACE districts and three divisions utilize the framework.