FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Brian Gorman
|NOAA News Releases 2002
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INTO ITS SECOND PHASE
Tracking government actions to protect Northwest salmon under the Endangered Species Act became a bit easier today. The Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service started a new phase of an Internet tracking system that allows federal agencies in the Northwest to instantly follow the progress of salmon consultations with NOAA Fisheries at any stage. NOAA Fisheries is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Commerce Department.
Federal agencies are required to consult with NOAA Fisheries whenever they do anything that might affect federally protected salmon or their habitat. These consultations often result in the federal agency's issuing a permit before activities like construction, logging or road building can begin.
"Last June NOAA Fisheries rolled out the first stage of a pilot program that uses web-based technology to improve customer service and make the permitting process more open and more publicly accessible," said Commerce Department Secretary Don Evans. "We're now in the second stage of that process. My goal is to make sure we give first-rate service to every citizen, all the time."
Evans explained that phase one let permit applicants track the progress of consultations between the Army Corps of Engineers and NOAA Fisheries' Northwest region. Phase two will let any federal agencies involved in the consultation process in Washington, Oregon or Idaho check on a permit's progress. Evans said that the ultimate goal of the program is to let any citizen with access to a computer track any salmon-related consultation in the system.
Although many salmon-related permits are issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, others can come from such federal agencies as the Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Transportation or the Bureau of Land Management.
Starting this week, the federal agencies involved in salmon consultation will be able to join permit applicants in receiving important information about current or recently completed consultations. The new system allows access to consultations required by either the Endangered Species Act or the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The Northwest region was selected as a testing area for the tracking system because of its increasing number of permit applications by governments, businesses and private citizens that may have an impact on protected salmon or their habitat.
NOAA Fisheries is an agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat.
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