Wednesday, April 12, 2023 | 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Moderator: Christie Blevins, PWS, CESSWI, LEED AP | WSSI | Director – Regulatory

WSSI brought together speakers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, AquaLaw, and our own staff for an update on the protections for northern long eared bat and other changes in the realm of natural resource regulation. Waters of the U.S. was also a hot topic, as the injunction decision was handed down by a North Dakota federal court on the same day.

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Click on the section titles below to view presentations.


NLEB Update Session

Ben Rosner, PWS, PWD, CE | WSSI | Director – Environmental Science

Ben discussed the background of the NLEB listing. He reviewed the species, its habitat, why it was originally listed, and what brought us to the current listing. Additionally, Ben touched on other endangered bat species of concern, including the pending listing of the tricolored bat.

Legal Perspective: USFWS 4d Rule, Uplisting, and Legal Requirements

Justin Curtis | AquaLaw | Vice President

Justin explained what the 4(d) rule is and why it is no longer available for the NLEB. Additionally, Justin discussed the legal implications of the NLEB’s uplisting on March 31, 2023, as well as what to expect after April 1, 2024 when the Interim Consultation Framework is no longer valid. Without the streamlined process and certainty provided by the 4(d) rule, the public will need to be more cautious about activities that have the potential to harm NLEB, such as tree clearing. Justin also touched on what to anticipate with the future tricolored bat uplisting.

USFWS Perspective: Where We Are Now, What to Expect

Julie Thompson-Slacum | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | MD Division Chief, Strategic Resource Conservation

Julie reviewed the tools that USFWS has provided including but not limited to the DKey, IPac Updates, and Interim Consultation Framework. Julie also provided an overview of what Stakeholders, with and without federal actions, need to do to ensure they are adhering to the latest guidance regarding the NLEB. Lastly, she also discussed what to anticipate leading up to, and after April 1, 2024, when the interim guidance is no longer in effect.

COE Perspective: Process and Timing

Kim Prisco-Baggett | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Norfolk District | Chief, Special Projects Section and Deputy Chief, Regulatory Branch

Kim provided an overview of the COE’s process for NLEB, Section 7 coordination, as it pertains to those projects that will be requesting a wetland permit, those projects that have a pending permit, as well as those project that have already been issued a wetland permit under the 4d rule. Kim also discussed how the COE is handling the pending tricolored bat uplisting.


Steve Hardwick | Va. Dept. of Environmental Quality, Office of Wetlands and Stream Protection | VWP Permit and Compliance Coordinator

Steve provided a brief overview of DEQ’s perspective on the NLEB uplisting and how they will handle coordination for state only wetland permits as well as State Programmatic Permits (SPGPs) wherein DEQ issues permits on behalf of the COE.

*DEQ did not use slides for this presentation; you can click the link to access the relevant part of our webinar video.

Regulatory Updates

Bob Kerr, PWS, PWD | WSSI | Director – Hampton Roads Division

Bob provided a brief update on pertinent changes from the new Waters of the U.S. Rule which went into effect on March 20, 2023, and discussed where it stands today. Bob also discussed Norfolk Districts de-prioritization of JDs that are not associated with a permit request in accordance with the Public Notice anticipated the week of April 9th.


Justin Curtis | AquaLaw | Vice President

Justin provided a brief explanation of HB 2181, why it was proposed, how it will affect VA non-tidal stream permit applications, and when the bill is anticipated to go into effect.


Justin Curtis | AquaLaw | Vice President

Justin summarized recent developments at the federal and state level to integrate environmental justice considerations into agency permit actions. Justin touched on steps the regulated community should consider prior to filing permit applications and what to anticipate after applications have been submitted.


Jacob Bucher | WSSI | Southern Regional Manager – Environmental Compliance

Jacob briefly discussed the recent changes to the Maryland Construction General Permit that went into effect on April 1, 2023. Jacob also discussed the status of the VA CGP.



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