On Tuesday, March 6, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published the Interim Consultation Framework, the Interim Guidance for Habitat Modification, and the Interim Wind Guidance for the Northern Long-eared Bat (NLEB). A Rangewide Determination Key (DKey) was also published, and linked to on the USFWS Information for Planning and Consultation tool on Wednesday, March 7. Modifications to the Determination Key are still forthcoming. A link to the USFWS’s NLEB webpage is below and it includes these guidance tools.

The Interim Consultation Framework, valid through April 1, 2024, is for use with projects requiring a federal action (for example a wetland permit). This Framework was created to help federal agencies streamline consultations and improve efficiency and consistency. The USFWS is in the process of incorporating known locations of the NLEB into the DKey process so that users “can receive automatic concurrence for projects in areas where take is not reasonably certain to occur.” These updates and automated process of the DKey is anticipated to become available March 17, 2023. Once this information is released, we can begin to better understand which projects, based on their location, will likely be required to adhere to Time of Year Restrictions1 for clearing of forested habitat.

For those projects that do not involve a federal action, USFWS specified that compliance with the Endangered Species Act is still required. Note that the DKey is also being updated for this process and will be available for non-federal projects by March 31, the effective date of the final rule.

The USFWS continues to release information regarding the NLEB; WSSI will keep on top of any changes to the guidance.

We Can Help!

WSSI is planning a webinar on the NLEB up-listing in April; Field Notes subscribers will be sent a “Save the Date” mailing and then an invitation as we finalize the details. Contact your WSSI Project Manager or the staff listed below to discuss how NLEB relates to your projects and any potential implications of the new guidance.


1 Note that the Time of Year Restrictions vary by state and even by location within a state depending on if a project is within a swarming area, a non-swarming area, or a year-round resident area.


  • Ben Rosner, PWS, PWD, CE, VSWD

    Director - Environmental Science

    Gainesville, VA

  • Christie Blevins, PWS, CESSWI, LEED AP

    Director - Regulatory

    Gainesville, VA

  • Michael Klebasko, PWS, QFP

    Manager - Maryland Environmental Science

    Millersville, MD

  • Bob Kerr, VCPWD, VSWD, SPWS

    Director – Hampton Roads Division

    Virginia Beach, VA