(a) Authorized taking. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, after obtaining the advice of the Endangered Species Committee, the Secretary may permit, under such terms and conditions as the Secretary may require as necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter the taking of a threatened or endangered species, the destruction of or adverse impact on critical habitat, or any act otherwise prohibited by this chapter if done for any of the following purposes:
(1) scientific purposes;
(2) to enhance the propagation or survival of a threatened or endangered species;
(3) zoological exhibition;
(4) educational purposes;
(5) noncommercial cultural or ceremonial purposes; or
(6) special purposes consistent with the purposes of the federal Endangered Species Act...
(h) Permit application. An applicant for a permit under this section shall submit an application to the Secretary that includes the following information:
(1) a description of the activities that could lead to a taking of a listed threatened or endangered species or the destruction of or adverse impact on critical habitat;
(2) the steps that the applicant has or will take to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impact to the relevant threatened or endangered species or critical habitat;
(3) a plan for ensuring that funding is available to conduct any required monitoring and mitigation, if applicable;
(4) a summary of the alternative actions to the taking or destruction of critical habitat that the applicant considered and the reasons that these alternatives were not selected, if applicable;
(5) the name or names and obligations and responsibilities of the person or persons that will be involved in the proposed taking or destruction of critical habitat; and
(6) any additional information that the Secretary may require.
(i) Permit fees.
(1) Fees to be charged to a person applying to take a threatened or endangered species under this section shall be:
(A) to take for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, noncommercial cultural or ceremonial purposes, or for educational purposes or special purposes consistent with the federal Endangered Species Act, $50.00;
(B) to take for a zoological or botanical exhibition, $250.00 for each listed wildlife or wild plant taken up to a maximum of $25,000.00; and
(C) for an incidental taking, $250.00 for each listed wildlife or wild plant taken up to a maximum of $25,000.00.
(2) The Secretary may require the implementation of mitigation strategies and may collect mitigation funds, in addition to the permit fees, in order to mitigate the impacts of a taking or the destruction of or adverse impact on critical habitat. Mitigation may include:
(A) a requirement to rectify the taking or adverse impact or to reduce the adverse impact over time;
(B) a requirement to manage or restore land within the area of the proposed activity or in an area outside the proposed area as habitat for the threatened or endangered species; or
(C) compensation, including payment into the Threatened and Endangered Species Fund for the uses of that Fund, provided that any payment is commensurate with the taking or adverse impact proposed.
(3) Fees and mitigation payments collected under this subsection and interest on fees and mitigation payments shall be deposited in the Threatened and Endangered Species Fund and shall be used solely for expenditures of the Department of Fish and Wildlife related to threatened and endangered species. Expenditures may be made for monitoring, restoration, conservation, recovery, and the acquisition of property interests and other purposes consistent with this chapter. Where practical, the fees collected for takings shall be devoted to the conservation or recovery of the taken species or its habitat. Interest accrued on the Fund shall be credited to the Fund.
(j) Permit term. A permit issued under this section shall be valid for the period of time specified in the permit, not to exceed five years. A permit issued under this section may be renewed upon application to the Secretary.
(k) Public notice. Prior to issuing a permit for an incidental taking and prior to the initial issuance or amendment of a general permit under this section, the Secretary shall provide for: public notice of no fewer than 30 days; opportunity for written comment; and opportunity to request a public informational hearing. The Secretary shall post permit applications, permit decisions, and the initial or amended general permits on the website of the Agency of Natural Resources. The Secretary also shall provide notice to interested persons who request notice of permit applications, permit decisions, and proposed general permits or proposed amendments to general permits.
(l) General permits.
(1) The Secretary may issue general permits for activities that will not affect the continued survival or recovery of a threatened or endangered species.
(2) A general permit issued under this chapter shall contain those terms and conditions necessary to ensure compliance with the provisions of this statute.
(3) These terms and conditions may include the implementation of best management practices and the adoption of specific mitigation measures and required surveying, monitoring, and reporting.
(4) The Secretary may issue a general permit to take a threatened or endangered species or destroy or adversely impact critical habitat only if an activity or class of activities satisfies one or more of the following criteria:
(A) the taking of a threatened or endangered species or the destruction of or adverse impact on critical habitat is necessary to address an imminent risk to human health;
(B) a proposed taking of a threatened or endangered species or the destruction of or adverse impact on critical habitat would enhance the overall long-term survival of the species; or
(C) the Secretary has approved best management practices that are designed, when applied, to minimize to the greatest extent possible the taking of a threatened or endangered species or the destruction of or adverse impact on critical habitat.
(5) On or before September 1, 2017, the Secretary shall issue a general permit for vegetation management and operational and maintenance activities conducted by a utility. The general permit shall have a five-year term. A one-time application for coverage by a utility shall be made for activities authorized by the general permit, and coverage under the general permit shall be for the term of the general permit. Until the general permit has been issued, no critical habitat designation for wild plants shall be made in a utility right-of-way. As used in this subdivision (5), “utility” means an electric company, telecommunication company, pipeline operator, or railroad company.
(6) Prior to issuing an initial or amended general permit under this subsection, the Secretary shall:
(A) post a draft of the general permit on the Agency website;
(B) provide public notice of at least 30 days; and
(C) provide for written comments or a public hearing, or both.
(7) For applications for coverage under the terms of an issued general permit, the applicant shall provide notice on a form provided by the Secretary. The Secretary shall post notice of the application on the Agency website and shall provide an opportunity for written comment, regarding whether the application complies with the terms and conditions of the general permit, for ten days following receipt of the application.
(8) The Secretary may require any applicant for coverage under a general permit to submit additional information that the Secretary considers necessary and may refuse to approve coverage under the terms of a general permit until the information is furnished and evaluated.
(9) The Secretary may require any applicant for coverage under a general permit to seek an individual permit under this section if the applicant does not qualify for coverage.
(10) The Secretary may require a person operating under a general permit issued under this section to obtain an individual permit under this section if the person proposes to destroy or adversely impact critical habitat that was designated under section 5402a of this title after issuance of the general permit, unless existing best management practices approved under the general permit adequately protect the critical habitat or have been amended to do so prior to the critical habitat designation pursuant to section 5402a of this title.
Citation: 10 V.S.A. § 5408.