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Minnesota State Fish and Wildlife License Recommendations (12-MN-a)

The Federal Power Act (“FPA”) requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to consult with state agencies responsible for the oversight and protection of fish, wildlife, and botanical resources. 18 CFR 5.1(d); 18 CFR 4.38.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (“MNDNR”) is the state agency charged with protecting, propagating, increasing, preserving and conserving of the state’s wildlife resources. Minn. Stat. §84.027(2). MNDNR participates in the FERC licensing process by (in addition to consulting with other federal, state, and tribal resource management agencies involved in the FERC licensing process) reviewing proposed hydropower projects at US Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) non-powered dams. MNDNR issues project-specific recommendations to FERC designed to protect, mitigate damage to, and enhance fish and wildlife resources. 16 U.S.C. § 803. USACE hydropower projects are not exempt from FERC licensing, and therefore are not subject to mandatory terms and conditions pursuant to section 30(c) of the Federal Power Act.

State Fish and Wildlife License Recommendations Process

12-MI-a.1 – Initiate Section 10(j) Analysis

For hydropower projects subject to FERC licensing, section 10(j) of the FPA authorizes MNDNR to issue recommendations to FERC in order to protect, mitigate damage to, and enhance those fish and wildlife species and their necessary habitat. 16 U.S.C. § 803(j).

MNDNR initiates the FPA section 10(j) analysis by reviewing the administrative record and identifying the potential impacts of the hydropower project on fish and wildlife species and their habitat.

Several policies, statutes and regulations may guide the FPA section 10(j) recommendations provided by MNDNR. These include:

12-MN-a.2 to 12-MN-a.3 – Are Additional Documents or Studies Needed?

If the record is incomplete, MNDNR may request that the developer provide additional documents. MNDNR may also conduct studies to address information gaps concerning baseline values or potential impacts of the proposed project.

12-MN-a.4 to 12-MN-a.5 – Section 10(j) Recommendations

Based upon MNDNR’s review of the hydropower project, MNDNR works with the developer to formulate FPA section 10(j) recommendations for the FERC license. 16 U.S.C. § 803(j). In developing its FPA section 10(j) recommendations, MNDNR considers and strives to maintain consistency with MNDNR policies and the requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act, and the management plan for the affected area. MNDNR’s recommendations may include measures addressing instream flow regimes, fish passage facilities, and/or vegetation and terrestrial wildlife management plans.

MNDNR submits its FPA section 10(j) recommendations to FERC. FERC must consider and accept any recommendations from MNDNR for the protection, mitigation, and enhancement of fish and wildlife affected by the project unless FERC determines that:

  1. A recommendation is inconsistent with the purposes and requirements of the FPA or other applicable provisions of law; and
  2. The alternative conditions selected by FERC comply with the requirement to adequately protect, mitigate damages to, and enhance fish and wildlife. 16 U.S.C. § 803(j).

Once FERC issues a license, MNDNR continues to monitor the project to ensure the developer’s compliance with any conditions relevant to the protection, mitigation, and enhancement of fish and wildlife.

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Contact Information

Edit Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Hydropower Projects Planner 651-259-5072 Visit Website