Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Monday announced the department and its partners today are launching PA Conservation Explorer to assist businesses, local governments and citizens with conservation planning, and improve the process for environmental reviews for threatened and endangered species that are required during permitting for construction and other activities.
"A government that works efficiently makes it easier to evaluate the impact that projects will have on our threatened and endangered species so that they can be avoided through the planning and permitting processes," Dunn said. "For the first time, species habitat information will be available online, and applicants can submit projects electronically, replacing a cumbersome process that required paper submissions to four different agencies."
PA Conservation Explorer replaces the PA Natural Diversity Inventory Environmental Review Tool (PNDI).
The new tool provides conservation information on biological diversity, protected lands, streams and other natural resources for planning purposes. It also allows users to screen a project area for potential impacts to threatened, endangered, and special concern species once they register.
In Pennsylvania, examples of threatened and endangered species include the blue spotted salamander; Indiana bat; piping plover; bog turtle; and the leafy white orchid.
The tool does not list specific locations for species, but instead shows the species habitat.
Use of the Conservation Explorer as a planning tool can be done without charge. There is a $40 convenience charge per project to use PA Conservation Explorer and get documentation for the permitting process.
Users without access to a computer or who do not wish to use the convenience option may submit their project for review directly to each of the four jurisdictional agencies at no charge.
Jurisdictional agencies are: DCNR, plants; Game Commission, birds and mammals; Fish and Boat Commission, fish, reptiles and amphibians; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, federally-listed species.To learn more about Pennsylvania's diversity of species and natural heritage and access PA Conservation Explorer, visit DCNR’s Natural Heritage webpage.