The PA Conservation Explorer’s (Explorer) PNDI Environmental Review portion of the site provides the user with the ability to screen a project for potential impacts to state and federally-listed endangered, threatened, and rare species as well as other species and resources. The Explorer provides an automatic response determining that the project has No Potential Impact, Potential Impact or Avoidance or Conservation Measures are provided to minimize project impacts to the species.
The four resource agencies associated with species and resources found in PNDI (DCNR, PFBC, PGC, and USFWS) are responsible for providing an accurate determination through the PNDI environmental review process. In order for the jurisdictional agencies to provide automatic clearances via the Explorer (as opposed to a staff-person review), the agency must meet all of its regulatory requirements to ensure that the PNDI screening took into consideration secondary or indirect effects as well as direct effects. Also to encourage early planning, the screening area allows users to screen projects where they may not have fully considered access, staging areas, or the exact route or placement of the project. Project screening areas have been part of the PNDI process since the PNDI Tool was created in 2005. However, now in the Explorer, the user is able to see the visible screening area buffer after drawing their project.
Different project types may have different screening areas applied to the project footprint. In general, the screening area buffer (added to the project footprint to delineate the entire project screening areas) takes into consideration the effects and early planning mentioned above to ensure an accurate agency determination. In addition, the scale of the map at which the applicant draws the project footprint governs how accurately the project is depicted. With improved mapping, some of the potential error is reduced, but the error is not totally eliminated.
When a project footprint is drawn within the Explorer, the area that will be screened by the tool for potential impacts is created by first applying a project-type specific screening area buffer around the project. If the resulting total area (project footprint plus screening area buffer) is less than 50 acres, the Explorer will add an additional screening area to bring the project up to a minimum of 50 acres. All projects are analyzed for potential species impacts within a minimum 50 acre screening area (project area plus screening buffer).
The Explorer facilitates early planning to enable users to screen their projects as early in the process as possible, and then work further with the appropriate jurisdictional resources agency as needed per the results of the PNDI Receipt. For additional information related to project buffer sizes, please see below or contact the agencies listed in the PNDI Receipt.