The Dakota skipper is a small butterfly that lives in high-quality mixed and tallgrass prairie (refer to guidance document for further information). This species was listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on October 23, 2014. Disturbing sites with native prairie that contains Dakota skippers would be a violation of the ESA and may cause local extinction of the species. Therefore, material source locations with potential Dakota Skipper habitat (determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) must be evaluated before the site can be disturbed or issued a Certificate of Approval (COA).
A qualified biologist must evaluate the location for suitable habitat (Type A or Type B) per the guidelines set-forth by the USFWS Dakota Skipper Habitat Parameters (see link below). A short letter report explaining survey results accompanied with map(s) of site as well as photos and Dakota Skipper Habitat Evaluation data sheets must be provided from the qualified biologist to the NDDOT before a COA will be considered. If there are multiple habitat types found on a material source site, more than one data sheet should be used.
- If survey results indicate that Dakota skipper habitat is not present at a material source location, a COA will be issued and the site may be used.
- If survey results indicate that Type A or Type B Dakota skipper habitat is present within all or portions of a material source location; more detailed surveys will be required in order to receive a COA, unless avoidance areas are sufficient to avoid impacts to species. In these situations, NDDOT will provide additional details on how to proceed before a COA will be issued.
Guidance Materials for the Dakota Skipper
- Dakota Skipper Guide
- Pages 9-12 describe explain suitable habitat (type A or type B) for the Dakota skipper.
- Appendix D describes proposed primary constituent elements for the actual critical habitat units.
The NDDOT uses the following information for qualified biologists:
A qualified biologist meets one or more of the following minimum requirements and will provide supporting documentation:
- Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, Wildlife, or closely related Environmental Science.
- Two years of experience writing biological assessments in accordance with the Endangered Species Act, preferably for transportation or linear type projects.
- Or other experience as approved by the NDDOT.
***In the case of the Dakota skipper, it would be recommended to have a qualified biologist that is skilled in botany – i.e. plant identification.***