Environmental Review

What is Environmental Review?

Environmental review staff at the Wildlife Conservation Section can assist with information requests and the review of Georgia rare species and natural community data for specific projects or actions within the state. These requests and reviews are generally site-specific. During the environmental review process, we provide information regarding high priority species and habitats within an area of interest, official communications stating a review of the proposed project or action has been completed by our office, and related recommendations from the state. If you believe you need to initiate an environmental review, please see the following links below:


Requesting Information for Sites

Who Needs to Request More Information for Sites?

Not all projects require a full review from our office. Small projects in urban areas, projects involving small modifications to an existing developed site, and projects that will not disturb any natural habitats or aquatic resources may not need a full review. In these cases, you should be able to access the necessary information for high priority species and natural communities near the project area by using our Georgia Biodiversity Portal. You can use the appropriate County, Quarter Quad, HUC 8 Watershed, and HUC 10 Watershed lists for your project location. However, if there is potential habitat for species of concern at the project site and those species are located within the quarter quad or quads nearby, you should request further information from our office.

Large-scale projects, projects in previously undeveloped areas, and projects that involve activities that may potentially disturb natural habitats or aquatic resources should be reviewed by our office. Please follow the instructions below for completing an information request.

Instructions for Submitting an Information Request

All site-specific requests for information on high priority species and natural community element occurrences (EOs) that involve less than 1,000 acres should be submitted through the Georgia's Natural, Archaeological, and Historic Resources GIS (GNARHGIS) Ecology Review and Survey Module. Unless otherwise specified, requests will be filled via an official environmental review letter from our office signed by a wildlife biologist. Please allow two weeks for reviews of Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) projects and four weeks for all other projects. For instructions on how to initiate these information requests, please see below:

  1. If you and/or your agency/firm have never submitted a review request to our office, please send your initial request electronically to Anna Yellin or Maggie Hunt at Nongame.Review@dnr.ga.gov.
    • Requests should include, at a minimum:
      1. A description of the project and possible impacts.
      2. Location information such as a shapefile (preferred), KMZ, center point latitude/longitude, or a detailed map.
    • Please Note: Our email server may block emails with compressed/zipped attachments without notification to either party (even with the .zip extension renamed). If you need to send zipped files, please use a public file sharing service like DropBox, Box.net or Google Docs (all free).
    • After this initial request, you may request a GNAHRGIS Ecology Module account to make future requests if needed.
  2. If you and/or your agency/firm have previously submitted review requests but do not yet have a GNAHRGIS Ecology Module account, please follow the instructions located on the GNAHRGIS website to request an account: https://ecology.gnahrgis.org.

As of May 1, 2019, faxes and hard copies are no longer accepted for environmental review/information requests except in pre-approved cases.

Important Instructions for Submitting Requests through GNAHRGIS

New users of GNAHRGIS should review the How-To Video. Once you have watched the video and are familiar with the module functions, the following steps are required to initiate an environmental review from our office:

  1. Under the “Project” tab, click “Add Project” to define the area of your project and provide basic project information. Click Save.
    • Note: GNAHRGIS will prompt you to upload a shapefile for your project. The shapefile must be in polygon format. Polylines and points are not accepted by the system. The shapefile must be uploaded in .zip format, and the components of the .zip folder and the folder itself must have identical names.
  2. Under the “Review” tab, click “Add Review” and select “Choose An Existing Project”. Click “Make a Review”.
    • A list of species near your project area will be displayed. Click Save.
    • You may now click “Generate Review Document” and use this DRAFT list for project planning and scoping purposes. Please do not use the draft list for consultation documentation or purposes.
    • Multiple reviews can be created for a single project. For example, reviews may be conducted multiple times for a project lasting several years to check whether new species occurrences near the project have been entered in our database over the life of the project.
    • IMPORTANT: Simply creating a review does not initiate early coordination or environmental review from our office. To initiate project review by our office, you must continue to Step 3.
  3. To submit a review and receive a response from our office, you must click the “Submit” button. This button can be viewed under the “Review” tab in the “Project Status” column. It can also be viewed on the review details page, which is accessible by clicking the “Review ID” number link under the “Review” tab.
  4. A final review letter will be completed by our office and uploaded within two weeks of the submission date for GDOT projects and within four weeks for all other projects. You will receive an auto-generated email notifying you that the review is complete. If you have not received a response during this timeframe, please contact us at Nongame.Review@dnr.ga.gov.

For technical problems within the system, please email appdev@itos.uga.edu for assistance. Detailed descriptions of your difficulties, as well as screenshots, are recommended for timely diagnosis.


Requesting Information for Large Sites (Greater than 1,000 acres)

If you need an information request for a site larger than 1,000 acres, or for multiple sites that total more than 1,000 acres, please send your initial request electronically to Anna Yellin or Maggie Hunt at Nongame.Review@dnr.ga.gov.

Requests should include, at a minimum:

  1. A description of the project and possible impacts
  2. Location information such as a shapefile (preferred), KMZ, center point latitude/longitude, or a detailed map

Please Note: Our email server may block emails with compressed/zipped attachments without notifying either party (even with the .zip extension renamed). If you need to send zip files, please use a public file-sharing service like DropBox, Box.net or Google Docs (all free).

As of May 1, 2019, faxes and hard copies are no longer accepted for environmental review/information requests except in pre-approved cases.


Environmental Review Work Areas

Our environmental review staff divides workload by geographic region. For specific questions about your project or environmental review, please contact the appropriate reviewer based on the “Wildlife Conservation Section Environmental Review Work Areas” map below.

WCS Work Areas


Solar Facility Development in Georgia

Solar facility development and planning have increased in recent years as solar energy becomes a more popular renewable energy investment. Solar farms produce little to no carbon emissions and are a promising form of sustainably sourced electricity. In particular, south Georgia has seen an influx of solar investment opportunities, as the climate and terrain in the region is preferential for solar array placement and productivity. However, these areas often overlap with biodiversity hotspots and rare or uncommon natural communities in our state. Commercial solar energy facilities often require landscape conversion to a form that cannot support the habitat needs of many species. Large solar farms lead to fragmentation of natural landscapes, which in turn negatively affects Georgia species of conservation concern.

Recommendations for solar development are provided during the environmental review process. Prior to submitting your project for environmental review, we encourage conscientious siting of your planned solar facility. Reclamation of old agricultural fields for solar development is preferrable to siting solar facilities in previously undeveloped spaces. The Nature Conservancy (Georgia Chapter) has partnered with Georgia DNR and NASA DEVELOP participants at the University of Georgia to create a low-impact solar siting tool that can be accessed at the link below. Please utilize this tool to avoid siting facilities in environmentally sensitive areas, such as protected lands and high-quality habitat for gopher tortoises and other protected wildlife.

TNC Georgia Low-Impact Siting Tool