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The Division of Environmental Services (DES) was first created in 1971. The principle duties of the Division at that time were to review the potential impacts of PennDOT projects and work with various sportsmen's clubs and other conservation organizations to plan and construct fish habitat improvement projects. Today we still review transportation projects; however, we now do much more.

The Division is organized in two distinct program areas. One is our "proactive program" in which our staff work with expert scientists and engineers from a variety of disciplines to insure that the aquatic resources (both game and nongame) which live in all of our Commonwealth waters remain protected. Our staff review thousands of permit applications every year. We also review environmental laws and regulations that could have an impact on our jurisdictional species or their habitats and routinely comment on water quality, habitat and instream flow protection issues. We also advise other internal PFBC program areas about environmental issues.

The second part of the program, the "reactive part," involves staff biologists assisting law enforcement agencies including our own PFBC Bureau of Law Enforcement and the PA Attorney General's Office, PA DEP, U.S. EPA and Department of Justice and others in responding to water pollution and habitat disturbances throughout the Commonwealth. We commonly function as expert witnesses in criminal, civil and administrative court hearings. These cases range from major water pollution on large rivers involving major fish kills to channelizing the headwaters of small brook trout streams or wetlands.


    • Aquatic Resources Section works with DEP, River Basin Commission staff to ensure that water quality supports aquatic life. Reviews mining permits and abandoned mine reclamation projects with DEP to prevent stream impacts and improve abandoned mine sites. Represent state aquatic resource interests in superfund site restoration. Also issue permits for Lake and Pond drawdowns, use of aquatic pesticides and introduction of grass carp to control aquatic vegetation. Review thermal discharge impacts and impingement and entrainment of fish in water intakes.
    • Natural Diversity Section deals with the wide variety of issues related to nongame species of fish, aquatic invertebrates and herptiles. They are responsible for tracking information on endangered, threatened and rare animals under the PFBC's jurisdiction and managing efforts to restore these species to their native ranges.
    • Watershed Analysis Section reviews stream and wetland obstruction and encroachment project impacts and species impact reviews as part of the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. The reviews include transportation projects, residential developments, commercial developments, and industrial development that have the potential to impacts aquatic resources in the Commonwealth. The Section also reviews acid precipitation impacts, agricultural impacts, and erosion and sedimentation impacts to streams and wetlands.
    • Natural Gas Section responsible for the permit review of all activities associated with the development and transport of natural gas in Pennsylvania from unconventional wells whenever streams and wetlands are encroached upon. The Natural Gas Section assists both the Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers with their aquatic resource protection regulatory programs by actively reviewing and commenting on permit applications for unconventional gas well activities that encroach on streams, wetlands and other bodies of water. We focus our efforts to help avoid associated negative impacts on not only fish and their habitats but also recreational use of aquatic resources.


View additional permits and forms on our Non-Game Forms page.

Qualified Threatened and Endangered Species Surveyors

Qualified Endangered & Threatened Species Surveyor Application Form
Qualified Endangered & Threatened Species Surveyor Requirements

Amphibian and Reptile Rehabilitation Permit Information

Amphibian and Reptile Educator Possession Permit

Control Plans for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)

Action Plans for ETC (Endangered, Threatened, and Candidate) Species

Superfund Site Restoration