If a project falls within Priority Habitat of Rare Species and does not qualify for a MESA filing exemption , proponents must file with the NHESP. Priority Habitat is defined as "the geographic extent of Habitat for state-listed species" as delineated by the Division pursuant to 321 CMR . The NHESP understands that there are project proponents who have taken significant action towards implementing a project in reliance on an earlier edition of the Atlas that showed that the project site was not located in Priority Habitat but have since been mapped. Some such projects may not be subject to MESA review if certain permitting milestones have been met pursuant to (2). MESA also includes Performance Standards for Obtaining a No Take Determination for Certain Activities pursuant to 321 CMR (5).
Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are required to create an Endangered Species Recovery Plan outlining the goals, tasks required, likely costs, and estimated timeline to recover endangered species (., increase their numbers and improve their management to the point where they can be removed from the endangered list).  The ESA does not specify when a recovery plan must be completed. The FWS has a policy specifying completion within three years of the species being listed, but the average time to completion is approximately six years.  The annual rate of recovery plan completion increased steadily from the Ford administration (4) through Carter (9), Reagan (30), Bush I (44), and Clinton (72), but declined under Bush II (16 per year as of 9/1/06).