Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Habitat Conservation Plan Proposed for the Shiloh III Wind Plant Project

Feb 08, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2011

Contact: Sarah Swenty, sarah_swenty@fws.gov, (916) 414-6571

Habitat Conservation Plan Proposed for the Shiloh III Wind Plant Project
Plan Is Designed to Help Offset Impacts on California Tiger Salamanders

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has released for public comment a proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the construction and operation of the Shiloh III Wind Plant Project power plant that will protect 50.5 acres of habitat for the federally listed California tiger salamander.  The purpose of the HCP is to offset the projects possible impacts to the threatened central population of the species.

The Notice of Availability (NOA) of the proposed HCP for the Shiloh III Wind Plant Project provides an opportunity for the public to comment. Comments on the proposed plan can be submitted through March 25, 2011.

The applicant, enXco, proposes to develop its wind energy facility within an approximately 4,600 acre project area in the Collinsville–Montezuma Hills Wind Resources Area, immediately south of State Route 12 in Solano County, California (Plan Area).  The project would deliver renewable energy to the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)/California Independent System Operator (CAISO) power grid. 

Up to 59 wind turbines are proposed to be built in the Plan Area.  Seventeen of the 59 turbines are located within California tiger salamander grassland habitat, with the 42 remaining turbines to be located in cultivated agricultural lands.  The project is expected to result in permanent loss of 15 acres of grassland habitat for the California tiger salamander.  Additionally 70 acres of grasslands would be temporarily lost but restored within one year of impact. 

The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of many others. The proposed HCP would protect 50.5 acres of California tiger salamander habitat at a Service and California Department of Fish and Game approved conservation bank. 

Approved HCPs allow project developers, landowners and other non-federal entities to receive a permit to “take” endangered species incidental to otherwise legal activities.  This is consistent with the federal and state Endangered Species Acts that allow local agencies to approve projects in endangered species’ habitats in exchange for developing a conservation strategy that will both mitigate project impacts and contribute to species recovery. 

HCPs provide a framework for creating partnerships between the public and private sectors in endangered species conservation.  The plans identify a project’s impact to wildlife; the steps the applicant will take to reduce or compensate for such impacts; what alternative actions were considered; reasons why alternatives are not being used; and how the conservation efforts in the plan will be funded.  HCPs can apply to both listed and non-listed species, including those that are candidates or have been proposed for listing.
The draft HCP and draft Environmental Assessment are available at http://www.fws.gov/sacramento/
The Federal Register notice is available at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/frcont11.html

Comments concerning the draft EA and draft HCP can be sent by U.S. Mail or email through March 25, 2011 to: 
Mike Thomas, Chief, Conservation Planning Branch, Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825; or by facsimile to 916-414-6713.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

-- fws --