April 4, 2013
Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 1203
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Input on Draft Habitat Plan for Indiana Wind Farm
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the availability of a draft Habitat Conservation Plan for Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in northwestern Indiana. The Service is seeking comment on the draft plan as well as a draft environmental impact statement that address impacts to the endangered Indiana bat and the human environment.
Working with the Service are Fowler Ridge Wind Farm LLC, Fowler Ridge II Wind Farm LLC, Fowler Ridge III Wind Farm LLC, and Fowler Ridge IV Wind Farm LLC. A notice of availability of the draft documents was published in the April 5, 2013, Federal Register. Comments must be received by June 4, 2013.
The draft Habitat Conservation Plan developed by Fowler Ridge includes measures for the long-term conservation of Indiana bats at the Fowler Ridge facility. The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm currently includes 355 wind turbines in Benton County, with plans for up to 94 additional turbines. Two occurrences of Indiana bat mortality have been discovered and reported by Fowler Ridge during routine surveys of the facility.
The draft EIS identifies alternatives for reducing Indiana bat mortality at the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm. The no-action alternative would shut down all 449 turbines from sunset to sunrise from Aug. 1 through Oct. 15 to avoid take of Indiana bats; an HCP would not be needed. The other three alternatives involve feathering the turbine blades below a specified cut-in speed (the wind speed at which the turbines begin to generate electricity), either 3.5 meters per second, 5 meters per second (the alternative proposed by the applicant and described in the HCP) or 6.5 meters per second. Feathering causes the turbine blades to be motionless, or nearly so, below these wind speeds thus reducing impacts to bats flying through the facility. The measures would be implemented on a nightly basis from sunset to sunrise, adjusted for sunset/sunrise time weekly, from Aug. 1 to Oct. 15 annually.
In addition to efforts to avoid and minimize take, these alternatives describe proposed mitigation for any incidental take of Indiana bats. Mitigation would include coordinating, funding, and monitoring the protection and restoration of both summer and winter habitat.
Specifically, Fowler Ridge would preserve and restore summer maternity habitat in the vicinity of existing maternity colonies in Putnam County, Tippecanoe County, Vermillion County, or Warren County, Indiana. Fowler Ridge would also protect winter habitat by installing a new bat gate near the entrance of a Priority 1 hibernaculum in Indiana.
Comments on the draft habitat conservation plan and draft environmental impact statement may be submitted in writing by one of the following methods:
- Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R3-ES-2013-0032, which is the docket number for this notice. Then, on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Notices link to locate this document and submit a comment.
- By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R3-ES-2013-0032; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
Comments must be received by June 4, 2013.
A public meeting will be held on April 18, 2013, from 4 pm to 8 pm at the Government Annex Building, 410 South Adeway, Suite A, Fowler, Indiana.
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.
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