June 4, 2010
Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 1203
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Develop Environmental Impact Statement
On Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan Process for Ohio Wind Project
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is developing an Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the effects on endangered Indiana bats of issuing an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act for a wind energy project in Champaign County, Ohio.
The incidental take permit, requested by EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc., would cover take of the Indiana bat that is incidental to activities associated with the construction and operation of EverPower’s Buckeye Wind Energy project.
EverPower is planning to develop a wind energy facility spread over about 80,050 acres in Champaign County, Ohio. Development would include installation of up to 100 wind turbines and associated collection lines, access roads, utility lines, substations, and operation and maintenance facility buildings. Within the 80,050-acre project area, about 500 acres would be disturbed by construction. Following restoration, the permanent operating footprint will be approximately 100 acres.
Applicants for incidental take permits must prepare a Habitat Conservation Plan. An HCP developed by EverPower would include measures to minimize impacts and ensure long-term conservation of Indiana bats to offset the incidental take resulting from construction and operation of the Buckeye Wind facility. Under the ESA, take means harming, harassing or killing endangered or threatened species.
In early 2010, the Service conducted a scoping period under the National Environmental Policy Act to determine the appropriate level of review (Environmental Impact Statement or Environmental Assessment) for this project. In response to the comments received, the Service has determined that an EIS is the appropriate level of review under NEPA.
The Service will evaluate several alternatives for issuing an incidental take permit for the wind power project. Under one alternative, the facility would be constructed as proposed, but turbines would be shut down at night from April through October, when bats are most active. A second alternative would shut down turbines at night during certain wind speeds, depending on the presence of suitable Indiana bat habitat near each individual turbine. The Service will also evaluate impacts of no mitigation measures for bats, as well as a no-action alternative under which no permit would be issued.
The Service will develop the draft EIS based on its environmental review and information received during the comment period. The draft EIS and draft HCP will then be made available for public review and comment before the EIS is finalized and a decision made on the request for an incidental take permit. The draft EIS and draft HCP are expected to be completed and available to the public in mid-2010.
The Service is seeking information on Indiana bat biology, wind power and bat interactions, and other activities in the vicinity of the project that may affect bats. You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Ms. Megan Seymour, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ohio Field Office, 4625 Morse Rd., Suite 104, Columbus, OH 43230;
E-mail comments: EverPowerHCP@fws.gov; or Fax: (614) 416–8994 (Attention: Megan Seymour). Deadline for submitting comments is June 25, 2010. If you have already submitted comments on this project during the earlier public comment, you need not resubmit your comments. All previously received comments on this project will be considered in development of the draft EIS.
The Indiana bat ranges through most of the eastern United States, hibernating in groups in caves and mines during the winter. Females form maternity colonies under the bark of large trees during the summer, where they raise their young. Indiana bats, like most bats in the eastern United States, are significant consumers of insects, including agricultural pests.
Indiana bats, listed as endangered in 1967, were among the first animals protected under the precursor to the current Endangered Species Act. Threats to the species include disturbance during hibernation, when bats may cluster in groups of up to 500 per square foot. Loss or modification of summer habitat used by maternity colonies is also a threat.
For more information on endangered species, wind power, and Habitat Conservation Plans, visit the Service’s Midwest Region website at www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered For information regarding this specific project, visit the website at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/permits/hcp/buckeyewind/index.html
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, visitwww.fws.gov