[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 164 (Wednesday, August 24, 2011)]
[Pages 52966-52968]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-21614]



Fish and Wildlife Service


Kawailoa Wind Energy Generation Facility, Oahu, HI; Draft Habitat 
Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; receipt of permit application.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have 
received an application from Kawailoa Wind Power LLC (applicant), a 
subsidiary of First Wind LLC, for an incidental take permit (ITP) under 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). The applicant is 
requesting a 20-year ITP pursuant to the ESA to authorize take of six 
species--four endangered birds, one threatened bird, and one endangered 
mammal (collectively these six species are hereafter referred to as the 
``Covered Species''). The permit application includes a draft habitat 
conservation plan (HCP) describing the applicant's actions and the 
measures the applicant will implement to minimize, mitigate, and 
monitor incidental take of the Covered Species, the ITP application 
also includes a draft Implementing Agreement (IA). The Service also 
announces the availability of a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) 
that has been prepared in response to the permit application in 
accordance with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA). The Service is making the permit application package and draft 
EA available for public review and comment.

DATES: All comments from interested parties must be received on or 
before October 11, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Loyal Mehrhoff, Project 
Leader, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, HI 
96850. You may also send comments by facsimile to (808) 792-9581.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Aaron Nadig, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see ADDRESSES above); 
telephone (808) 792-9400.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The applicant is requesting a 20-year ITP to 
authorize take of six species--four endangered birds, one threatened 
bird, and one endangered mammal: The endangered Hawaiian moorhen 
(Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis), Hawaiian coot (Fulica alai), 
Hawaiian duck (Anas wyvilliana), Hawaiian stilt (Himantopus mexicanus 
knudseni), Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus), and the 
threatened Newell's shearwater (Puffinus auricularis newelli).
    Kawailoa Wind is also applying for an incidental take license (ITL) 
from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to 
comply with State endangered species laws.

Availability of Documents

    You may request copies of the permit application, which includes 
the draft HCP, IA, and EA, by contacting the Service's Pacific Islands 
Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above). 
These documents are also available electronically for review on the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office 
Web site at http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands. Comments and materials 
the Service receives, as well as supporting documentation we use in 
preparing the NEPA document, will become part of the public record and 
will be available for public inspection by appointment, during regular 
business hours. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail 
address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you 
should be aware that your entire comment--including your personal 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.
    The Service specifically requests information from the public on 
whether the application meets the statutory and regulatory requirements 
for issuing a permit, and identification of any aspects of the human 
environment that should be analyzed in the EA. We are also soliciting 
information regarding the adequacy of the HCP to minimize, mitigate, 
and monitor the proposed incidental take of the Covered Species and to 
provide for adaptive management, as evaluated against our permit 
issuance criteria found in section 10(a) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1539(a)), and 50 CFR 13.21, 17.22, and 17.32. In compliance with 
section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1539(c)), the Service is making the 
permit application package available for public review and comment for 
45 days (see DATES section above).


    Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and Federal regulations 
prohibit the take of fish and wildlife species listed as endangered or 
threatened. The term ``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, 
shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage 
in any such conduct. However, under section 10(a) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1539(a)), we may issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed 
fish and wildlife species. Incidental take is defined as take that is 
incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful 
activity. Regulations governing incidental take permits for threatened 
and endangered species are found at 50 CFR 17.32 and 17.22. If issued, 
the permittee would receive assurances under the Service's ``No 
Surprises'' regulations at 50 CFR 17.32(b)(5) and 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5).
    Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle announced in October 2008 a 
comprehensive alternative energy agreement between the State of Hawaii 
and the electric companies operating in Hawaii. The initiative is aimed 
at decisively moving the State away from its dependence on fossil fuels 
for electricity and ground transportation and toward renewable energy. 
The State seeks to move Hawaii toward having 70 percent of its energy 
use coming from alternative energy sources by 2030.
    The applicant proposes to construct and operate a new 70-megawatt 
(MW), 30-turbine commercial wind energy generation facility at Kawailoa 
on Kamehameha Schools' Kawailoa Plantation lands, approximately 4 miles 
northeast of Haleiwa town on the north

[[Page 52967]]

shore of the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The proposed facility will consist 
of 30 wind turbine generators (WTGs), a maintenance building, an 
electrical substation, a battery energy storage system, an underground 
electrical collection system carrying electrical power from individual 
WTGs to the electrical substation, an overhead transmission line to 
connect the substation to the Hawaiian Electric Company transmission 
line, two permanent unguyed meteorological monitoring towers, and 
service roads to connect the new WTGs and other facilities to existing 
highways. Infrastructure development will also include installation, 
operation, and maintenance of up to four microwave dish antennae on two 
existing Hawaiian Telcom facilities near the summit of Mt. Kaala in the 
Waianae Mountains on the Island of Oahu.
    The Kawailoa Wind Farm Project will supply wind-generated 
electricity to the Hawaiian Electric Company. The applicant has 
developed a draft HCP that addresses the incidental take of the six 
Covered Species that may occur as a result of the construction and 
operation of the Kawailoa Wind Farm Project over a period of 20 years. 
In addition, the draft HCP addresses proposed measures the applicant 
will implement to minimize, mitigate, and monitor incidental take of 
the Covered Species.
    Another wind energy project, Kaheawa Wind Power I (KWP I), 
operating on the island of Maui has demonstrated impacts to the 
Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), Hawaiian goose (Branta 
sandvicensis), and Hawaiian hoary bat, which have collided with the 
wind turbine structures at this existing 30-megawatt (MW) 21-turbine 
    Hawaiian moorhen, Hawaiian duck, Hawaiian coot, and Hawaiian stilt 
are known to exist in wetland locations adjacent to the proposed 
Kawailoa Wind project site. These four Hawaiian waterbird species are 
at risk of injury and mortality from post construction wind operations 
(collisions with wind turbine generators). In addition to the 
anticipated take by the project, predator trapping poses some risk of 
harassment due to capture. Moorhen are attracted to traps and moorhen 
on Oahu have been documented entering live traps.
    The Hawaiian hoary bat has been recorded within the project area 
through the use of acoustic monitoring devices. The data suggest that 
bat activity increases from March through November and is lowest or 
absent in the winter. Bat activity was recorded throughout the project 
area within a wide variety of landscape features, including clearings, 
along roads, along the edges of tree lines, in gulches and at 
irrigation ponds. Hawaiian hoary bats are at risk of injury and 
mortality from wind operations post construction (collisions with wind 
turbine generators).
    The Newell's shearwater is a seabird species that spends a large 
part of the year at sea, forages in the open ocean, and breeds in the 
main Hawaiian Islands. Beginning in March and April, adults initiate 
breeding at colonial nesting grounds in the interior mountains of the 
main Hawaiian Islands. Fledglings (i.e., young birds learning how to 
fly) travel from the nesting colony to the sea in the fall (mid-
September to mid-December). They are known to be attracted to 
artificially lighted areas, which can result in disorientation and 
subsequent fallout (ceasing to be able to fly and involuntarily 
descending) due to exhaustion. Adult seabirds can collide with 
buildings, towers, power lines, and other tall structures while flying 
at night between their nesting colonies and at-sea foraging areas. To 
date, no Newell's shearwaters have been found to have collided with any 
structures at wind farm facilities.

Proposed Plan

    The draft HCP describes the impacts of take associated with the 
applicant's activities, and proposes a program to minimize and mitigate 
take of each of the Covered Species. The applicant is proposing the 
following mitigation measures on the islands of Oahu, Maui Nui and 
Kauai: (1) Predator control, fencing, wetland restoration, and 
vegetation maintenance for the protection of Hawaiian waterbirds at 
Ukoa Pond on Oahu; (2) restoration of wetland and forested upland 
habitat at Ukoa Pond for the protection of Hawaiian hoary bat; (3) 
restoration and management to include fencing, ungulate removal, and 
predator control of forested habitat on Oahu for Hawaiian hoary bat 
conservation; and (4) development and testing of a self-resetting cat 
trap that will be utilized at a Newell's shearwater seabird colony on 
Kauai. If incidental take of Newell's shearwater exceeds certain 
specified levels, or if the re-setting cat trap does not prove 
effective, the applicant will also develop translocation protocols for 
implementation in the Newell's shearwater recovery effort or contribute 
to a restoration fund for predator control, social attraction and 
translocation of Newell's shearwaters to Kahoolawe. The Kawailoa Wind 
HCP also includes avoidance and minimization measures that will 
significantly limit the take of listed species due to construction, 
operation and maintenance of the wind farm. This HCP incorporates 
adaptive management provisions to allow for modifications to the 
mitigation and monitoring measures as knowledge is gained during 
    The draft EA contains an analysis of three alternatives: (1) 
Issuance of the ITP to Kawailoa Wind on the basis of the activities 
described in the proposed HCP (Proposed Action); (2) impacts of issuing 
an ITP and approving an HCP for the alternate communications site; and 
(3) No Action (no permit issuance and no measures by the applicant to 
reduce or eliminate the take of covered species). The draft EA 
considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the 
alternatives, including any measures under the Proposed Action 
alternative intended to minimize and mitigate such impacts. The draft 
EA also identifies additional alternatives that were considered but not 
fully analyzed, as they did not meet the purpose and need of the 
Proposed Action.
    The Service invites comments and suggestions from all interested 
parties on the draft documents associated with the permit application, 
and requests that comments be as specific as possible. In particular, 
information and comments regarding the following topics are requested: 
(1) Whether the proposed HCP sufficiently minimizes and mitigates the 
impacts of take to the covered species to the maximum extent 
practicable over its 20-year term; (2) additional adaptive management 
or monitoring provisions that may be incorporated into the Proposed 
Action alternative, and their benefits to listed species; (3) the 
direct, indirect, or cumulative effects that implementation of either 
alternative could have on the human environment; (4) other plans or 
projects that might be relevant to this action; and (5) any other 
information pertinent to evaluating the effects of the proposed action 
on the human environment.


    This notice is provided under section 10(c) (16 U.S.C. 1539(c)) of 
the ESA and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6). The public process for 
the proposed Federal action will be completed after the public comment 
period, at which time we will evaluate the permit application, the HCP 
and associated documents (including the EA), and comments submitted 
thereon to determine whether or not the proposed action meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) (16 U.S.C.

[[Page 52968]]

1539(a)) of the ESA and has been adequately evaluated under NEPA.

    Dated: August 10, 2011.
 Richard R. Hannan,
Deputy Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 2011-21614 Filed 8-23-11; 8:45 am]