[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 126 (Friday, June 29, 2012)]
[Pages 38819-38821]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15664]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-ES-2012-0036; FXES11120300000F2-123-FF03E15000]

Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and 
Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental 
Take Permit, Buckeye Wind Power Project, Champaign County, OH

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have 
received an application from Buckeye Wind, LLC (applicant), for an 
incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended (ESA), for its Buckeye Wind Power Project (project). If 
approved, the ITP would be for a 30-year period and would authorize the 
incidental take of an endangered species, the Indiana bat. The 
applicant has prepared a habitat conservation plan (HCP) that describes 
the actions and measures the applicant would implement to avoid, 
minimize, and mitigate incidental take of the Indiana bat. The ITP 
application also includes a draft implementing agreement (IA). We also 
announce the availability of a draft Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS) that has been prepared in response to the permit application in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA). We request public comment on the application and associated 

DATES: Public Meeting: July 12, 2012, 4-8 p.m., Champaign County 
Community Center Auditorium, 1512 S. U.S. Highway 68, Urbana, OH 43078.
    Comments: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or 
before September 27, 2012. Comments submitted electronically using the 
Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below) must be 
received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.

ADDRESSES: Document availability:
     Internet: You may obtain copies of the documents on the 
Internet at http://www.regulations.gov (Docket Number FWS-R3-ES-2012-
0036) or http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/permits/hcp/r3hcps.html.
     U.S. Mail: You can obtain the documents by mail from the 
Ecological Services Office in the Midwest Regional Office (see FOR 
     In-Person: To view hard copies of the documents in person, 
go to one of the Ecological Services Offices (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) listed 
under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, or to one of the following 
libraries during normal business hours: Champaign County Library, 1060 
Scioto Street, Urbana, OH 43078-2228; or North Lewisburg Branch, 161 
Winder Street, North Lewisburg, OH 43060.
    Public Meeting: See DATES.
    Comment submission: In your comment, please specify whether your 
comment addresses the HCP, the draft EIS, both the HCP and draft EIS, 
or other supporting documents. You may submit written comments 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-2012-
0036, which is the docket number for this notice. Then, on the left 
side of the screen, under the

[[Page 38820]]

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-2012-0036; Division of 
Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 
N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We request that you send comments only by the methods described 
above. We will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section 
below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Megan Seymour, Fish and Wildlife 
Biologist, Ohio Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 4625 Morse Road, Suite 104, Columbus, OH 43230; 614-
416-8993, extension 16; or Rick Amidon, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, 
Ecological Services, Midwest Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 5600 American Blvd., West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437-
1458; 612-713-5164.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We have received an application from Buckeye 
Wind, LLC, for an incidental take permit (TE66315A) under the ESA (16 
U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If approved, the ITP would be for a 30-year 
period and would authorize incidental take of the Indiana bat (Myotis 
    The applicant has prepared a draft HCP to cover the construction, 
operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of the project. The project 
consists of a wind-powered electric generation facility located in an 
approximately 80,051-acre area (the action area) located in portions of 
Union, Wayne, Urbana, Salem, Rush, and Goshen Townships, in Champaign 
County, Ohio. The draft HCP describes the following: (1) Biological 
goals and objectives of the HCP; (2) the covered activities; (3) permit 
duration; (4) permit area; (5) alternatives to the taking that were 
considered; (5) public participation; (6) life history of the Indiana 
bat; (6) a quantification of the take for which authorization is 
requested; (7) an assessment of direct and indirect effects of the 
taking on the Indiana bat within the action area and within the Midwest 
Recovery Unit (as delineated in the 2007 Indiana Bat Draft Recovery 
Plan, USFWS); (8) a conservation program consisting of avoidance and 
minimization measures, mitigation, monitoring, and adaptive management; 
(9) funding for the HCP; (10) procedures to deal with changed and 
unforeseen circumstances; and (11) methods for ITP amendments.
    In addition to the draft HCP, the applicant has prepared an 
Implementing Agreement (IA) to document the responsibilities of the 
parties. The USFWS invites comment on the IA as well as the applicant's 
    Under the NEPA (43 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and the ESA, the Service 
announces that we have gathered the information necessary to:
    1. Determine the impacts and formulate alternatives for an EIS 
related to:
    a. Issuance of an ITP to the applicant for the take of the Indiana 
bat, and
    b. Implementation of the associated HCP; and
    2. Evaluate the application for ITP issuance, including the HCP, 
which provides measures to minimize and mitigate the effects of the 
proposed incidental take of Indiana bat.


    Buckeye Wind, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of EverPower Wind 
Holdings, Inc. (EverPower).
    The project has been in the planning and development phase since 
2006. Indiana bats were discovered in and around the Buckeye Wind 
action area during pre-construction wildlife surveys in 2008 and 2009. 
Because wind power projects across the eastern United States have been 
documented to cause mortality of bats in general, and Indiana bats 
specifically, Buckeye Wind determined it was appropriate to develop an 
HCP and apply for an ITP to authorize the potential incidental take of 
Indiana bats from construction, operation, maintenance, and 
decommissioning of the project. The HCP was developed by Buckeye Wind 
and their consultants, in coordination with the Service.
    The HCP provides a detailed conservation plan to ensure that the 
incidental take caused by the project will not appreciably reduce the 
likelihood of the survival and recovery of the covered species in the 
action area or in the recovery unit, and provides mitigation to fully 
offset the impact of the taking. Further, the HCP provides a long-term 
monitoring and adaptive management strategy to ensure that the ITP 
terms are satisfied, and to account for changed and unforeseen 

Purpose and Need for Action

    In accordance with NEPA, the Service has prepared an EIS to analyze 
the impacts to the human environment that would occur if the requested 
ITP were issued and the associated HCP were implemented.

Proposed Action

    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the ``taking'' of threatened and 
endangered species. However, provided certain criteria are met, the 
Service is authorized to issue permits under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
ESA for take of federally listed species when, among other things, such 
a taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful 
activities. Under the ESA, the term ``take'' means to harass, harm, 
pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect endangered 
and threatened species, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. 
Our implementing regulations define ``harm'' as an act which actually 
kills or injures wildlife, and such act may include significant habitat 
modification or degradation that results in death or injury to listed 
species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, 
including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). Harass, as 
defined, means ``an intentional or negligent act or omission which 
creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an 
extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns which 
include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering'' (50 
CFR 17.3).
    The HCP analyzes, and the ITP would cover, take from harassment, 
harm, and killing of bats due to the construction, operation, 
maintenance, and decommissioning associated with the project. If 
issued, the ITP would authorize incidental take consistent with the 
applicant's HCP and the permit. To issue the ITP, the Service must find 
that Buckeye Wind's application, including its HCP, satisfies the 
criteria of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA and the Service's 
implementing regulations at 50 CFR parts 13 and 17.22. If the ITP is 
issued, the applicant would receive assurances under the Service's No 
Surprises policy, as codified at 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5).
    Buckeye Wind proposes to construct and operate a maximum of 100 
wind turbines and associated facilities (described below) for a period 
of 30 years in eastern Champaign County, Ohio. The project will consist 
of wind turbines, associated access roads, an underground and 
aboveground electrical collector system, a substation for connection of 
the wind turbines to the local transmission system, four permanent 
meteorological towers, and an operations and maintenance building. In 
addition, up to four temporary construction staging areas

[[Page 38821]]

will be created during development. Project facilities and 
infrastructure will be placed on private land via long-term easement 
agreements between Buckeye Wind and respective landowners.
    While approximately 80,051 acres are located within the Buckeye 
Wind action area, a relatively small portion of that land, 
approximately 0.16 percent (129.8 acres), will be permanently occupied 
by the project facilities. Beyond the approximately 129 acres of 
occupied area, as described in Section 2.2 of the HCP, the project will 
not impact or change the existing land use.
    The draft HCP describes the impacts of take associated with Buckeye 
Wind's activities and includes measures to avoid, minimize, mitigate, 
and monitor the impacts of incidental take on the Indiana bat. Buckeye 
Wind will be mitigating for take and associated impacts through 
permanent preservation, enhancement, and restoration of suitable 
Indiana bat habitat within 7 miles of a Priority 2 Indiana bat 
hibernaculum (USFWS, 2007, Draft Indiana Bat Recovery Plan) in Ohio. 
Mitigation will occur on private lands and will be permanently 
protected by a conservation easement held by a third-party conservation 
organization. Section 6.3 of the HCP describes the details of 
compensatory mitigation and its implementation. The HCP also includes 
numerous avoidance and minimization measures, as described in sections 
6.1 through 6.2, as well as adaptive management, as described in 
section 6.5, which will limit the take of the Indiana bat.
    The Service is soliciting information regarding the adequacy of the 
HCP to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor the proposed incidental 
take of the covered species and to provide for adaptive management. In 
compliance with section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1539(c)), the 
Service is making the ITP application materials available for public 
review and comment as described above.
    We invite comments and suggestions from all interested parties on 
the draft documents associated with the ITP application (HCP, HCP 
Appendices, and IA), and request that comments be as specific as 
possible. In particular, we request information and comments on the 
following topics:
    1. Whether adaptive management and monitoring provisions in the 
Proposed Action alternative are sufficient;
    2. Any threats to the covered species that may influence its 
population over the life of the ITP that are not addressed in the HCP 
or EIS;
    3. Any new information on white-nose syndrome effects on the 
covered species;
    4. Whether the models and model inputs used to estimate risk to the 
covered species are appropriate; and
    5. Any other information pertinent to evaluating the effects of the 
proposed action on the Indiana bat.

Alternatives in the Draft EIS

    The draft EIS contains an analysis of four alternatives: (1) No 
Action (no permit issuance); (2) Proposed Action--Modified Operations 
Alternative, including implementation of the HCP and Issuance of a 30-
year ITP; (3) Maximally Restricted Operations Alternative, without an 
HCP or ITP; and (4) Minimally Restricted Operations Alternative and 
Issuance of a 30-year ITP. The draft EIS 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 EIS also identifies additional 
alternatives that were considered but were eliminated from 
consideration as detailed in Section 2.3 of the EIS.
    The Service invites comments and suggestions from all interested 
parties on the content of the draft EIS. In particular, information and 
comments regarding the following topics are requested:
    1. The direct, indirect, or cumulative effects that implementation 
of any alternative could have on the human environment;
    2. Whether or not the significance of the impact on various aspects 
of the human environment has been adequately analyzed; and
    3. Any other information pertinent to evaluating the effects of the 
proposed action on the human environment.

Public Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials concerning the notice by 
one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you send 
comments only by one of the methods described in ADDRESSES.
    If you submit a comment via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire 
comment--including any personal identifying information--will be posted 
on the Web site. We will post all hardcopy comments on http://www.regulations.gov as well. If you submit a hardcopy comment that 
includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top 
of your document that we withhold this information from public review. 
However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as documents associated 
with the notice, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2012-0036, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the Ohio Ecological 
Services Field Office in Columbus, Ohio (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 


    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22), and NEPA 
(42 U.S.C. 4371 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 
1506.6; 43 CFR part 46).

    Dated: June 21, 2012.
Lynn Lewis,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Midwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-15664 Filed 6-28-12; 8:45 am]