[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 85 (Thursday, May 2, 2013)]
[Page 25758]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-10387]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R9-MB-2012-N094; FF09M29000-112-FXMB123209EAGL0L2]
RIN 1018-AX53

Migratory Birds; Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance: Module 1--
Land-Based Wind Energy, Version 2

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce 
that Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance: Module 1--Land-based Wind 
Energy, Version 2 is available. The guidance provides recommendations 
for agency staff and developers to use an iterative process to avoid 
and minimize negative effects on eagles and their habitats resulting 
from the construction, operation, and maintenance of land-based, wind 
energy facilities in the United States.

Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North 
Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22203-1610, or 703-358-1825.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Service is charged with implementing 
many statutes that provide protection to bald and golden eagles, 
including the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) (16 U.S.C. 
668-668c), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) (16 U.S.C. 703-12), and 
the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1531-44). Under these 
statutes, the Service implements permit programs for eagles as 
authorized by implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations (CFR). In 2009, the Service promulgated regulations 
in 50 CFR part 22 authorizing issuance of permits for nonpurposeful 
take of eagles (74 FR 46836, September 11, 2009). On February 18, 2011, 
we issued a draft of The Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance: Module 1--
Land-based Wind Energy for public comment (76 FR 9529). We received 124 
comments by the end of the comment period on May 19, 2011.
    We have considered the public comments received on the draft 
guidance and now issue the Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance: Module 1--
Land-based Wind Energy, Version 2 (ECPG) to assist potential permit 
applicants and to promote compliance with BGEPA with respect to such 
permits. The ECPG describes a process for wind energy developers, in 
coordination with the Service, to collect and analyze information that 
could support an application for a programmatic permit to authorize 
unintentional take of eagles at wind energy facilities. The ECPG 
provides recommendations for the development of eagle conservation 
plans (ECPs) to support issuance of eagle programmatic take permits for 
wind facilities.
    Programmatic take permits will authorize limited nonpurposeful 
mortality and disturbance of eagles at wind facilities, provided that 
effective offsetting conservation measures that meet regulatory 
requirements are carried out. To comply with the permit regulations, 
conservation measures must avoid and minimize take of eagles to the 
maximum degree practicable, and, for programmatic permits necessary to 
authorize ongoing take of eagles, advanced conservation practices must 
be implemented, if available, such that any remaining take is 
    Further, for eagle management populations that the Service has 
determined cannot sustain additional mortality, any remaining take must 
be offset through compensatory mitigation such that the net effect on 
the eagle management population is, at a minimum, no net loss. The ECPG 
interprets and clarifies the permit requirements in the regulations at 
50 CFR 22.26 and 22.27 and does not impose any binding requirements 
beyond those specified in the regulations.
    The Service recommends that ECPs be developed in five successive 
stages. The process is intended to be a progressive, increasingly 
intensive look at potential effects of the development and operation of 
a particular site and design configuration to eagles. The objectives, 
recommended actions, and recommended data sources for each of the five 
stages in the ECP are described in the Stage Overview table in the 
guidance. The ECPG recommends that project developers or operators 
employ specific procedures in their site assessments so the data can be 
combined with that from other facilities in a formal adaptive 
management process. This adaptive management process is designed to 
reduce uncertainty about the effects of wind facilities on eagles.
    Project developers or operators are not required to use the 
recommended procedures in this ECPG. However, if different approaches 
are used, the developer or operator should coordinate with the Service 
in advance to ensure that approaches being considered will provide 
comparable data and meet the regulatory requirements. Additionally, 
Service review time for applications that employ different approaches 
will likely be longer than if the recommendations in the ECPG were 
    The ECPG recommends that, at the end of each of the first four 
stages, project developers or operators determine, in consultation with 
the Service, which of the following categories the project, as planned, 
falls into: (1) High risk to eagles, with little opportunity to 
minimize effects; (2) high or moderate risk to eagles, but with an 
opportunity to minimize effects; or (3) minimal risk to eagles.
    The ECPG is posted online at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds. You 
can request a printed copy of the guidance by writing to the address or 
calling the phone number listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Dated: April 24, 2013.
Daniel M. Ashe,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-10387 Filed 5-1-13; 8:45 am]