Newsroom Midwest Region

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2015

Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 1203, Georgia_Parham@fws.gov

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Develop Environmental Impact Statement for Regional Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is inviting public input as it develops an environmental impact statement to evaluate the potential impacts of issuing incidental take permits for covered species under the draft Midwest Wind Energy Multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan.

The draft plan is being prepared by the Service and their planning partners, including state wildlife agencies for seven of the eight states within the plan area, the American Wind Energy Association, a consortium of wind energy companies and The Conservation Fund.  States within the plan area include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. 

The plan addresses incidental take of eight species that may be injured or killed at wind turbine facilities. The covered species include Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat, Kirtland’s warbler, Great Lakes and northern Great Plains populations of the piping plover, and least tern, all listed under the Endangered Species Act. Also covered are the bald eagle, protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the little brown bat.

Habitat conservation plans are agreements between a landowner or non-federal company or group and the Service, allowing permit applicants to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property that may result in the incidental death, injury or harassment of covered species; the applicant agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions.

The Service will host public scoping meetings in each of the eight covered states to allow the public to provide input on the scope of the environmental impact statement.  The meetings provide the public and state and federal agencies an opportunity to identify important issues and potential alternatives related to the multi-species habitat conservation plan and the Service’s proposed action (issuance of incidental take permits and a programmatic eagle permit under the Eagle Act).  The 60-day scoping period begins with publication of a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register and runs from June 12, 2015, through August 11, 2015.
You may submit your comments and materials by any of the following methods:

U.S. Mail:
Regional Director, Attn: Rick Amidon
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services
5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990
Bloomington, MN 55437-1458 

Electronically:
Visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal:  www.regulations.gov. In the search box enter (Docket Number FWS-R3-ES-2015-0033). 

More information about the draft EIS for the proposed Midwest Wind Multi-species Habitat Conservation Plan can be found at http://midwestwindenergyhcpeis.org.  Information about endangered species in the Midwest can be found at www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered.  

Public meetings will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time at the following locations:

  • July 13 – Minneapolis, Minnesota. Elliot Recreation Center, 1000 E. 14th St. 55404
  • July 14 – Madison, Wisconsin. Warner Park Community Recreation Center, 1625 Northport Drive, 53704
  • July 15 – Ames, Iowa.  Iowa State Memorial Union, Campanile Room, 2229 Lincoln Way, 50011
  • July 16 – Columbia, Missouri. Battle High School Commons, 7575 E. St. Charles Road, 65202
  • July 20 – Lansing, Michigan. Letts Community Center Gymnasium, 1220 W. Kalamazoo Street 48915
  • July 21 – Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Downtown High School Commons,364 South 4th Street 43215
  • July 22 – Indianapolis, Indiana. World Sports Park Ballroom, 1313 South Post Road, 46239
  • July 23 – Bloomington, Illinois. Illinois Wesleyan University, Memorial Center, Young Main Lounge, 104 E. University Avenue, 61701

The first hour of each meeting will be an informal open house, followed by a brief presentation at approximately 6:00 p.m.  After the presentation, the informal open house will resume.

The Service also will host an online public meeting on Tuesday, July 28, 2015, at 1 p.m. CT.  For more information on this meeting, go to http://www.midwestwindenergyhcpeis.org
Additional opportunities for public comment during development of the environmental impact statement will be provided when the draft statement is released for public comment, which is anticipated for spring of 2016.