FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2016
Contact: Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 1203, Georgia_Parham@fws.gov
Draft Habitat Conservation Plan for Wildcat Wind Farm Available for Public Comment
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft plan to help ensure Wildcat Wind Farm in central Indiana does not contribute to the decline of two imperiled bat species already affected by threats such as disease and loss of habitat. The Service is accepting comments on the draft plan, a draft environmental assessment and a draft implementing agreement through August 4, 2016.
The draft Wildcat Wind Farm Habitat Conservation Plan accompanies an application by Wildcat for an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act that would authorize limited, unintentional take of the endangered Indiana bat and threatened northern long-eared bat during operation of the wind energy facility. The plan outlines measures the company would take for long-term conservation of both bat species if the permit is approved.
Under the Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to “take” federally endangered or threatened species – even unintentionally – without a permit. Take includes killing, harming or harassing a listed species. Habitat conservation plans are agreements between the Service and a landowner, private company or non-federal agency under the Endangered Species Act allowing them to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property that may result in the incidental take of a federally endangered or threatened species. Permit applicants must avoid, minimize and mitigate all incidental take caused by their actions; the habitat conservation plan specifies how these activities will be carried out.
When finalized, the Wildcat Wind Farm Habitat Conservation Plan would authorize incidental take that results from operating and future expansion of the company’s 125-turbine wind farm in Madison and Tipton counties in central Indiana for 28 years. The facility has been operating since 2012.
Measures to avoid and minimize incidental take of the two bat species include constructing turbines outside of suitable summer roosting habitat and adjusting turbine operations so the blades are spinning very slowly, if at all, during low wind speed conditions when bats are more likely to be active. Mitigation for the impact of the incidental take includes protection of summer roosting habitat within the home range of known maternity colonies of Indiana and northern long-eared bats.
The draft habitat conservation plan, draft environmental assessment and draft implementing agreement are available for review at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/permits/hcp/wildcat/. Public comments will be accepted through August 4, 2016, and may be submitted by one of the following methods:
Electronically: Submit by email to: CommentBFO@fws.gov.
By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Bloomington Ecological Services Field Office; 620 S. Walker Street; Bloomington, IN 47403
In your comment, please specify whether your comment addresses the draft habitat conservation plan, draft environmental assessment, draft implementing agreement or all documents.
For more information about endangered species in the Midwest, go to www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered