EIS for Eagle Take Permits for the Chokecherry Sierra Madre Phase I Project
Comment Period Reopened
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has reopened the public comment period on the environmental analysis of Eagle Take Permits for Chokecherry Sierra Madre Phase I Project after a technical error was discovered that may have prevented the Service from receiving some public comments.
On June 9, 2016, it was discovered that the project email address was wrong on some outreach materials. Once the error was discovered, the incorrect email address was made active so the Service can receive comments sent to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Anyone who submitted comments prior to June 9, 2016 using the hyphen address, firstname.lastname@example.org, is asked to please resubmit comments. The new comment period is now open and comments will be received until July 29, 2016.
About the Project
On June 16, 2015, the Power Company of Wyoming LLC (PCW) requested a standard Eagle Take Permit (ETP) for construction of wind turbines and infrastructure components, and a programmatic ETP for operation of the Chokecherry Sierra Madre (CCSM) Phase I Project.
The CCSM Phase I project consists of the construction, maintenance, and decommissioning of 500 wind turbines on 53,710 acres in Carbon County, Wyoming, south of the city of Rawlins. If the project meets all the necessary approvals, it could become the largest wind facility in the United States.
Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is obligated to review the potential impacts on the natural and human environment associated with issuing an ETP. For this project, the USFWS has determined an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is warranted because the action may significantly impact the environment.
What Will be Reviewed in the USFWS EIS?
USFWS will analyze the environmental impacts associated with a decision on whether to issue eagle take permits for the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of the project. The EIS will evaluate all reasonable action alternatives and a no action alternative. The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) earlier and current analysis will be incorporated by reference.
Impacts to the following resources will be analyzed in detail:
Wildlife including bats, eagle prey, sage grouse, migratory birds and raptors
Habitat for eagles and other wildlife
Eagles at local and regional population levels
Public Information Manager
Louise Galiher: (303) 236-8677
Please note: If you submitted public comments prior to June 9, 2016, due to a typographical error, please resubmit your comments to the above email address. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Chokecherry-Sierra Madre EIS
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mountain-Prairie Region
ATTN: Louise Galiher
P.O. Box 25486 DFC
Denver, Colorado 80225
BGEPA: Bald and Golden
Eagle Protection Act
BLM: Bureau of Land Management
CCSM: Chokecherry Sierra Madre
EIS: Environmental Impact Statement
ETP: Eagle Take Permit
National Environmental Policy Act
Power Company of Wyoming, LLC
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
For ease of access the DEIS has been split into 28 separate files. All files are PDF. Need a PDF reader? Get a FREE one here
CCSM-DEIS-1 - Cover
CCSM-DEIS-2 - Chapter 1: Purpose
CCSM-DEIS-3 - Chapter 2: Description
CCSM-DEIS-4 - Chapter 3: AE and EC
CCSM-DEIS-5 - Chapter 4: Cumulative
CCSM-DEIS-6 - Chapter 5: Consultation & Coordination
CCSM-DEIS-7 - Chapter 6: List of Preparers
CCSM-DEIS-8 - Chapter 7: Glossary
CCSM-DEIS-9 - Chapter 8: References
CCSM-DEIS-10 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 1
CCSM-DEIS-11 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 2
CCSM-DEIS-12 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 3
CCSM-DEIS-13 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 4
CCSM-DEIS-14 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 5
CCSM-DEIS-15 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 6
CCSM-DEIS-16 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 7
CCSM-DEIS-17 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 8
CCSM-DEIS-18 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 9
CCSM-DEIS-19 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 10
CCSM-DEIS-20 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 11
CCSM-DEIS-21 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 12
CCSM-DEIS-22 - Attachment A ETP Apps and ECP Part 13
CCSM-DEIS-23 - Attachment B BBCS Part 1
CCSM-DEIS-24 - Attachment B BBCS Part 2
CCSM-DEIS-25 - Attachment B BBCS Part 3
CCSM-DEIS-26 - Attachment B BBCS Part 4
CCSM-DEIS-27 - Attachment C USFWS Eagle Fatality Modeling
CCSM-DEIS-28 - Attachment D CCSM Bird List
Public Outreach and Coordination
- Press Release: Comment Period Reopened on Eagle Impacts Environmental Analysis from Proposed Wind Energy Project
What is the Difference Between the BLM EIS and the USFWS EIS?
As a permitting agency with jurisdiction over the ETP, the USFWS has an independent obligation to comply with NEPA to review the ETP application submitted by PCW. While the BLM NEPA documents provide a foundation for the review, the USFWS EIS will focus primarily on eagles and related resources (habitat and prey), as well as migratory birds and other wildlife that might be affected by the issuance of an ETP.
The BLM performed a NEPA review because about half of the CCSM project would be located on federal land and require the issuance of a Right-of-way (ROW) grant from the BLM. As the agency with jurisdiction to issue the grant, the BLM undertook a tiered NEPA review of the CCSM Phase I project area.
The BLM issued two Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) documents relating to the CCSM Project, which led to the issuance of a Record of Decision in October 2012. BLM’s NEPA review determined that portions of the area are suitable for wind development and identified mitigation measures and design features to reduce impacts to the environment. The BLM is now conducting a review of PCW’s site-specific development plans for the infrastructure components of the project and Phase I of the wind development. Once NEPA review of these development plans is completed, the BLM will determine whether to issue the ROW grant needed by the applicant to begin construction on the project.
The BLM’s NEPA Review documents can be found at the following link:
What is an Eagle Take Permit?
Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), eagle take is defined as “to pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, destroy, molest or disturb an eagle.” An ETP is a permit issued by the USFWS which authorizes the take of eagles. The USFWS will issue eagle take permits only after the applicant has committed to undertake all practical measures to avoid and minimize impacts to eagles.
What are the Take Regulations and Types of Permits?
Regulations established in 2009 allow for incidental and nest take. Take permit applications must do the following:
Be ‘consistent with goal of stable or increasing eagle breeding populations’ (no net loss).
Be part of an otherwise lawful activity.
Comply with all avoidance, minimization, or other mitigation measures determined as reasonable and specified in the terms by the permit.
Monitor eagle use of important eagle-use areas for up to three years or implement an Eagle Conservation Plan as set forth by the permit.
Submit an annual report on monitoring activities and eagle mortality. The service will make eagle mortality information from annual reports of programmatic permits available to the public.
BGEPA regulations allow for two non-purposeful take permit types; one for standard permits allowing individual instances of take that cannot be practicably avoided, and a second for programmatic permits that provides for recurring take that is unavoidable. The CCSM project proponent has applied for both types of ETPs.
Standard ETP: The CCSM Phase I standard take permit would last for the duration of construction activities and cover the possibility of golden eagle and bald eagle nest disturbance take.
Programmatic ETP: The CCSM Phase I programmatic take permit would take effect when the first turbine begins operating. The permit would authorize lethal take of bald and golden eagles resulting from collision with turbine blades and be valid for a maximum of five years. It is anticipated that PCW would reapply for a programmatic ETP after each five year permit cycle, for the anticipated operational duration of the CCSM Phase I Project (30 years). All predicted golden eagle take would be offset through compensatory mitigation by the proponent.