Conserving the Nature of America
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and OwnEnergy, Inc. seek to improve bat protections at New York wind facility
Public input invited as conservation planning gets underway

April 28, 2015


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

Wind turbines can incidentally injure or kill bats, including the endangered Indiana bat pictured above. Conservation measures, such as adjusting winter turbine operations during the fall, can significantly reduce these incidents with fairly small losses of power generation. Credit: Ann Froschauer/USFWS
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As renewable energy continues to develop across the northeast, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is working with industry to reduce the effects of utility-scale wind turbines on threatened and endangered species.

OwnEnergy, Inc., is in the process of preparing a habitat conservation plan for its proposed 62-turbine Copenhagen Wind Farm in Jefferson and Lewis counties for the long-term conservation of the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and the threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis).

As OwnEnergy begins this process, the Service seeks public input through May 28, 2015, on issues to consider in developing and evaluating the plan.

A habitat conservation plan is needed at the Copenhagen Wind Farm because the development and operation of the wind farm could incidentally injure or kill (take) bat species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The plan will outline actions the company will take to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts to protected bat species.

Potential actions could include operating turbines during periods of less bat activity, removing roosting trees during winter when bats aren’t present, and protecting and enhancing hibernation and summer habitat areas. Many of these actions could also benefit other bats, such as eastern red bats, hoary bats, little brown bats, and big brown bats.

Once the plan is approved, the Service could permit “take” associated with the wind facility’s operations to continue in compliance with the ESA.

The Service will prepare an environmental assessment regarding the effects of the pending draft habitat conservation plan and permit application. We seek input on:

  • Range, distribution, population size, and population trends of Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats in New York State;
  • Biological information concerning Indiana bats, northern long-eared bats, and other federally listed species that occur in New York State that could be affected by proposed covered activities;
  • Relevant data and information concerning myotid bat interactions with wind turbine construction and operation;
  • Current or planned activities in the project planning area and their possible impacts on Indiana bats, northern long-eared bats, and other federally listed species in New York State;
  • The presence of facilities within the project planning area that are eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or whether other historical, archeological, or traditional cultural properties may be present; and
  • Any other issues relating to the human environment and potential impacts that we should consider with regard to the project planning area, covered activities, and potential permit issuance.

The draft assessment, plan and permit application will be released for public comment at a later date and before the Service determines whether it will issue a permit.

The Northeast Region of the Service has approved habitat conservation plans for two other wind energy projects—Beech Ridge Energy in West Virginia and Criterion Power Partners in Maryland—and recently announced that planning is underway for the North Allegheny wind facility in Pennsylvania.

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