Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Eagle Conservation Plan, Take Permit Help Protect Long-Term Health of Golden Eagles Near Southern California Wind Energy Project

November 1, 2016

Contact:

Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220
Website: https://www.fws.gov/external-affairs/public-affairs/



Sacramento –The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has worked closely with Alta Wind X LLC to develop comprehensive conservation measures for golden eagles and other wildlife in the vicinity of the company’s Alta East Wind Project in Kern County, California. The completion of the company’s conservation plan paved the way for the Service today to issue a five-year permit to Alta Wind X to ensure the company continues to make eagle conservation a priority at its operations. The plan and permit are the second of their kind in the nation and serve as an example to other traditional and renewable energy producers in the area and elsewhere across the country of how to best protect America’s eagles.

“We are committed to ensuring energy development is compatible with the conservation of our nation’s wildlife and are delighted Alta Wind X chose to work collaboratively with us to protect golden eagles at their project site,” said Eric Davis, assistant regional director of the Service’s Migratory Bird Program. “We hope this will encourage other companies to work with us to produce similar eagle conservation plans and provide a better future for California’s wildlife.”

The 137-megawatt, 48-turbine Alta East Wind Project operates on a 2,274-acre site in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area near Mojave, Calif. In its permit application, Alta Wind X, LLC provided an Eagle Conservation Plan that describes robust measures the company will implement to avoid, minimize and mitigate the project’s impacts to eagles. The plan was prepared in close coordination with the Service using eagle conservation guidelines developed for the wind energy industry. The company also provided a strategy to conserve bats and other migratory birds.

“The Service strives to work proactively with energy producers to prevent eagle deaths by engaging them in the permit process. This helps developers implement sound conservation practices that avoid, minimize and mitigate for eagle mortality and to obtain a degree of regulatory certainty for unavoidable harm to eagles that still occurs despite these efforts,” said Davis. “The result is an overall benefit to the eagle population.”  

Although the Service cannot require companies to apply for eagle take permits, it is able to investigate harm to eagles and to recommend prosecution for unauthorized take under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Although legal remedies are available to enforce the act, the Service strives to first work proactively and collaboratively with industries of all types to avoid and mitigate harm to eagles. In return for advancing eagle conservation, the Service provides greater regulatory (and therefore financial) certainty to the permittees that they will not be prosecuted for take that cannot be avoided.

The Service determined that if the conservation steps outlined in the Alta East plan are taken, the project will result in no net loss to eagle populations in the area. Therefore, the agency will grant a permit to Alta Wind X, LLC for take of up to three golden eagles at the facility throughout a five-year period. The wind project will help California meet its goal of producing 33 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The issuance of the take permit is not the end of the Service’s involvement in this wind project. The Alta East Wind Project will provide valuable monitoring data that will help biologists learn more about the interactions of eagles with wind power projects and ensure avoidance and mitigation measures are adequate. If the number of eagles killed at the facility approaches the permit limit, the Service can re-engage in consultation with the company and request implementation of additional protection measures.

A notice of availability of the Service’s Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) and response to public comments on the draft environmental assessment will be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register. Thirty days after publication, the Service will issue the permit to Alta Wind X, LLC for their Alta East Wind Project.

The full text of the FEA is available at: http://www.fws.gov/cno/conservation/migratorybirds.html


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work in California, Nevada and the Klamath Basin in southern Oregon, visit http://www.fws.gov/cno. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.

                                                                                                              -FWS-
 

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.