Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Service Seeks Public Comment on Scope of Impacts to Eagles from Hycroft Mining Company’s Operations and Proposed Expansion

September 21, 2017

Contact:

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



SACRAMENTO, Calif. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input on the potential environmental impacts of issuing a permit to disturb golden eagles and their habitats at a Northern Nevada gold mine. Along with ongoing operations at the mine, Hycroft Resource and Development Incorporated is proposing an expansion to the mine and is therefore requesting permits to disturb eagles, which are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act).

Hycroft is requesting a permit to remove unoccupied golden eagle nests and an additional incidental take permit to cover unintentional disturbance to and loss of eagles from their ongoing activities. With their permit application, Hycroft has submitted an eagle conservation plan that proposes proactive conservation measures to minimize the impacts to golden eagles and enhance eagle breeding opportunities in the region to offset unavoidable harm.

The Service’s goal is to maintain stable or increasing breeding eagle populations. While the Eagle Act prohibits “take” of eagles (broadly defined as harm – intentional or unintentional – to eagles, their nests or their eggs) it does provide the Service with the ability to issue take permits to facilitate development projects and other economically beneficial activities. Companies are not required to have an eagle take permit before undertaking an activity. However, companies operating without one risk federal penalties, including criminal prosecution, for any unauthorized take of eagles that may subsequently occur. The permitting process provides an opportunity for the Service to reduce impacts to eagles by working collaboratively with the applicant before such take occurs. The take permit specifies the type of take and the maximum number of eagles that may be taken in a given period.

Before being issued a permit, however, an applicant must demonstrate that it is implementing measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate threats to eagles. The Service must determine that any unavoidable take is compatible with the preservation of eagles and the standard of maintaining stable breeding populations. Any take of golden eagles must be offset, for example by preventing eagle loss elsewhere or by improving eagle breeding habitat.

Hycroft developed an eagle conservation plan (ECP), as part of their permit application. An ECP identifies important eagle use areas, describes a project’s anticipated impacts on eagles, details the avian conservation and mitigation measures that will be implemented to minimize impacts to eagles, and provides a monitoring plan that will ensure the information in the ECP is valid and the conservation measures are effective.

 The Service intends to prepare a joint environmental impact statement (EIS) with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Service will analyze the impacts associated with the Service’s eagle take permit decisions; BLM will analyze potential impacts of their decision regarding Hycroft Resource and Development Incorporated’s proposed expansion as described in BLM’s Notice of Intent published in December 2014.

The Service will use the information in the EIS as well the programmatic environmental impact statement it prepared last year that analyzes the overall effects of issuing eagle take permits nationwide, to evaluate the effects of issuing the requested eagle take permits to Hycroft as well as the effects of other alternatives, including an alternative of not issuing any permits. In addition, the Service will use the information in the ECP and EIS to determine if issuance of the permits to Hycroft is compatible and consistent with the standard under the Eagle Act of maintaining a stable or increasing breeding population.

The Service is seeking public comments to help obtain suggestions and information from agencies and the public on the scope of issues and alternatives to be addressed in the environmental impact statement. The Service is particularly interested in comments regarding the creation of new golden eagle nest sites or territories, a potential mitigation option. The Service will accept comments during a 60-day comment period which will close on November 21, 2017. Two public meetings will be held:

  • Tuesday, October 10, 2017
    5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
    Hyatt Place, Reno-Tahoe Airport, 1790 E. Plumb Lane, Reno, Nevada 89502
     
  • Wednesday, October 11, 2017
    5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
    Winnemucca Convention Center, 50 W. Winnemucca Blvd. Winnemucca, Nevada 89445

 You may request further information or submit comment by one of the following methods:

  •  Email: fw8_eaglepermits@fws.gov, Include “Hycroft Mine Eagle Conservation Plan EIS” in the subject line of the message.
  • U.S. Mail or hand delivery: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825.
  • Fax: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird Program, 916-414-6486, Attn: Hycroft Eagle Conservation Plan EIS Comments.

 For more information, please visit: https://www.fws.gov/cno/conservation/MigratoryBirds/EaglePermits.html

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit https://www.fws.gov/cno/ or connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

 

                                                                                         -FWS-

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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.