U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News
August 23, 2012
  Wind energy company requests Endangered Species Act permit for W.Va. project    

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Meagan Racey, 413-253-8558, meagan_racey@fws.gov; Laura Hill, 304-636-6586 x 18

Beech Ridge Energy has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an incidental take permit addressing impacts to endangered bats at the company’s wind energy project in Greenbrier and Nicholas counties, West Virginia.

The Service invites public comment on Beech Ridge Energy’s draft habitat conservation plan, a requirement for the permit, and the Service’s draft environmental impact statement, an assessment of the plan and alternatives to it. This is the third permit application in the U.S. for impacts to Indiana bats on wind projects.

The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to “take,” meaning harm or kill, federally threatened or endangered wildlife. Some otherwise legal activities, such as wind turbine operation, have the risk of incidentally taking protected species. An incidental take permit allows for those activities to continue, as long as the applicant undertakes reasonable and practical measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate take of listed species, among other requirements.

“The Service will continue to work with wind companies like Beech Ridge Energy to plan operations that minimize impacts to wildlife,” said Deb Carter, supervisor for the Service’s West Virginia field office. “As the nation’s energy future unfolds, it’s important that we work together to meet the needs of people and protected animals and plants.”

The 25-year permit for the Beech Ridge Energy project would cover take of Virginia big-eared and Indiana bats during operation of 67 existing turbines and construction of an additional 33 turbines. The project currently operates year-round under conditions that are not likely to take endangered bats. These conditions apply while Beech Ridge Energy continues to work through the permit and conservation plan process.

Habitat conservation plans provide frameworks for partnerships between the public and private sectors in protecting endangered species. These plans identify the potential impacts to wildlife from a project or program; the steps the applicant will take to reduce or compensate for such impacts; what alternative actions were considered; and how conservation efforts will be funded.

The Service will accept written comments on the draft documents through Oct. 23, 2012. After the comment period ends, the Service will determine if the application meets the permit issuance requirements.

Written comments may be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal by searching for docket # FWS-R5-ES-2012-0059 at http://www.regulations.gov, or by hard copy via U.S. mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R5-ES-2012-0059, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM, Arlington, VA 22203.

Learn more at http://www.fws.gov/westvirginiafieldoffice/beechridge.html. Please note that documents will be available at the West Virginia field office page beginning August 23 and at the Federal eRulemaking Portal beginning August 24.

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