[Federal Register: January 29, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 19)]
[Page 4840-4842]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-ES-2009-N263; 30120-1113-0000-F6]

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Indiana Bat; 30-
Day Scoping Period for a National Environmental Policy Act Decision on 
a Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of intent to conduct a 30-day scoping period for a 
National Environmental Policy Act decision on a proposed habitat 
conservation plan and incidental take permit; request for comments.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), intend to 
prepare a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document for a 
decision on a proposed habitat conservation plan (HCP) and incidental 
take permit (ITP) for the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) at a wind power 
project in Champaign County, Ohio. We provide this notice to advise 
other agencies, tribes, and the public of our intentions, and to obtain 
suggestions and information on the scope of the NEPA review and issues 
to consider in the planning process. We are also using this opportunity 
to seek comments on

[[Page 4841]]

the appropriate level of NEPA review, and whether an Environmental 
Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would be the 
appropriate level.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
March 1, 2010.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by one of the following methods:
    U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Ms. Megan Seymour, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Ohio Field Office, 4625 Morse Rd., Suite 104, 
Columbus, OH 43230;
    E-mail: EverPowerHCP@fws.gov; or
    Fax: (614) 416-8994 (Attention: Megan Seymour).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Megan Seymour at (614) 416-8993, 
extension 16. Individuals who are hearing-impaired or speech-impaired 
may call the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8337 for TTY 


Public Comments

    We request data, comments, new information, or suggestions from the 
public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this 
notice. We will consider all comments we receive in complying with the 
requirements of NEPA and in the development of an HCP and ITP. We 
particularly seek comments concerning:
    (1) Biological information concerning the Indiana bat;
    (2) Relevant data concerning wind power and bat interactions;
    (3) Additional information concerning the range, distribution, 
population size, and population trends of the Indiana bat;
    (4) Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on the Indiana bat;
    (5) The presence of facilities within the project area which are 
eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places or 
whether other historical, archeological, or traditional cultural 
properties may be present;
    (6) The appropriate level of NEPA review, specifically whether 
development of an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) would be appropriate; and
    (7) Identification of any other environmental issues that we should 
consider with regard to the proposed development and permit action.
    You may submit your comments and materials considering this notice 
by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we use in preparing the NEPA document, will be available 
for public inspection by appointment, during normal business hours, at 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ohio Field Office (see FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT). You may obtain copies of this notice by mail from 
the Ohio Field Office, or on the Internet at: http://www.fws.gov/


    The Indiana bat was added to the list of Endangered and Threatened 
Wildlife and Plants on March 11, 1967 (32 FR 4001). It is currently 
listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; ESA). The population decline 
of this species is attributed to habitat loss and degradation of both 
winter hibernation habitat and summer roosting habitat, human 
disturbance during hibernation, and possibly pesticides. An additional 
and emerging threat to Indiana bats is White-Nose Syndrome (Geomyces 
destructans), a recently discovered fungus that invades the skin of 
bats, causing ulcers that may alter hibernation arousal patterns, and 
which can cause emaciation. The range of the Indiana bat includes much 
of the eastern United States, and Ohio is located within the core 
maternity range of the bat. Winter habitat for the Indiana bat includes 
caves and mines that support high humidity and cool but stable 
temperatures. In the summer, Indiana bats roost under the loose bark of 
dead or dying trees. During summer, males roost alone or in small 
groups, while females and their offspring roost in larger groups of 100 
or more. Indiana bats forage for insects in and along the edges of 
forested areas and wooded stream corridors. Maternity colonies of 
Indiana bats have recently been detected in Champaign County, Ohio, 
though no Indiana bat hibernacula have been documented in this county.
    EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc. is planning the development of a wind 
power project in Champaign County, Ohio. The project would be spread 
across 80,370 acres within portions of Union, Wayne, Urbana, Salem, 
Rush, and Goshen Townships. Development of the wind power project would 
include installation of up to 100 wind turbines and associated 
collection lines, access roads, utility lines, substations, operation 
and maintenance facility buildings, and temporary staging areas and 
concrete batch plants. The wind turbine hub height would be 
approximately 100 meters (m), and the rotor diameter would be 
approximately 100 m, for an approximate total height of 150 m at the 
rotor apex. Installation of each individual turbine will temporarily 
impact an area of approximately 2.9 acres, while the final footprint of 
each turbine will be approximately 0.2 acres. Access roads to the 
turbines will have a temporary width of up to 55 feet during 
construction, and a permanent width of 16-20 feet. Despite the 
relatively small acreage of land to be affected by the project, impacts 
to wildlife--particularly birds and bats--are anticipated.
    The project is located in a rural setting, with the landscape 
primarily composed of agricultural properties. Woodlots are scattered 
throughout the project area. Several small towns (Mutual and Cable) 
occur within the project area, and individual homes and low-density 
residential areas are also scattered throughout.
    EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc., in conjunction with the Service, has 
determined that take of Indiana bats is likely to occur from 
development of the proposed wind power project. To authorize take, 
EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc. plans to develop an HCP and request 
issuance of an ITP from the Service. Relevant information provided in 
response to this notice will aid in developing the HCP and NEPA 
document, and potentially the ITP, should take be authorized.
    At this point, the Service has not developed any alternatives for 
the NEPA document. Any preferred alternative developed by the Service 
will contain various measures to avoid and minimize impacts to Indiana 
bats, including the impact of lethal take. Various methods that may be 
considered include, but are not limited to: Protection of roost trees 
and surrounding habitat, set-back distances from known roost trees, 
mapping and avoidance of foraging areas, protection and enhancement of 
Indiana bat habitat outside the project area, removal of small woodlots 
near turbines to preclude expansion of Indiana bat usage near turbines, 
various curtailment regimes for turbines during prime activity or 
migration periods, and post-construction monitoring for fatalities.


    We furnish this notice under NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.7 and 
1508.22). The intent of the notice is to enable us to obtain 
suggestions and additional information from other agencies and the 
public on the scope of issues to be considered.

[[Page 4842]]

    Dated: December 21, 2009.
Lynn M. Lewis,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Region 3, Fort 
Snelling, MN.
[FR Doc. 2010-1810 Filed 1-28-10; 8:45 am]