[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 6 (Tuesday, January 10, 2012)]
[Pages 1498-1500]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-288]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-ES-2011-N265; FF08E00000-FXES11120800000F2-123-F2]

Draft Environmental Assessment and Proposed Single-Species 
Habitat Conservation Plan for the Proposed Shiloh IV Wind Plant 
Project, Solano County, CA

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability: draft environmental assessment and 
proposed habitat conservation plan; request for comment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have prepared a draft 
environmental assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) for the Proposed Shiloh IV Wind Plant Project in response to 
an application from enXco (applicant) for a 36-year incidental take 
permit for one species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (Act). The application addresses the potential for ``take'' of 
one federally listed animal, the Central California Distinct Population 
Segment of the California tiger salamander. The applicant would 
implement a conservation program to minimize and mitigate the project 
activities, as described in the applicant's habitat conservation plan 
(plan). 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 the 
applicant's permit application, plan, and the associated EA.

DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by 
March 12, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Please address written comments to Mike Thomas, Conservation 
Planning Division, Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and 
Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. 
Alternatively, you may send comments by facsimile to (916) 414-6713.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Thomas, Chief, Conservation 
Planning Division, or Eric Tattersall, Deputy Assistant Field 
Supervisor, at the address shown above or at (916) 414-6600 
(telephone). If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf, 
please call the Federal Information Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), publish this notice under the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; NEPA), and its 
implementing regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 
CFR 1506.6, as well as in compliance with section 10(c) of the 
Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.; Act). We have prepared 
this EA to evaluate the impacts of several alternatives related to the 
potential issuance of an incidental take permit (ITP) to the applicant, 
as well as impacts of the implementation of the supporting proposed 
habitat conservation plan (plan).
    The applicant proposes to develop a plan as part of their 
application for an ITP under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act. The 
proposed plan will include measures necessary to minimize and mitigate 
the impacts, to the maximum extent practicable, of potential proposed 
taking of a federally listed species to be covered by the plan, and the 
habitats upon which it depends, resulting from construction and 
operation of the proposed Shiloh IV Wind Plant Project within the 
proposed plan area, to include portions of the Montezuma

[[Page 1499]]

Hills Wind Resource Area in Solano County, California.

Background Information

    Section 9 of the Act prohibits taking of fish and wildlife species 
listed as endangered or threatened under section 4 of the Act. Under 
the Act, the term ``take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, 
wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any 
such conduct. The term ``harm'' is defined in the regulations as 
significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death 
or injury of listed species by significantly impairing essential 
behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 
17.3). The term ``harass'' is defined in the regulations as to carry 
out actions that create the likelihood of injury to listed species to 
such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns, 
which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering 
(50 CFR 17.3).
    However, under specified circumstances, the Service may issue 
permits that allow the take of federally listed species, provided that 
the take that occurs is incidental to, but not the purpose of, an 
otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for endangered 
and threatened species are at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.32, respectively.
    Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act contains provisions for issuing such 
incidental take permits to non-Federal entities for the take of 
endangered and threatened species, provided the following criteria are 
    1. The taking will be incidental;
    2. The applicants will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize 
and mitigate the impact of such taking;
    3. The applicants will develop a proposed HCP and ensure that 
adequate funding for the plan will be provided;
    4. The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the 
survival and recovery of the species in the wild; and
    5. The applicants will carry out any other measures that the 
Service may require as being necessary or appropriate for the purposes 
of the HCP.

The applicant seeks incidental take authorization for the following 
federally listed threatened species--Central California Distinct 
Population Segment of the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma 
californiense)--which we will refer to as the covered species in this 
    The proposed covered activities under this plan include 
constructing and installing the wind turbines and associated electrical 
facilities and access roads, expanding the existing enXco operations 
and maintenance yard by 5,000 square feet, installing a new 230-
kilovolt substation (to be built on an existing pad), maintaining the 
new wind turbines and the associated facilities, and, later, 
decommissioning the facility and restoring the site. Specifically, 
proposed covered activities include grading, excavating to support 
access roads, trenching to install underground electrical lines, 
installing of erosion-control measures during covered construction and 
maintenance activities, installing new gravel roads, pouring a cement 
footing to support each turbine, installing of other infrastructure, 
gravel placement for road maintenance, vehicle travel, transport of 
equipment and supplies, and other similar actions necessary to support 
the construction, maintenance, and operation of the proposed Shiloh IV 
Wind Energy Project.

Alternatives in the Draft Environmental Assessment

    The proposed action presented in the draft EA will be compared to 
the no-action alternative. The no-action alternative represents 
estimated future conditions to which the proposed action's estimated 
future conditions can be compared. Other alternatives considered, 
including their potential impacts, are also addressed in the draft EA.

No Action Alternative

    Under the No Action alternative, we would not issue a permit, and 
the applicant would not construct the project. The no-action 
alternative would not achieve the applicant's objectives and would not 
allow the development of the project in a designated wind resource 

Reduced Take Alternative

    Under the Reduced Take Alternative, wind turbines would be sited 
farther than 500 feet from aquatic habitats, which would reduce the 
number of turbines that would be constructed. This alternative would 
not meet the applicant's objective of a generating capacity of 100 

Proposed Alternative

    The Shiloh IV Wind Plant Project would be constructed on 3,100 
acres encompassing the Plan Area in the Collinsville-Montezuma Hills 
Wind Resources Area, south of State Route 12 in Solano County, 
California. The Plan Area is within and surrounded by existing energy-
producing facilities and will effectively repower the enXco V project, 
currently present on the site. Adjacent energy-producing facilities 
include Shiloh I to the north and west, High Winds to the east, Shiloh 
II to the north, and Montezuma II to the south and east.
    The applicant proposes to develop its wind energy facility that 
would deliver renewable energy to the Pacific Gas & Electric California 
Independent System Operator power grid to meet California's Renewable 
Portfolio Standard goals and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions 
pursuant to California Assembly Bill 32 (Global Warming Solutions Act) 
and Solano County's General Plan. Up to 50 wind turbines would be built 
in the Plan Area. The project would be constructed in a location that 
supports suitable habitat for the Central California Distinct 
Population Segment of the California tiger salamander, a species listed 
as threatened under the Act. The Central California Distinct Population 
Segment of the California tiger salamander is the only proposed 
``Covered Species.''
    The ``Covered Activities'' included in the plan include the 
construction and installation of wind turbines and associated 
facilities and access roads, maintenance of the wind turbines and 
associated facilities, and decommissioning of the site. All turbines 
are proposed to be located in cultivated agricultural lands. The 
project is expected to result in permanent loss of 25 acres of 
agricultural land. Temporary construction effects are expected on 130 
acres of agricultural land (115 acres during construction and up to 15 
acres for maintenance activities) and approximately 2 acres of 
grassland. All land cover types affected would be restored within 1 
year of impact. No direct effects on aquatic breeding habitat would 
    The applicant proposes to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the effects 
to the Covered Species associated with the Covered Activities by fully 
implementing the plan. The following mitigation measures will be 
implemented for Central CTS as part of the plan: Minimize impact area; 
avoid injury of the covered species during implementation of Covered 
Activities; avoid habitat impacts associated with erosion and 
sedimentation generated by Covered Activities; minimize the risk of 
project-related toxic spills that could adversely affect the covered 
species or its habitat; restore all temporarily disturbed covered 
species' habitat in the Plan Area to pre-project conditions within 1 
year of disturbance; ensure implementation of the avoidance and 
minimization measures; and offset unavoidable permanent habitat impacts 
on the covered species through the

[[Page 1500]]

purchase of approximately 37 acres of credits at a Service and 
California Department of Fish and Game-approved conservation bank, to 
ensure temporary and permanent effects are mitigated.
    Under the proposed action alternative, we would issue an incidental 
take permit for the applicant's proposed project, which includes the 
activities described above and in more detail in the plan.

Environmental Review and Next Steps

    As described in our EA, we have made the preliminary determination 
that approval of the proposed plan and issuance of the permit would 
qualify as FONSI under NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), as provided by 
Federal regulations (40 CFR 1500, 5(k), 1507.3(b)(2), 1508.4) and the 
Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 2 and 516 DM 8). Our EA 
articulates the project effects on all potential resources that could 
be adversely affected, including aesthetics, agricultural resources, 
air quality, climate change, biological resources, cultural resources, 
geology, minerals and paleontological resources, hazardous materials, 
hydrology and water quality, land use and planning, noise, public 
health hazards, recreation, traffic and transportation, and utilities 
and public service systems. It also includes an analysis of 
alternatives, and other required analyses such as unavoidable adverse 
effects, irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources, 
short-term uses versus long-term productivity and cumulative effects, 
and the environmentally preferable alternative (the proposed project).

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 particularly seek comments on the following:
    1. Biological information concerning the species;
    2. Relevant data concerning the species;
    3. Additional information concerning the range, distribution, 
population size, and population trends of the species;
    4. Current or planned activities in the subject area and their 
possible impacts on the species;
    5. The presence of archeological sites, buildings and structures, 
historic events, sacred and traditional areas, and other historic 
preservation concerns, which are required to be considered in project 
planning by the National Historic Preservation Act; and
    6. Identification of any other environmental issues that should be 
considered with regard to the proposed development and permit action.
    You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods 
listed in the ADDRESSES section.
    We will identify in the FONSI if we need to prepare further NEPA 
documentation. We will also consider public comments on the draft EA 
when making the final determination on whether to prepare additional 
NEPA documents on the proposed action.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

Availability of Documents

    You may obtain copies of the permit application, plan, and EA from 
the individuals in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Copies of these 
documents are available for public inspection, by appointment, during 
regular business hours, at the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see 


    We provide this notice pursuant to section 10(c) of the Act and the 
NEPA public-involvement regulations (40 CFR 1500.1(b), 1500.2(d), and 
1506.6). We will evaluate the permit application, including the plan 
and comments we receive, to determine whether the application meets the 
requirements of section 10(a) of the Act. If the requirements are met, 
we will issue a permit to the applicant for the incidental take of the 
Central California Distinct Population Segment of the California tiger 
salamander from the implementation of the Covered Activities described 
in the plan. We will make the final permit decision no sooner than 30 
days after the date of this notice.

Alexandra Pitts,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 2012-288 Filed 1-9-12; 8:45 am]