[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 188 (Friday, September 27, 2013)]
[Pages 59710-59711]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-23732]

[[Page 59710]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R8-MB-2013-N138; FXMB12320100000P2-123-FF01M01000]

Golden Eagles; Programmatic Take Permit Application; Draft 
Environmental Assessment; Shiloh IV Wind Project, Solano County, 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comment.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the availably of 
a draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) under the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) for the issuance of a take permit for golden eagles 
pursuant to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act), in 
association with the operation of the Shiloh IV Wind Project in Solano 
County, California. The DEA was prepared in response to an application 
from Shiloh IV Wind Project, LLC (applicant), an affiliate of EDF 
Renewable Development, Incorporated, for a 5-year programmatic take 
permit for golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) under the Eagle Act. The 
applicant would implement a conservation program to avoid, minimize, 
and compensate for the project's impacts to eagles, as described in the 
applicant's Eagle Conservation Plan (ECP). We invite public comment on 
the DEA, which evaluates alternatives for this permit.

DATES: To ensure consideration, written comments must be received on or 
before November 12, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining Documents: You may download copies of the DEA on 
the Internet at: http://www.fws.gov/cno/conservation/migratorybirds.html. Alternatively, you may use one of the methods 
below to request a CD-ROM of the document.
    Submitting Comments: You may submit comments or requests for copies 
or more information by one of the following methods.
     Email: ShilohIV_comments@fws.gov.
     U.S. Mail: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird Program, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Regional Office, 2800 
Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825.
     Fax: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird Program, 916-414-6486, 
Attn: Shiloh IV Wind Project DEA Comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird 
Program, at the address shown above or at (916) 414-6651 (telephone).



    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering an application 
under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668a-d; Eagle 
Act) for a programmatic golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) take permit 
from the Shiloh IV Wind Project LLC, (applicant) an affiliate of EDF 
Renewable Development, Incorporated, for a 5-year programmatic take 
permit for golden eagles. The Shiloh IV Wind Project is an existing, 
operational wind facility in the Montezuma Hills Wind Resource Area 
(WRA) within Solano County, California. The application includes an 
Eagle Conservation Plan (ECP) as the foundation of the applicant's 
permit application, as well as a Bird and Bat Conservation Strategy 
(BBCS). The ECP and BBCS describe actions taken and proposed future 
actions to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse effects on eagles, 
birds, and bats.
    We have prepared this DEA to evaluate the impacts of several 
alternatives associated with this permit application for compliance 
with our Eagle Act permitting regulations in the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) at 50 CFR 22.26, as well as impacts of implementation 
of the supporting ECP, which is included as an appendix to the DEA.


    The Eagle Act allows us to authorize bald eagle and golden eagle 
programmatic take (take that is recurring, is not caused solely by 
indirect effects, and that occurs over the long term or in a location 
or locations that cannot be specifically identified). Such take must be 
incidental to actions that are otherwise lawful. The Eagle Act's 
implementing regulations define ``take'' as to ``pursue, shoot, shoot 
at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, destroy, molest, or 
disturb'' individuals, their nests and eggs (50 CFR 22.3); and 
``disturb'' is further defined as ``to agitate or bother a bald or 
golden eagle to a degree that causes . . . (1) injury to an eagle, . . 
. (2) a decrease in its productivity, . . . or (3) nest abandonment'' 
(50 CFR 22.3). The Shiloh IV Wind Project will result in recurring 
eagle mortalities over the life of the project, so the appropriate type 
of take permit is the programmatic permit under 50 CFR 22.26.
    We may consider issuance of programmatic eagle take permits if: (1) 
The incidental take is necessary to protect legitimate interests; (2) 
the take is compatible with the preservation standard of the Eagle 
Act--providing for stable or increasing breeding populations; (3) the 
take has been avoided and minimized to the degree achievable though 
implementation of Advanced Compensation Practices (ACPs), and the 
remaining take is unavoidable; and (4) compensatory mitigation will be 
provided for any remaining take. The Service must determine that the 
direct and indirect effects of the take and required mitigation, 
together with the cumulative effects of other permitted take and 
additional factors affecting eagle populations, are compatible with the 
preservation of bald eagles and golden eagles.

Applicant's Proposal

    The permit applicant, Shiloh IV, is operating a 100-megawatt (MW) 
commercial wind-energy facility, consisting of 50 wind turbines, each 
with a 2-MW generation capacity, in the Montezuma Hills WRA of Solano 
County, California. This project was constructed adjacent to other 
existing wind-energy-producing facilities. The recently constructed 
(December 2012) Shiloh IV Wind Project was a repowering and infill 
project entailing the decommissioning and removal of approximately 230 
Kennetech wind turbines originally constructed in the late 1980s.
    The applicant submitted an ECP on August 3, 2012 that was developed 
following recommendations provided by the Service and consistent with 
our January 2011 Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance (http://www.fws.gov/windenergy/docs/ECP_draft_guidance_2_10_final_clean_omb.pdf). As recommended in the Service's draft guidance, the 
applicant's plan outlines avoidance and minimization measures, contains 
a risk assessment, includes experimental advanced conservation 
practices, and adaptive management. The applicant submitted the ECP as 
part of the permit application, and if we issue the permit following 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, then the 
conservation commitments would become conditions of the permit.
    The Service independently evaluated the risk of eagle fatalities 
from project operations and compared that risk to the conservation 
measures to which the applicant has committed. This is an essential 
step in the Service's evaluation of an application for a permit for 
programmatic take of eagles because issuing criteria require permitted 
take to comply with the Eagle Acts's preservation standard. The Service 

[[Page 59711]]

interpreted this standard to require maintenance of stable or 
increasing breeding populations of eagles (74 FR 46836; September 11, 
2009). We evaluate the risk and offsetting conservation measures, and 
the implications for direct, indirect, and cumulative effects under 
four alternatives in the DEA.

Next Steps

    The public process for the proposed Federal permit action will be 
completed after the public comment period, at which time we will 
evaluate the permit application and comments submitted thereupon to 
determine whether the application meets the permitting requirements 
under the Eagle Act, applicable regulations, and NEPA requirements. 
Upon completion of that evaluation, we will select our course of 
action. We will make the final permit decision no sooner than 30 days 
after the close of the public comment period.

Public Comments

    We invite public comment on the proposed DEA. If you wish, you may 
submit comments by any one of the methods discussed above under 

Public Availability of Comments

    We will consider public comments on the DEA when making the final 
determination on NEPA compliance and permit issuance. 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.


    We provide this notice under Section 668a of the Eagle Act (16 
U.S.C. 668-668c) and NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6).

    Dated: September 24, 2013.
Alexandra Pitts,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest, Sacramento, California.
[FR Doc. 2013-23732 Filed 9-26-13; 8:45 am]