Press Release
Draft Pelicans Jaw Hybrid Solar Project Categorical Exclusion and Habitat Conservation Plan Available for Public Review
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the availability of a draft Categorical Exclusion and draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Pelicans Jaw Hybrid Solar Project in Kern County, California.

The draft HCP, prepared by Pelicans Jaw Solar, LLC, proposes to construct, operate, maintain, and decommission a 500-MW photovoltaic (PV) solar project located on 3,262 acres of privately-owned grassland. Approximately 2,975 acres of the project site would be developed with facilities to generate and store solar energy. The draft HCP also proposes to conserve 3,993 acres of high-quality grassland habitat. If finalized, the permit would extend over a 39-year term.

Using the best available science, the Service reviewed the draft HCP and analyzed the potential impacts of the project’s activities on the endangered San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica), blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila) and Kern mallow (Eremalche parryi ssp. kernensis), as well as the proposed threatened western spadefoot (Spea hammondii) and unlisted burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia). San Joaquin kit foxes, burrowing owls and Kern mallow have been observed in the project footprint. There are no recently recorded sightings of blunt-nosed leopard lizards or western spadefoots in the area. The draft HCP includes strategies to avoid, minimize and offset impacts of the proposed activities on these species such as minimizing activity around active dens and nests, preserving on-site wetlands, and conducting surveys before construction begins. To mitigate for the project’s impact on these species, the draft HCP proposes to permanently conserve 3,993 acres of privately-owned grassland habitat within the Kern River watershed. This preserved land will provide connectivity via wildlife corridors between the Carrizo Plain and the San Joaquin Valley. 
“As America develops its renewable energy infrastructure, habitat conservation plans can be used to reduce the impacts of project construction and operation on species protected by the Endangered Species Act,” said Michael Fris, field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “By conserving habitat and conducting construction activities in a way that considers the needs of listed and at-risk species, our partners can contribute to their recovery.”

The draft HCP was prepared by Pelicans Jaw Solar, LLC, to support its application for an incidental take permit. HCPs are voluntary agreements that ensure the effects of non-federal activities on threatened and endangered species are adequately minimized or mitigated, per Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act.

The documents are available for public inspection in the Federal Register today and will publish tomorrow, July 10, 2024. The publication will open a 30-day public comment period. The Service will consider comments from all interested parties received by August 9, 2024. The draft documents and information on how to submit comments will be available tomorrow on by searching under docket number FWS-R8-ES-2024-0076.   

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