U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Sacramento Fish & Wildlife OfficeServing the people, conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of California

A Unit Of The Pacific Southwest Region

News Release

Maricopa Sun Solar Complex in Kern County to be Issued Endangered Species Permit

December 08, 2014

Media Contact:
Sarah Swenty, (530)665-3310, sarah_swenty@fws.gov

Sacramento – The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced the availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the issuance of incidental take permit (ITP) associated with the Maricopa Sun Solar Complex Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for their proposed solar energy facility in Kern County.

The permit covers impacts to at-risk species associated with construction, operation, and decommissioning of a 700-megawatt solar facility. The permit also covers the HCP conservation actions for the project site that covers 5,784.3 acres in southwest Kern County, California. The project is made up of multiple parcels and located approximately six to 20 miles east of Taft along South Lake Road and along Copus Road.

Under the Endangered Species Act, private landowners, like Maricopa Sun, may apply for a permit to take federally protected species while conducting otherwise legal activities on their land. To obtain an ITP, the applicant must develop an HCP that details actions to minimize impacts and specifies measures to offset the impacts of the proposed development.

The ITP requested by Maricopa Sun, LLC from the Service will cover three federally listed species: Blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila), Tipton kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), and San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica). The following two federally non-listed species are also included: Western Burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) and Nelson’s antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus nelsoni). These five species are collectively referred to as Covered Species.

In addition to including avoidance and minimization measures to reduce impacts, the HCP’s conservation strategy compensates for unavoidable effects to Covered Species and their habitat. Existing Covered Species habitat totaling 1,894.4 acres will be permanently conserved and conservation easements will be placed on 3,798.2 acres of proposed solar site development land. These conservation easements will allow solar development, operation and decommissioning during the 35-year term of the HCP followed by management of these sites in perpetuity for the benefit of the Covered Species. The HCP will result in the permanent conservation of a total of 5,692.6 acres of Covered Species habitat. The issuance of an ITP may not occur until after public review of the FEIS and formal acceptance of the HCP and at least 30 days following today's published date.

To request further information, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request is in reference to the Maricopa Sun Solar Complex Habitat Conservation Plan.

  • U.S. Mail: 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825-1846.
  • In-Person Drop-off, Viewing, or Pickup: Call (916) 414-6600 to make an appointment during regular business hours to drop off comments or view received comments at the above location.
  • Fax: Justin Sloan or Mike Thomas, (916) 414-6713, Attn.: Maricopa Sun Solar Complex Habitat Conservation Plan.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/cno. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.

Last updated: December 1, 2017