The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the availability of the final environmental impact statement, final habitat conservation plan, final implementing agreement, draft programmatic agreement, and the receipt of an application for an incidental take permit under section 10 of the Endangered Species Act. The documents are available for review through May 20.
The habitat conservation plan was developed by Buckeye Wind, LLC for their proposed wind power project in Champaign County, Ohio. Buckeye Wind developed the plan because the federally endangered Indiana bat occurs in the project area. Construction, operation, maintenance, and/or decommissioning of the project may result in incidental take of Indiana bats.
The habitat conservation plan includes measures to minimize impacts and ensure long-term conservation of Indiana bats through off-site mitigation which will offset the incidental take resulting from construction and operation of the facility. Under the Endangered Species Act, take means harming, harassing or killing endangered or threatened species.
In its final environmental impact statement, the Service evaluated the possible effects of implementing Buckeye Wind’s habitat conservation plan and granting an incidental take permit to Buckeye Wind. Among the alternatives evaluated by the service are issuing a permit for 30 years with modified turbine operations, as described in the Buckeye Wind habitat conservation plan; a “no-action” alternative, under which no permit would be issued and the project would not be built; an alternative with minimal operational restrictions and the habitat conservation plan; and an alternative with maximum operational restrictions, but without a habitat conservation plan.
Buckeye Wind’s habitat conservation plan covers the company’s activities that may result in take of Indiana bats during the life of the wind project. The plan addresses conservation needs for the Indiana bat including measures to avoid and minimize the potential for take; mitigation, including protecting and enhancing existing habitat; monitoring take through post-construction mortality studies; adaptive management; and funding of research to better understand Indiana bat and wind turbine interactions.
Buckeye Wind proposes to construct and operate a maximum of 100 wind turbines and associated facilities for a period of 30 years in eastern Champaign County, Ohio. While approximately 80,051 total acres are located within the Buckeye Wind Action Area, a relatively small portion of that land, about 130 acres, will be permanently occupied by project facilities. The project would include wind turbines, access roads, and other facilities.
A draft programmatic agreement has been developed to address consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulations, “Protection of Historic Properties.” The draft programmatic agreement among the Service, Buckeye Wind, and the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office describes the process for conducting the remaining archaeological surveys, evaluating the results of the surveys, and determining if resources can be avoided or if additional surveys or mitigation are necessary before the Section 106 process is completed.
The documents are available for review through May 20. The documents are available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov (Docket Number FWS-R3-ES-2012-0036); or at www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/permits/hcp/r3hcps.html.
Comments should be submitted by one of the following methods:
• Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R3-ES-2012-0036, which is the docket number for this notice. Then, on the left side of the screen, under the document type heading, click on the notices link to locate this document and submit a comment.
• By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R3-ES-2012-0036; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
The Service’s decision on issuance of the permit will occur no sooner than 30 days after the publication of the Final EIS in the Federal Register and will be documented in a Record of Decision.
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.
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