Indiana bat, wind project collide
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced the availability of a draft environmental impact statement and receipt of an application for an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act. The HCP was developed by Buckeye Wind LLC for its proposed wind power project in Champaign County, Ohio.
The Service is accepting comments on the draft impact statement through Sept. 27.
Buckeye Wind developed the impact statement because the federally endangered Indiana bat occurs in the project area. Construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of the project may result in incidental take of Indiana bats, the USFWS says.
The habitat conservation plan includes measures to minimize impacts and ensure long-term conservation of Indiana bats to offset the incidental take resulting from construction and operation of the facility. Take of listed species is prohibited by the Endangered Species Act unless an incidental take permit is issued by the USFWS. Under the ESA, take means harming, harassing or killing endangered or threatened species.
Buckeye Wind’s permit covers the company’s activities that may result in take of Indiana bats during the life of the wind project. The permit addresses conservation needs for the Indiana bat, including measures to avoid and minimize the potential for take; mitigation, such as 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 up to 100 wind turbines and associated facilities for 30 years in eastern Champaign County, Ohio. While approximately 80,501 acres are located within the Buckeye Wind Action Area, a relatively small portion of that land, about 130 acres, will be permanently occupied. The project would include wind turbines, access roads, and other facilities.
The Service is accepting comments on the draft EIS and HCP through Sept. 27. Send written comments via U.S. mail to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Field Office, 4625 Morse Road, Suite 104, Columbus, OH 43230, or be electronic mail to EverPowerHCP@fws.gov
A public meeting will be held on July 12, 2012, from 4 pm to 8 pm at the Champaign County Community Center Auditorium, 1512 S. U.S. Highway 68, Urbana, OH 43078.
If you have any concerns at all about this project, I urge you to attend this public meeting and comment on the wind project proposal. The Indiana bat might not seem all that important, but it's good that the USFWS is still considering the species when looking at this project.