The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says in a notice to be published in the June 20 Federal Register that it has received an application from Wildcat Wind Farm I LLC for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 for the company’s existing Wildcat Wind Farm in Indiana.
If approved, the ITP would be for a 28-year period and would authorize the incidental take of an endangered species, the Indiana bat, and a threatened species, the northern long-eared bat. The applicant has prepared a draft habitat conservation plan (HCP) that describes the actions and measures that the company would implement to avoid, minimize, and mitigate incidental take of the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat. The ITP application also includes a draft implementing agreement (IA).
Fish and Wildlife will also announce the availability of a draft Environmental Assessment (DEA), which has been prepared in response to the permit application in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It will take comment on it for 45 days after June 20.
The wind farm is located in an approximately 24,434-acre area in Madison and Tipton counties, Indiana. The application is unusual in that the wind facility has been operational since 2012. The project includes 125 General Electric 1.6-MW wind turbines and has a total energy capacity of 200 MW. The need for the proposed action (i.e., issuance of an ITP) is based on the potential that operation of the Wildcat Wind Farm could result in take of Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats.
The HCP provides a detailed conservation plan to ensure that the incidental take caused by the operation of the project will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival and recovery of the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat, and provides mitigation to fully offset the impact of the taking. Further, the HCP provides a long-term monitoring and adaptive management strategy to ensure that the ITP terms are satisfied, and to account for changed and unforeseen circumstances.