US Fish and Wildlife seeks public input on location of wind energy facilities to protect endangered species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is leading development of a Habitat Conservation Plan for the Midwest that will conserve endangered species and promote development of clean energy which in turn will reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. 

And, the service is seeking public input from people in Minnesota and seven other states that are involved in development of the plan for locating wind energy facilities. 

While it is well known that some species of bats are particularly vulnerable to striking turbines at wind energy facilities, the purpose of the plan is to develop conservation measures such as locating turbines or facilities, minimizing adverse effects from construction and operations, and mitigating adverse impacts through the development of a strategic strategy for the long-term conservation of species. 

The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to “take” – harm, harass or kill – animals on the Endangered Species List. Therefore a permit is needed if take is expected to happen accidentally.  The proposed plan is required to obtain an incidental take permit for participating wind energy facilities in the Midwest.

Partners in the development of this plan are eight Midwestern states,, the American Wind Energy Association, and The Conservation Fund.  The Service is asking the public to help identify issues that are important to them as the plan is developed.  The incidental take permits will cover participating wind energy facilities in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The specific lands that will be included in the plan have yet to be determined and could be all or portions of the eight states.  Federally endangered species that could potentially be taken by wind energy facilities include the Indiana bat, gray bat, piping plover, interior least tern and Kirtland’s warbler.  This plan can also include species that may become endangered or threatened in the future, such as the little brown bat, northern long-eared bat and eastern small-footed bat.  The bald eagle, which is no longer endangered but remains protected, may also be covered by the plan.  The final list of species to be included has yet to be determined. 

The Service is requesting information and comment concerning the planning process, permitting approach, the interaction of wind facilities and species, scientific data that may help inform the plan or monitoring of impacts, and any other information that interested parties would like to offer.  Comments may be mailed to: Regional Director, Attn: Rick Amidon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437-1458; faxed to:  612/713-5292 (Attn: Rick Amidon); or E-mailed to: midwestwindhcp@fws.gov.   Deadline for receiving comments is October 1.

More information on habitat conservation plans and endangered wildlife can be found at www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered,   

Information about the role that the Service plays in wind energy development and the impacts of wind energy development on wildlife can be found at www.fws.gov/midwest/wind