Early Scoping for an Anticipated Application for Incidental Take Permit and Draft Habitat Conservation Plan; Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC, 23567-23570 [2015-09806]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 81 / Tuesday, April 28, 2015 / Notices (1) Provide More Transportation Choices. (2) Promote equitable, affordable housing. (3) Enhance Economic Competitiveness. (4) Support Existing Communities. (5) Coordinate Policies and Leverage Investment. Frequency of responses Number of respondents Number of responses (6) Value Communities and Neighborhoods. Respondents 11,000. Estimated average time (seconds) Estimated annual burden 6,540 ...................................................... 60 new applicants .................................. 4,630 ...................................................... 40 new applicants .................................. 1 (60%) 1 1 (40%) 1 6540 60 4360 40 60 60 60 60 Total ................................................ .............................. 11,000 .............................. B. Solicitation of Public Comment ACTION: This notice is soliciting comments from members of the public and affected parties concerning the collection of information described in Section A on the following: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) The accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond; including through the use of appropriate automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. HUD encourages interested parties to submit comment in response to these questions. Authority: Section 3507 of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35. Dated: April 21, 2015. Julie D. Hopkins, Director, Grants Management and Oversight Division. [FR Doc. 2015–09770 Filed 4–27–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–67–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R5–ES–2014–0050; FXES11120500000–156–FF05E00000] Early Scoping for an Anticipated Application for Incidental Take Permit and Draft Habitat Conservation Plan; Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:18 Apr 27, 2015 Jkt 235001 Notice of initiation of scoping. Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce our intent to prepare a NEPA document for an anticipated Incidental Take Permit (ITP) application and associated draft habitat conservation plan (HCP) from Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC for construction and operation of a wind energy facility on private lands that provide potential habitat for the northern long-eared bat and the federally listed endangered Indiana bat. The northern long-eared bat has recently been proposed for listing as an endangered species under the ESA. Construction activities (e.g., tree clearing) and operation of wind turbines on these lands have the potential to incidentally take Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats. Therefore, Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC is developing an ITP application and HCP to address these activities. In advance of receiving the ITP application for this project, the Service is providing this notice to request information from other agencies, Tribes, and the public on the scope of the NEPA review and issues to consider in the NEPA analysis and in development of the HCP. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before May 28, 2015. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date. ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by one of the following methods: • Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web site at: http:// www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS–R5–ES–2014–0050, which is the docket number for this notice. Click SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 23567 6540 = 109 minutes. 60 seconds = 1 minute. 4360 = 73 hours. 67 seconds = 1 minute 7 seconds. 183 hours. on the appropriate 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–R5–ES–2014– 0050, Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. We request that you send comments by only the methods above. We will post all information received on the Web site at http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section below for more information). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robyn A. Niver, by mail at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 3817 Luker Road, Cortland, NY 13045, or by telephone at 607–753–9334. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We announce our intent to prepare a NEPA document for a pending ITP application and associated draft HCP from Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC for construction and operation of a wind energy facility on approximately 11,250 acres of leased private lands in Lewis and Jefferson Counties, New York. A map depicting the proposed project on the landscape can be viewed on the Service’s New York Field Office Web page, at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/ nyfo/es/ibat.htm. Dominated by active agricultural fields, along with substantial blocks of forested lands and lesser amounts of successional and disturbed communities, these lands provide potential foraging, roosting, maternity colony, and fall swarming habitat for all or many bat species that occur in the State of New York, including the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) and the federally listed endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). Both construction (e.g., tree clearing) and operation of wind turbines have the potential to incidentally take northern long-eared E:\FR\FM\28APN1.SGM 28APN1 23568 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 81 / Tuesday, April 28, 2015 / Notices bats and Indiana bats. Therefore, Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC is developing an ITP application and HCP to address these activities. In advance of receiving the ITP application for this project, the Service is providing this notice to request information from other agencies, Tribes, and the public on the scope of the NEPA review and issues to consider in the NEPA analysis and in development of the HCP. We will proceed with preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA), which we will use to evaluate, in conjunction with the public comments, whether any significant impacts would require further analysis in an Environmental Impact Statement. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Request for Information We request data, comments, information, and suggestions from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this notice. We will consider all comments we receive in complying with the requirements of NEPA and in the development of the HCP and ITP. We seek comments particularly related to: (1) Information concerning the range, distribution, population size, and population trends of Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats in New York State; (2) Additional biological information concerning Indiana bats, northern longeared bats, and other federally listed species that occur in New York State that could be affected by proposed covered activities; (3) Relevant data and information concerning myotid bat interactions with wind turbine construction and operation; (4) Current or planned activities in the project planning area and their possible impacts on Indiana bats, northern longeared bats, and other federally listed species in New York State; (5) The presence of facilities within the project planning area that are eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or whether other historical, archeological, or traditional cultural properties may be present; (6) Any other issues relating to the human environment and potential impacts that we should consider with regard to the project planning area, covered activities, and potential ITP issuance. You may submit your comments and materials concerning this notice by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:18 Apr 27, 2015 Jkt 235001 Background The Indiana bat is listed as an endangered species under the ESA. The population decline of this species has historically been attributed to habitat loss and degradation of both winter hibernation habitat (hibernacula) and summer roosting habitat, human disturbance during hibernation, and possibly pesticides. A recent new threat to Indiana bats is white-nose syndrome (WNS), a disease caused by a fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans, previously classified as Geomyces destructans) that invades the skin of bats. The fungus erodes wing tissue and alters behaviors such as hibernation location and arousal patterns, which decreases fat stores essential for overwinter survival. Millions of bats are estimated to have died as a result. White-nose syndrome is resulting in large population declines in some parts of the species’ range, including the northeastern and southeastern United States. The range of the Indiana bat includes much of the eastern United States, including New York. Winter habitat for the Indiana bat includes caves and mines that support high humidity and cool, but stable, temperatures. In the summer, Indiana bats roost in trees (dead, dying, or live trees) with exfoliating bark, cracks, crevices, and/or hollows. During summer, males roost alone or in small groups, while females and their offspring roost in larger groups. Indiana bats forage for insects in and along the edges of forested areas and wooded stream corridors. The northern long-eared bat has recently been proposed for listing as an endangered species under the ESA. White-nose syndrome is the predominant threat to the species, though other threats may include impacts to hibernacula and summer habitat, and disturbance of hibernating bats. Northern long-eared bats have been abundant in the eastern United States and are often captured in summer mist nets surveys and detected during acoustic surveys. Northern long-eared bats are known to frequent forested habitats throughout New York. Similar to Indiana bats, northern long-eared bats generally hibernate in caves and mines during the winter. During the summer, the bats roost in live trees and snags, though they are also known to use human-made structures such as barns, sheds, and bat boxes. Potential Federal Action The proposed Federal action that will be analyzed through NEPA will be the potential issuance of an ITP to allow PO 00000 Frm 00073 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 incidental take of Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats from the construction and operation of the wind energy facility, including specific activities that will be described in the HCP. The HCP will incorporate avoidance, minimization, mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures aimed at addressing the impact of the covered activities to Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats. The project planning area for the HCP is the 11,250 acres of private lands under lease agreement with Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC for construction and operation of a wind energy facility. The project consists of two phases, which will deliver up to 79.9 and 24.9 megawatts (MW) respectively of electrical power to the New York State electric grid. Phase I Phase I consists of a 6,605-acre generation site and a 2,595-acre transmission site. The generation site will include 47 wind turbines, approximately 15.2 miles of access roads, 20.3 miles of 34.5-kV electrical collector lines, a collection substation, 3 meteorological towers, a construction staging area, and an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) facility, located in the Town of Denmark in Lewis County, New York. The transmission site will include approximately 8.8 miles of overhead 115-kV electric transmission line, to be located in the Towns of Champion and Rutland, in Jefferson County, New York, and a Point of Interconnect (POI) substation, to be located adjacent to the existing National Grid Black River-Lighthouse Hill 115-kV transmission line in the Town of Rutland, Jefferson County, New York. Phase I construction is anticipated to begin with tree-clearing activities over the winter of 2015–2016, with access road and other construction commencing in the spring of 2016. Construction of Phase I is expected to be completed by December 2016. Phase II Phase II consists of up to 15 additional turbines, along with approximately 5.5 miles of access roads and 11 miles of collector lines, to be located on approximately 2,050 acres of leased private lands. The 34.5-kV electrical collector lines will gather the electricity from the turbines in the Town of Pinckney and deliver it to the collection substation in the Town of Denmark (to be constructed as part of Phase I). The turbines, access roads, and approximately 5.4 miles of the electrical collector lines will be located in the Town of Pinckney, Lewis County, New E:\FR\FM\28APN1.SGM 28APN1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 81 / Tuesday, April 28, 2015 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES York. The remaining 5.6 miles of electrical collector lines will be located in the Town of Denmark, generally in close proximity to infrastructure associated with Phase I of the Project. Phase II construction is anticipated to begin with tree-clearing activities over the winter of 2016–2017, with access road and other construction commencing in the spring of 2017. Construction of Phase II is expected to be completed by December 2017. The HCP is expected to address both construction and operational activities associated with the wind energy facility. The covered construction activities in the HCP are anticipated to be as follows: Preconstruction activities (e.g., geotechnical boring, installation of sedimentation and erosion control measures, field demarcation of previously identified sensitive resources), staging area construction, site preparation (e.g., clearing woody vegetation from work areas), public road improvement, access road construction, turbine foundation construction, electrical collector system installation, wind turbine assembly and erection, transmission line and POI substation construction, O&M facility construction, and turbine commissioning. The covered operational activities in the HCP are anticipated to be as follows: Operation of turbines and associated electrical collection and transmission equipment, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, and environmental management. Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC anticipates that the activities posing the greatest risk of incidental take of Indiana bats or northern longeared bats are (1) tree clearing during construction, and (2) collisions with operating turbines. They do not anticipate construction or operation of the wind energy facility will result in incidental take of any other federally listed species in the planning area. Potential minimization and mitigation measures may include removal of suitable roost trees during winter, operating turbines during periods of less bat activity, protection and enhancement of hibernacula, and protection and enhancement of Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat roosting and foraging habitat. The proposed duration of the ITP is 30 years. NEPA Alternatives The Service has not yet developed any NEPA alternatives to the proposed Federal action (i.e., issuance of an ITP conditioned on implementation of the HCP). The NEPA analysis will assess the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of the proposed Federal action on the human environment, comprehensively VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:18 Apr 27, 2015 Jkt 235001 interpreted to include the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment. It will also analyze several alternatives to the proposed Federal action, including no action and other reasonable courses of action (potentially including minimization and mitigation measures not considered in the proposed action). Relevant information provided in response to this notice will aid in developing the draft HCP and the NEPA analysis. Prior Public Outreach Phase I of the project has already undergone public review as part of the local permitting process, pursuant to the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and its implementing regulations, 6 NYCRR Part 617. This process was initiated on May 5, 2012, when Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC submitted to the Town of Denmark Planning Board a full Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) and an application for a special use permit. On July 7, 2012, the Town of Denmark Planning Board forwarded a solicitation of Lead Agency status, along with a copy of the EAF document, to potentially interested/involved SEQRA agencies. No agency objected to the Town of Denmark Planning Board assuming the role of Lead Agency. The Town of Denmark, as Lead Agency, subsequently issued a Positive Declaration on August 7, 2012, requiring the applicant to prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The DEIS was accepted as complete on June 4, 2013, and copies of the DEIS were subsequently delivered to involved/interested agencies, and posted to a Web site managed by OwnEnergy (http://www.ownenergy.net/ project-development/our-projects/ copenhagen-wind-farm). Opportunities for detailed agency and public review were provided during the DEIS public comment period (June 4, 2013, through August 13, 2013), including a public hearing conducted by the Lead Agency on July 9, 2013, at the Copenhagen Central School gymnasium (3020 Mechanic Street, Copenhagen, NY). Eleven separate ‘‘comment letters’’ (hardcopy, email, and oral comments) were received, which provided 158 individual comments that were considered during the FEIS analysis. The comments covered a wide range of topics addressed in the DEIS. The most commonly raised questions and concerns pertained to biological resources and water resources, particularly with regard to potential impacts to birds, bats, and groundwater. PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 23569 A responsiveness summary to address all substantive comments received on the DEIS during the public comment period was included as Section 4.0 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The FEIS was accepted as complete by the Lead Agency on July 10, 2014, and is also available at the Project Web site (http:// www.ownenergy.net/projectdevelopment/our-projects/copenhagenwind-farm). The Lead Agency issued its Findings Statement on August 19, 2014. This document provides the rationale for the Planning Board’s decision to approve issuance of the pending permit applications, and includes discussion of mitigating measures that will be incorporated as conditions of the pending permits and approvals to avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts. Public review of Phase II of the Project has not yet been initiated. However, it is anticipated that the same local permitting process used for Phase I will be followed for Phase II (i.e., EAF, DEIS, Public Comment Period, FEIS). Next Steps In this stage of the project, we are seeking information to aid in development of the NEPA analysis and the draft HCP, and to inform what level of environmental analysis would be necessary for project implementation. We will then develop a draft NEPA document based on the ITP application, Applicant’s draft HCP, any associated documents, and public comments received through this early scoping effort. We may solicit additional public, agency, and Tribal input to identify the nature and scope of the environmental issues that should be addressed during NEPA review, following appropriate public notice. We will then publish a notice of availability for the draft NEPA document and draft HCP and seek additional public comment before completing our final analysis to determine whether to issue an ITP. Public Comments During this 30-day public comment period (see DATES), the Service invites the public to provide comments that will aid our NEPA analysis. You may submit comments by one of the methods shown under ADDRESSES. Public Availability of Comments We will post all public comments and information received electronically or via hardcopy on http://regulations.gov. All comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of the administrative record and will be available to the public. Before including E:\FR\FM\28APN1.SGM 28APN1 23570 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 81 / Tuesday, April 28, 2015 / Notices your address, phone number, electronic mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—will be publicly available. If you submit a hardcopy comment that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Authority This notice is provided pursuant to NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.7 and 1508.22). Dated: March 10, 2015. Paul R. Phifer, Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Northeast Region. [FR Doc. 2015–09806 Filed 4–27–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs [156A2100DD/AAKC001030/ A0A501010.999900 253G] Renewal of Agency Information Collection for Law and Order on Indian Reservations—Marriage and Dissolution Applications Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior. ACTION: Notice of submission to OMB. AGENCY: In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is submitting to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a request for approval for the collection of information for the Law and Order on Indian Reservations—Marriage & Dissolution Applications, which concerns marriage and dissolution of a marriage in a Court of Indian Offenses. The information collection is currently authorized by OMB Control Number 1076–0094, which expires April 30, 2015. SUMMARY: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 28, 2015. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the information collection to the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at the Office of Management and Budget, by facsimile to (202) 395–5806 or you may send an email to: OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov. Please send a copy of your comments to: Katherine Scotta, Office of Justice asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES DATES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:18 Apr 27, 2015 Jkt 235001 Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1849 C Street NW., MS–2603–MIB, Washington, DC 20240; email: Katherine.Scotta@bia.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Katherine Scotta, (202) 208–6711. You may review the information collection request online at http:// www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to review Department of the Interior collections under review by OMB. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is seeking renewal of the approval for the information collection conducted under 25 CFR 11.600(c) and 11.606(c). This information collection allows the Clerk of the Court of Indian Offenses to collect personal information necessary for a Court of Indian Offenses to issue a marriage license or dissolve a marriage. Courts of Indian Offenses have been established on certain Indian reservations under the authority vested in the Secretary of the Interior by 5 U.S.C. 301 and 25 U.S.C. 2, 9, and 13, which authorize appropriations for ‘‘Indian judges.’’ The courts provide for the administration of justice for Indian tribes in those areas where the tribes retain jurisdiction over Indians, exclusive of State jurisdiction, but where tribal courts have not been established to exercise that jurisdiction and the tribes has, by resolution or constitutional amendment, chosen to use the Court of Indian Offenses. Accordingly, Courts of Indian Offenses exercise jurisdiction under 25 CFR 11. Domestic relations are governed by 25 CFR 11.600, which authorizes the Court of Indian Offenses to conduct and dissolve marriages. In order to obtain a marriage licenses in a Court of Indian Offenses, applicants must provide the six items of information listed in 25 CFR 11.600(c), including identifying information, such a Social Security number, information on previous marriage, relationship to the other applicant, and a certificate of the results of any medical examination required by applicable tribal ordinances or the laws of the State in which the Indian country under the jurisdiction of the Court of Indian Offenses is located. To dissolve a marriage, applicants must provide the six items of information listed in 25 CFR 11.606(c), including information on occupation and residency (to establish jurisdiction), information on whether the parties have lives apart for at least 180 days or if there is serious marital discord warranting dissolution, and information on the children of the PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 marriage and whether the wife is pregnant (for the court to determine the appropriate level of support that may be required from the non-custodial parent). (25 CFR 11.601) Two forms are used as part of this information collection, the Marriage License Application and the Dissolution of Marriage Application. II. Request for Comments On February 9, 2015, BIA published a notice announcing the renewal of this information collection and provided a 60-day comment period in the Federal Register (80 FR 7029). There were no comments received in response to this notice. The BIA requests your comments on this collection concerning: (a) The necessity of this information collection for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) The accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden (hours and cost) of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) Ways we could enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) Ways we could minimize the burden of the collection of the information on the respondents. Please note that an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and an individual need not respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid OMB Control Number. It is our policy to make all comments available to the public for review at the location listed in the ADDRESSES section. Before including your address, phone number, email address or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. III. Data OMB Control Number: 1076–0094. Title: Law and Order on Indian Reservations—Marriage & Dissolution Applications, 25 CFR 11. Brief Description of Collection: Submission of this information allows applicants to obtain a benefit, namely, the issuance of a marriage license or a decree of dissolution of a marriage license from the Court of Indian Offenses. Type of Review: Extension of currently approved collection. Respondents: Individuals. E:\FR\FM\28APN1.SGM 28APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 81 (Tuesday, April 28, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 23567-23570]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-09806]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R5-ES-2014-0050; FXES11120500000-156-FF05E00000]


Early Scoping for an Anticipated Application for Incidental Take 
Permit and Draft Habitat Conservation Plan; Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of initiation of scoping.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), announce our intent to prepare a NEPA document for an 
anticipated Incidental Take Permit (ITP) application and associated 
draft habitat conservation plan (HCP) from Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC 
for construction and operation of a wind energy facility on private 
lands that provide potential habitat for the northern long-eared bat 
and the federally listed endangered Indiana bat. The northern long-
eared bat has recently been proposed for listing as an endangered 
species under the ESA. Construction activities (e.g., tree clearing) 
and operation of wind turbines on these lands have the potential to 
incidentally take Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats. Therefore, 
Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC is developing an ITP application and HCP to 
address these activities.
    In advance of receiving the ITP application for this project, the 
Service is providing this notice to request information from other 
agencies, Tribes, and the public on the scope of the NEPA review and 
issues to consider in the NEPA analysis and in development of the HCP.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before May 
28, 2015. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES) must be received by 11:59 p.m. 
Eastern Time on the closing date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments by one of the following 
methods:
     Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web 
site at: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-R5-
ES-2014-0050, which is the docket number for this notice. Click on the 
appropriate 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-R5-ES-2014-0050, Division of 
Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041.
    We request that you send comments by only the methods above. We 
will post all information received on the Web site at http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section 
below for more information).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robyn A. Niver, by mail at U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 3817 Luker Road, Cortland, NY 13045, or by 
telephone at 607-753-9334.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We announce our intent to prepare a NEPA 
document for a pending ITP application and associated draft HCP from 
Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC for construction and operation of a wind 
energy facility on approximately 11,250 acres of leased private lands 
in Lewis and Jefferson Counties, New York. A map depicting the proposed 
project on the landscape can be viewed on the Service's New York Field 
Office Web page, at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/nyfo/es/ibat.htm. 
Dominated by active agricultural fields, along with substantial blocks 
of forested lands and lesser amounts of successional and disturbed 
communities, these lands provide potential foraging, roosting, 
maternity colony, and fall swarming habitat for all or many bat species 
that occur in the State of New York, including the northern long-eared 
bat (Myotis septentrionalis) and the federally listed endangered 
Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). Both construction (e.g., tree clearing) 
and operation of wind turbines have the potential to incidentally take 
northern long-eared

[[Page 23568]]

bats and Indiana bats. Therefore, Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC is 
developing an ITP application and HCP to address these activities.
    In advance of receiving the ITP application for this project, the 
Service is providing this notice to request information from other 
agencies, Tribes, and the public on the scope of the NEPA review and 
issues to consider in the NEPA analysis and in development of the HCP. 
We will proceed with preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA), 
which we will use to evaluate, in conjunction with the public comments, 
whether any significant impacts would require further analysis in an 
Environmental Impact Statement.

Request for Information

    We request data, comments, information, and suggestions from the 
public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, Tribes, industry, or any other interested party on this 
notice. We will consider all comments we receive in complying with the 
requirements of NEPA and in the development of the HCP and ITP.
    We seek comments particularly related to:
    (1) Information concerning the range, distribution, population 
size, and population trends of Indiana bats and northern long-eared 
bats in New York State;
    (2) Additional biological information concerning Indiana bats, 
northern long-eared bats, and other federally listed species that occur 
in New York State that could be affected by proposed covered 
activities;
    (3) Relevant data and information concerning myotid bat 
interactions with wind turbine construction and operation;
    (4) Current or planned activities in the project planning area and 
their possible impacts on Indiana bats, northern long-eared bats, and 
other federally listed species in New York State;
    (5) The presence of facilities within the project planning area 
that are eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic 
Places, or whether other historical, archeological, or traditional 
cultural properties may be present;
    (6) Any other issues relating to the human environment and 
potential impacts that we should consider with regard to the project 
planning area, covered activities, and potential ITP issuance.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this notice 
by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section.

Background

    The Indiana bat is listed as an endangered species under the ESA. 
The population decline of this species has historically been attributed 
to habitat loss and degradation of both winter hibernation habitat 
(hibernacula) and summer roosting habitat, human disturbance during 
hibernation, and possibly pesticides. A recent new threat to Indiana 
bats is white-nose syndrome (WNS), a disease caused by a fungus 
(Pseudogymnoascus destructans, previously classified as Geomyces 
destructans) that invades the skin of bats. The fungus erodes wing 
tissue and alters behaviors such as hibernation location and arousal 
patterns, which decreases fat stores essential for overwinter survival. 
Millions of bats are estimated to have died as a result. White-nose 
syndrome is resulting in large population declines in some parts of the 
species' range, including the northeastern and southeastern United 
States.
    The range of the Indiana bat includes much of the eastern United 
States, including New York. Winter habitat for the Indiana bat includes 
caves and mines that support high humidity and cool, but stable, 
temperatures. In the summer, Indiana bats roost in trees (dead, dying, 
or live trees) with exfoliating bark, cracks, crevices, and/or hollows. 
During summer, males roost alone or in small groups, while females and 
their offspring roost in larger groups. Indiana bats forage for insects 
in and along the edges of forested areas and wooded stream corridors.
    The northern long-eared bat has recently been proposed for listing 
as an endangered species under the ESA. White-nose syndrome is the 
predominant threat to the species, though other threats may include 
impacts to hibernacula and summer habitat, and disturbance of 
hibernating bats. Northern long-eared bats have been abundant in the 
eastern United States and are often captured in summer mist nets 
surveys and detected during acoustic surveys. Northern long-eared bats 
are known to frequent forested habitats throughout New York. Similar to 
Indiana bats, northern long-eared bats generally hibernate in caves and 
mines during the winter. During the summer, the bats roost in live 
trees and snags, though they are also known to use human-made 
structures such as barns, sheds, and bat boxes.

Potential Federal Action

    The proposed Federal action that will be analyzed through NEPA will 
be the potential issuance of an ITP to allow incidental take of Indiana 
bats and northern long-eared bats from the construction and operation 
of the wind energy facility, including specific activities that will be 
described in the HCP. The HCP will incorporate avoidance, minimization, 
mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures aimed at addressing the 
impact of the covered activities to Indiana bats and northern long-
eared bats. The project planning area for the HCP is the 11,250 acres 
of private lands under lease agreement with Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC 
for construction and operation of a wind energy facility. The project 
consists of two phases, which will deliver up to 79.9 and 24.9 
megawatts (MW) respectively of electrical power to the New York State 
electric grid.

Phase I

    Phase I consists of a 6,605-acre generation site and a 2,595-acre 
transmission site. The generation site will include 47 wind turbines, 
approximately 15.2 miles of access roads, 20.3 miles of 34.5-kV 
electrical collector lines, a collection substation, 3 meteorological 
towers, a construction staging area, and an Operations and Maintenance 
(O&M) facility, located in the Town of Denmark in Lewis County, New 
York. The transmission site will include approximately 8.8 miles of 
overhead 115-kV electric transmission line, to be located in the Towns 
of Champion and Rutland, in Jefferson County, New York, and a Point of 
Interconnect (POI) substation, to be located adjacent to the existing 
National Grid Black River-Lighthouse Hill 115-kV transmission line in 
the Town of Rutland, Jefferson County, New York. Phase I construction 
is anticipated to begin with tree-clearing activities over the winter 
of 2015-2016, with access road and other construction commencing in the 
spring of 2016. Construction of Phase I is expected to be completed by 
December 2016.

Phase II

    Phase II consists of up to 15 additional turbines, along with 
approximately 5.5 miles of access roads and 11 miles of collector 
lines, to be located on approximately 2,050 acres of leased private 
lands. The 34.5-kV electrical collector lines will gather the 
electricity from the turbines in the Town of Pinckney and deliver it to 
the collection substation in the Town of Denmark (to be constructed as 
part of Phase I). The turbines, access roads, and approximately 5.4 
miles of the electrical collector lines will be located in the Town of 
Pinckney, Lewis County, New

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York. The remaining 5.6 miles of electrical collector lines will be 
located in the Town of Denmark, generally in close proximity to 
infrastructure associated with Phase I of the Project. Phase II 
construction is anticipated to begin with tree-clearing activities over 
the winter of 2016-2017, with access road and other construction 
commencing in the spring of 2017. Construction of Phase II is expected 
to be completed by December 2017.
    The HCP is expected to address both construction and operational 
activities associated with the wind energy facility. The covered 
construction activities in the HCP are anticipated to be as follows: 
Preconstruction activities (e.g., geotechnical boring, installation of 
sedimentation and erosion control measures, field demarcation of 
previously identified sensitive resources), staging area construction, 
site preparation (e.g., clearing woody vegetation from work areas), 
public road improvement, access road construction, turbine foundation 
construction, electrical collector system installation, wind turbine 
assembly and erection, transmission line and POI substation 
construction, O&M facility construction, and turbine commissioning. The 
covered operational activities in the HCP are anticipated to be as 
follows: Operation of turbines and associated electrical collection and 
transmission equipment, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, and 
environmental management. Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC anticipates that 
the activities posing the greatest risk of incidental take of Indiana 
bats or northern long-eared bats are (1) tree clearing during 
construction, and (2) collisions with operating turbines. They do not 
anticipate construction or operation of the wind energy facility will 
result in incidental take of any other federally listed species in the 
planning area. Potential minimization and mitigation measures may 
include removal of suitable roost trees during winter, operating 
turbines during periods of less bat activity, protection and 
enhancement of hibernacula, and protection and enhancement of Indiana 
bat and northern long-eared bat roosting and foraging habitat. The 
proposed duration of the ITP is 30 years.

NEPA Alternatives

    The Service has not yet developed any NEPA alternatives to the 
proposed Federal action (i.e., issuance of an ITP conditioned on 
implementation of the HCP). The NEPA analysis will assess the direct, 
indirect, and cumulative impacts of the proposed Federal action on the 
human environment, comprehensively interpreted to include the natural 
and physical environment and the relationship of people with that 
environment. It will also analyze several alternatives to the proposed 
Federal action, including no action and other reasonable courses of 
action (potentially including minimization and mitigation measures not 
considered in the proposed action). Relevant information provided in 
response to this notice will aid in developing the draft HCP and the 
NEPA analysis.

Prior Public Outreach

    Phase I of the project has already undergone public review as part 
of the local permitting process, pursuant to the New York State 
Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and its implementing 
regulations, 6 NYCRR Part 617. This process was initiated on May 5, 
2012, when Copenhagen Wind Farm, LLC submitted to the Town of Denmark 
Planning Board a full Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) and an 
application for a special use permit. On July 7, 2012, the Town of 
Denmark Planning Board forwarded a solicitation of Lead Agency status, 
along with a copy of the EAF document, to potentially interested/
involved SEQRA agencies. No agency objected to the Town of Denmark 
Planning Board assuming the role of Lead Agency. The Town of Denmark, 
as Lead Agency, subsequently issued a Positive Declaration on August 7, 
2012, requiring the applicant to prepare a Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement (DEIS).
    The DEIS was accepted as complete on June 4, 2013, and copies of 
the DEIS were subsequently delivered to involved/interested agencies, 
and posted to a Web site managed by OwnEnergy (http://www.ownenergy.net/project-development/our-projects/copenhagen-wind-farm). Opportunities for detailed agency and public review were 
provided during the DEIS public comment period (June 4, 2013, through 
August 13, 2013), including a public hearing conducted by the Lead 
Agency on July 9, 2013, at the Copenhagen Central School gymnasium 
(3020 Mechanic Street, Copenhagen, NY). Eleven separate ``comment 
letters'' (hardcopy, email, and oral comments) were received, which 
provided 158 individual comments that were considered during the FEIS 
analysis. The comments covered a wide range of topics addressed in the 
DEIS. The most commonly raised questions and concerns pertained to 
biological resources and water resources, particularly with regard to 
potential impacts to birds, bats, and groundwater.
    A responsiveness summary to address all substantive comments 
received on the DEIS during the public comment period was included as 
Section 4.0 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The 
FEIS was accepted as complete by the Lead Agency on July 10, 2014, and 
is also available at the Project Web site (http://www.ownenergy.net/project-development/our-projects/copenhagen-wind-farm). The Lead Agency 
issued its Findings Statement on August 19, 2014. This document 
provides the rationale for the Planning Board's decision to approve 
issuance of the pending permit applications, and includes discussion of 
mitigating measures that will be incorporated as conditions of the 
pending permits and approvals to avoid or minimize adverse 
environmental impacts.
    Public review of Phase II of the Project has not yet been 
initiated. However, it is anticipated that the same local permitting 
process used for Phase I will be followed for Phase II (i.e., EAF, 
DEIS, Public Comment Period, FEIS).

Next Steps

    In this stage of the project, we are seeking information to aid in 
development of the NEPA analysis and the draft HCP, and to inform what 
level of environmental analysis would be necessary for project 
implementation. We will then develop a draft NEPA document based on the 
ITP application, Applicant's draft HCP, any associated documents, and 
public comments received through this early scoping effort. We may 
solicit additional public, agency, and Tribal input to identify the 
nature and scope of the environmental issues that should be addressed 
during NEPA review, following appropriate public notice. We will then 
publish a notice of availability for the draft NEPA document and draft 
HCP and seek additional public comment before completing our final 
analysis to determine whether to issue an ITP.

Public Comments

    During this 30-day public comment period (see DATES), the Service 
invites the public to provide comments that will aid our NEPA analysis. 
You may submit comments by one of the methods shown under ADDRESSES.

Public Availability of Comments

    We will post all public comments and information received 
electronically or via hardcopy on http://regulations.gov. All comments 
received, including names and addresses, will become part of the 
administrative record and will be available to the public. Before 
including

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your address, phone number, electronic mail address, or other personal 
identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your 
entire comment--including your personal identifying information--will 
be publicly available. If you submit a hardcopy comment that includes 
personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your 
document that we withhold this information from public review. However, 
we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Authority

    This notice is provided pursuant to NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.7 
and 1508.22).

    Dated: March 10, 2015.
Paul R. Phifer,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2015-09806 Filed 4-27-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4310-55-P