Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Hog Creek Wind Project, Hardin County, Ohio, 34461-34463 [2020-12046]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 108 / Thursday, June 4, 2020 / Notices amended on or after January 1, 2020, so long as the loan has not been initially endorsed. The adjusted Dollar Amounts for Calendar Year 2020 are shown below: Basic Statutory Mortgage Limits for Calendar Year 2020 Multifamily Loan Program Section 207—Multifamily Housing Section 207 pursuant to Section 223(f)— Purchase or Refinance Housing Section 220—Housing in Urban Renewal Areas Bedrooms 0 ................ 1 ................ 2 ................ 3 ................ 4+ .............. Non-elevator $54,892 60,807 72,633 89,525 101,352 Section 213—Cooperatives Bedrooms 0 ................ 1 ................ 2 ................ 3 ................ 4+ .............. Non-elevator $59,488 68,592 82,723 105,887 117,966 base amount of $15,000 per unit to define substantial rehabilitation for FHA insured loan programs. Section 5.1.D.2 of the MAP guide requires that this base amount be adjusted periodically based on the percentage change published by the CFPB or other inflation cost index published by HUD. Applying the HOEPA adjustment to the base amount, the 2020 base amount per dwelling unit to determine substantial rehabilitation for FHA insured loan programs is $16,299. Environmental Impact This issuance establishes mortgage and cost limits that do not constitute a development decision affecting the $64,026 physical condition of specific project 70,944 areas or building sites. Accordingly, 86,990 under 24 CFR 50.19(c)(6), this notice is 108,951 123,193 categorically excluded from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321). Elevator Elevator $63,342 71,764 87,265 112,895 123,927 Dated: June 1, 2020. John Garvin, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing. [FR Doc. 2020–12084 Filed 6–3–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–67–P 0 ................ 1 ................ 2 ................ 3 ................ 4+ .............. Non-elevator $60,702 69,991 84,411 108,050 120,372 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Elevator $63,881 73,230 89,049 115,201 126,454 Fish and Wildlife Service 0 ................ 1 ................ 2 ................ 3 ................ 4+ .............. Non-elevator $54,628 62,013 74,959 94,085 106,314 Endangered and Threatened Species; Incidental Take Permit Application and Habitat Conservation Plan for the Proposed Rooney Ranch Wind Elevator Repowering Project, Alameda County, California; Availability of Draft $59,010 Environmental Assessment; 67,649 Correction 82,262 106,418 116,817 Section 231—Housing for the Elderly Bedrooms khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 0 ................ 1 ................ 2 ................ 3 ................ 4+ .............. Non-elevator $51,937 58,063 69,336 83,443 98,101 Elevator $59,010 67,649 82,262 106,418 116,817 Section 207—Manufactured Home Parks Per Space—$25,200 Per Unit Limit for Substantial Rehabilitation for Calendar Year 2020 The 2016 Multifamily Accelerated Processing (MAP) Guide established a VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:24 Jun 03, 2020 Jkt 250001 Correction In notice document 2019–26478, appearing at 85 FR 32044 in the issue of Wednesday, May 28, 2020, make the following correction: On page 32044, the DATES caption should read as follows: DATES: To ensure consideration, please send your written comments by June 29, 2020. Sara Prigan, Federal Register Liaison. [FR Doc. 2020–12088 Filed 6–3–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2020–0046; FXES11140300000–201–FF03E00000] Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Hog Creek Wind Project, Hardin County, Ohio Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments. We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have received an application from Hog Creek Wind Project, LLC (the applicant), for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, for the Hog Creek Wind Farm Project. If approved, the ITP would authorize the incidental take of the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat for a 30-year term. The applicant has prepared a draft habitat conservation plan, which is available for public review. We also announce the availability of a draft environmental assessment, which has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. We request public comment on the application and associated documents. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before July 6, 2020. ADDRESSES: Obtaining documents: Electronic copies of the documents this notice announces will be available online in Docket No. FWS–R3–ES– 2020–0046 at http:// www.regulations.gov. Public comments will also be available online at http:// www.regulations.gov. SUMMARY: [Docket No. FWS–R8–ES–2019–0116; FXES11140900000–190–FF08E00000] Section 221(d)(4)—Moderate Income Housing Bedrooms deaf, please call the Federal Information Relay Service at 800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: AGENCY: Section 234—Condominium Housing Bedrooms 34461 Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of receipt of permit application; request for comments; correction. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, published a document in the May 28, 2020, Federal Register that announced the availability of a proposed habitat conservation plan and a draft environmental impact statement for public comment. The public comment period end date in the DATES section of the notice was incorrect. The correct date is June 29, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Claudia Funari, 916–414–6600. If you use a telecommunications device for the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\04JNN1.SGM 04JNN1 34462 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 108 / Thursday, June 4, 2020 / Notices Submitting comments: Please specify whether your comment addresses the draft habitat conservation plan, draft environmental assessment, any combination of the aforementioned documents, or other supporting documents. Please submit written comments by one of the following methods: • Online: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for and submit comments on Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2020–0046. • By hard copy: Submit comments by U.S. mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R3– ES–2020–0046; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: PRB/ 3W; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. For more information, see Public Comments. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Lott, Wildlife Biologist, or Patrice Ashfield, Project Leader, via phone at 614–416–8993, via the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339, or via U.S. mail at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ohio Ecological Services Office, 4625 Morse Road, Suite 104, Columbus, OH 43230. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received an application from Hog Creek Wind Project, LLC (the applicant), for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If approved, the ITP would be for a 30-year period and would authorize incidental take of the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and the threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). The applicant has prepared a draft habitat conservation plan (HCP), which covers the operation of the Hog Creek Wind Farm Project (project). The project consists of a wind-powered electric generation facility located in an approximately 236-acre area in Hardin County, Ohio. The draft HCP describes the following: 1. Permit duration; 2. Covered lands; 3. Covered species; 4. Project description and covered activities; 5. Environmental baseline and affected species; 6. Impact assessment and take authorization request for Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats; 7. Conservation plan, which includes the Biological Goals and Objectives, and measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impact of the taking; 8. Monitoring and adaptive management; 9. Funding assurances; 10. Alternatives to the taking; and VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:24 Jun 03, 2020 Jkt 250001 11. Changed and unforeseen circumstances. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 43 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and the ESA, the Service announces that we have gathered the information necessary to: 1. Determine the impacts and formulate alternatives for an EA related to: a. Issuance of an ITP to the applicant for the take of the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat, and b. Implementation of the associated HCP; and 2. Evaluate the application for ITP issuance, including the HCP, which provides measures to minimize and mitigate the effects of the proposed incidental take of the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat. Background The project includes 30 wind turbines, with a total energy-generating capacity of 66 megawatts (MW). The project began commercial operation in December of 2017. The need for the proposed action (i.e., issuance of an ITP) is based on the potential that operation of the project 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 includes 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. Purpose and Need for Action In accordance with NEPA, the Service has prepared a DEA to analyze the impacts to the human environment that would occur if the requested ITP is issued and the associated HCP is implemented. Proposed Action Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the ‘‘taking’’ of threatened and endangered species. However, provided certain criteria are met, the Service is authorized to issue permits under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA for take of federally listed species when, among other things, such a taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful activities. Under the ESA, the term ‘‘take’’ means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 capture, or collect endangered and threatened species, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Our implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) define ‘‘harm’’ as an act which actually kills or injures wildlife, and such act may include significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death or injury to listed species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3). The HCP analyzes, and the ITP would authorize, take from killing of bats due to the operation of the project. If issued, the ITP would authorize incidental take consistent with the applicant’s HCP and the ITP. To issue the ITP, the Service must find that the application, including the associated HCP, satisfies the criteria of section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA and the Service’s implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 13 and § 17.22. If the ITP is issued, the applicant would receive assurances under the Service’s No Surprises policy, codified at 50 CFR 17.22(b)(5). The applicant proposes to operate a maximum of 30 wind turbines and associated facilities for a period of 30 years in Hardin County, Ohio. The project consists of wind turbines, associated gravel pads and access roads, underground and above-ground electrical collection circuits, one substation, a generator lead line, one permanent meteorological tower, and an operations and maintenance facility. The draft HCP describes the impacts of take associated with the operation of the project and includes measures to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor the impacts of incidental take on the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat. The applicant will mitigate for take and associated impacts through one or more methods, including restoration, if necessary, and permanent protection of documented maternity colony habitat and/or swarming habitat, and/or gating of a hibernaculum. Habitat mitigation, including any restored habitat, will occur on private land and be permanently protected by a conservation easement, fee simple acquisition with deed restrictions, or another site protection instrument that provides an equivalent level of protection, and will be approved by the Service. Chapter 5 of the HCP describes the avoidance, minimization measures, and compensatory mitigation that will limit and mitigate for the take of Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats. This chapter also includes the monitoring and adaptive management plans to ensure that the level of take stays within permitted levels and mitigation sites are E:\FR\FM\04JNN1.SGM 04JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 108 / Thursday, June 4, 2020 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES maintained as suitable habitat for the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat. The Service is soliciting information regarding the adequacy of the HCP to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor the proposed incidental take of the covered species and to provide for adaptive management. In compliance with section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1539(c)), the Service is making the ITP application materials available for public review and comment as described above. We invite comments and suggestions from all interested parties on the draft documents associated with the ITP application (HCP and HCP appendices), and request that comments be as specific as possible. In particular, we request information and comments on the following topics: 1. Whether adaptive management, mitigation, and monitoring provisions in the proposed action alternative are sufficient; 2. Any threats to the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat that may influence their populations over the life of the ITP that are not addressed in the draft HCP or DEA; 3. Any new information on whitenose syndrome effects on the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat; and 4. Any other information pertinent to evaluating the effects of the proposed action on the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat. Alternatives in the Draft Environmental Assessment The DEA contains an analysis of four alternatives: 1. No Action alternative, in which the Service would not issue a permit to the applicant, and the project turbines would be feathered until wind speeds reach 6.9 m/s from a half-hour before sunset to a half-hour after sunrise during the entirety of the fall migration season (August 1 through October 31) and spring migration season (March 15 through May 15), under which conditions take of listed species is unlikely to occur; 2. The applicant’s Proposed Alternative, in which the Service would issue an ITP to authorize incidental take of covered species associated with the project’s operations as described in the applicant’s HCP. In this alternative, the project turbines would be feathered until wind speeds reach 3.0 m/s during the spring migration (April 1 through May 15) from a half-hour before sunset to a half-hour after sunrise, and during the fall migration season (August 1 through October 15), project turbines would be feathered until wind speeds reach 5.0 m/s from a half-hour before VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:24 Jun 03, 2020 Jkt 250001 sunset to a half-hour after sunrise. While take is not anticipated during the summer (May 16–July 31), turbines will be feathered until wind speeds reach 3.0 m/s from a half-hour before sunset to a half-hour after sunrise. Minimization measures would be applicable until the temperature was greater than 10 degrees Celsius (°C). In this alternative, the applicant estimated take of Indiana and northern long-eared bats using an approach that addresses inherent uncertainty in take estimates by incorporating a 50 percent confidence bound around the mean estimate, and a 50 percent reduction in take from application of the proposed cut-in speed regime. The various phases of this project began and will end in different years; thus, different numbers of turbines will be operational during the three different phases, which will change the amount of take during each of the phases. Thus, the estimated fatality rates under this alternative are 3.3 Indiana bats per year, and 1 northern long-eared bat per year. This results in a total of 97 Indiana bats and 30 northern long-eared bats over the 30year permit term. 3. More Restrictive Operations alternative, in which the Service would issue an ITP for the HCP, but turbine operations would be different than under the applicant’s proposed project. All turbines would be feathered when the ambient temperature is above 10°C based on a 5-minute rolling average from one half-hour before sunset to one half-hour after sunrise during the spring migration season (April 1 through May 15) up to 3.0 m/s, summer (May 16 through July 31) up to 3.0 m/s, and during the fall migration season (August 1 through October 15) up to 6.5 m/s. The estimated fatality rates for this alternative are 1.5 Indiana bats and 0.5 northern long-eared bats per year. This results in a total of 44.9 Indiana bats and 13.8 northern long-eared bats over the 30-year permit term. The quantity of mitigation needed to offset the impact of the taking and the level of effort of monitoring varies between the alternatives, although mitigation, monitoring, adaptive management, and funding assurances are components of all three action alternatives. The DEA considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the alternatives, including any measures intended to minimize and mitigate such impacts. The DEA also identifies additional alternatives that were considered but were eliminated from analysis as detailed in section 2.4 of the DEA. The Service invites comments and suggestions from all interested parties PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 34463 on the content of the DEA. In particular, information and comments regarding the following topics are requested: 1. The direct, indirect, or cumulative effects that implementation of any alternative could have on the human environment; 2. Whether or not the significance of the impact on various aspects of the human environment has been adequately analyzed; and 3. Any other information pertinent to evaluating the effects of the proposed action on the human environment. Public Comments You may submit your comments and materials related to the draft HCP, DEA, or other supporting documents by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request you send comments using only one of the methods described in ADDRESSES. 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. Authority We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1539(c)) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22) and the NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 1506.6; 43 CFR part 46). Lori Nordstrom, Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Great Lakes Region. [FR Doc. 2020–12046 Filed 6–3–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service [NPS–WASO–NRNHL–DTS#–30354; PPWOCRADI0, PCU00RP14.R50000] National Register of Historic Places; Notification of Pending Nominations and Related Actions National Park Service, Interior. Notice. AGENCY: ACTION: The National Park Service is soliciting electronic comments on the significance of properties nominated before May 16, 2020, for listing or related actions in the National Register of Historic Places. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\04JNN1.SGM 04JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 108 (Thursday, June 4, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 34461-34463]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-12046]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2020-0046; FXES11140300000-201-FF03E00000]


Draft Environmental Assessment and Draft Habitat Conservation 
Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Hog 
Creek Wind Project, Hardin County, Ohio

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for comments.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have received an 
application from Hog Creek Wind Project, LLC (the applicant), for an 
incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 
as amended, for the Hog Creek Wind Farm Project. If approved, the ITP 
would authorize the incidental take of the Indiana bat and the northern 
long-eared bat for a 30-year term. The applicant has prepared a draft 
habitat conservation plan, which is available for public review. We 
also announce the availability of a draft environmental assessment, 
which has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the 
National Environmental Policy Act. We request public comment on the 
application and associated documents.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before July 
6, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Obtaining documents: Electronic copies of the documents this 
notice announces will be available online in Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2020-
0046 at http://www.regulations.gov. Public comments will also be 
available online at http://www.regulations.gov.

[[Page 34462]]

    Submitting comments: Please specify whether your comment addresses 
the draft habitat conservation plan, draft environmental assessment, 
any combination of the aforementioned documents, or other supporting 
documents. Please submit written comments by one of the following 
methods:
     Online: http://www.regulations.gov. Search for and submit 
comments on Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2020-0046.
     By hard copy: Submit comments by U.S. mail to Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2020-0046; U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: PRB/3W; Falls Church, VA 
22041-3803.
    For more information, see Public Comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Lott, Wildlife Biologist, or 
Patrice Ashfield, Project Leader, via phone at 614-416-8993, via the 
Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339, or via U.S. mail at the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, Ohio Ecological Services Office, 4625 Morse 
Road, Suite 104, Columbus, OH 43230.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(Service), have received an application from Hog Creek Wind Project, 
LLC (the applicant), for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If approved, the 
ITP would be for a 30-year period and would authorize incidental take 
of the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and the threatened 
northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis).
    The applicant has prepared a draft habitat conservation plan (HCP), 
which covers the operation of the Hog Creek Wind Farm Project 
(project). The project consists of a wind-powered electric generation 
facility located in an approximately 236-acre area in Hardin County, 
Ohio. The draft HCP describes the following:
    1. Permit duration;
    2. Covered lands;
    3. Covered species;
    4. Project description and covered activities;
    5. Environmental baseline and affected species;
    6. Impact assessment and take authorization request for Indiana 
bats and northern long-eared bats;
    7. Conservation plan, which includes the Biological Goals and 
Objectives, and measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impact of 
the taking;
    8. Monitoring and adaptive management;
    9. Funding assurances;
    10. Alternatives to the taking; and
    11. Changed and unforeseen circumstances.
    Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 43 U.S.C. 4321 
et seq.) and the ESA, the Service announces that we have gathered the 
information necessary to:
    1. Determine the impacts and formulate alternatives for an EA 
related to:
    a. Issuance of an ITP to the applicant for the take of the Indiana 
bat and the northern long-eared bat, and
    b. Implementation of the associated HCP; and
    2. Evaluate the application for ITP issuance, including the HCP, 
which provides measures to minimize and mitigate the effects of the 
proposed incidental take of the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared 
bat.

Background

    The project includes 30 wind turbines, with a total energy-
generating capacity of 66 megawatts (MW). The project began commercial 
operation in December of 2017. The need for the proposed action (i.e., 
issuance of an ITP) is based on the potential that operation of the 
project 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 includes 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.

Purpose and Need for Action

    In accordance with NEPA, the Service has prepared a DEA to analyze 
the impacts to the human environment that would occur if the requested 
ITP is issued and the associated HCP is implemented.

Proposed Action

    Section 9 of the ESA prohibits the ``taking'' of threatened and 
endangered species. However, provided certain criteria are met, the 
Service is authorized to issue permits under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the 
ESA for take of federally listed species when, among other things, such 
a taking is incidental to, and not the purpose of, otherwise lawful 
activities. Under the ESA, the term ``take'' means to harass, harm, 
pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect endangered 
and threatened species, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. 
Our implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR) define ``harm'' as an act which actually kills or 
injures wildlife, and such act may include significant habitat 
modification or degradation that results in death or injury to listed 
species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, 
including breeding, feeding, or sheltering (50 CFR 17.3).
    The HCP analyzes, and the ITP would authorize, take from killing of 
bats due to the operation of the project. If issued, the ITP would 
authorize incidental take consistent with the applicant's HCP and the 
ITP. To issue the ITP, the Service must find that the application, 
including the associated HCP, satisfies the criteria of section 
10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA and the Service's implementing regulations at 50 
CFR part 13 and Sec.  17.22. If the ITP is issued, the applicant would 
receive assurances under the Service's No Surprises policy, codified at 
50 CFR 17.22(b)(5).
    The applicant proposes to operate a maximum of 30 wind turbines and 
associated facilities for a period of 30 years in Hardin County, Ohio. 
The project consists of wind turbines, associated gravel pads and 
access roads, underground and above-ground electrical collection 
circuits, one substation, a generator lead line, one permanent 
meteorological tower, and an operations and maintenance facility.
    The draft HCP describes the impacts of take associated with the 
operation of the project and includes measures to avoid, minimize, 
mitigate, and monitor the impacts of incidental take on the Indiana bat 
and the northern long-eared bat. The applicant will mitigate for take 
and associated impacts through one or more methods, including 
restoration, if necessary, and permanent protection of documented 
maternity colony habitat and/or swarming habitat, and/or gating of a 
hibernaculum. Habitat mitigation, including any restored habitat, will 
occur on private land and be permanently protected by a conservation 
easement, fee simple acquisition with deed restrictions, or another 
site protection instrument that provides an equivalent level of 
protection, and will be approved by the Service. Chapter 5 of the HCP 
describes the avoidance, minimization measures, and compensatory 
mitigation that will limit and mitigate for the take of Indiana bats 
and northern long-eared bats. This chapter also includes the monitoring 
and adaptive management plans to ensure that the level of take stays 
within permitted levels and mitigation sites are

[[Page 34463]]

maintained as suitable habitat for the Indiana bat and northern long-
eared bat.
    The Service is soliciting information regarding the adequacy of the 
HCP to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and monitor the proposed incidental 
take of the covered species and to provide for adaptive management. In 
compliance with section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1539(c)), the 
Service is making the ITP application materials available for public 
review and comment as described above.
    We invite comments and suggestions from all interested parties on 
the draft documents associated with the ITP application (HCP and HCP 
appendices), and request that comments be as specific as possible. In 
particular, we request information and comments on the following 
topics:
    1. Whether adaptive management, mitigation, and monitoring 
provisions in the proposed action alternative are sufficient;
    2. Any threats to the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat 
that may influence their populations over the life of the ITP that are 
not addressed in the draft HCP or DEA;
    3. Any new information on white-nose syndrome effects on the 
Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat; and
    4. Any other information pertinent to evaluating the effects of the 
proposed action on the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat.

Alternatives in the Draft Environmental Assessment

    The DEA contains an analysis of four alternatives:
    1. No Action alternative, in which the Service would not issue a 
permit to the applicant, and the project turbines would be feathered 
until wind speeds reach 6.9 m/s from a half-hour before sunset to a 
half-hour after sunrise during the entirety of the fall migration 
season (August 1 through October 31) and spring migration season (March 
15 through May 15), under which conditions take of listed species is 
unlikely to occur;
    2. The applicant's Proposed Alternative, in which the Service would 
issue an ITP to authorize incidental take of covered species associated 
with the project's operations as described in the applicant's HCP. In 
this alternative, the project turbines would be feathered until wind 
speeds reach 3.0 m/s during the spring migration (April 1 through May 
15) from a half-hour before sunset to a half-hour after sunrise, and 
during the fall migration season (August 1 through October 15), project 
turbines would be feathered until wind speeds reach 5.0 m/s from a 
half-hour before sunset to a half-hour after sunrise. While take is not 
anticipated during the summer (May 16-July 31), turbines will be 
feathered until wind speeds reach 3.0 m/s from a half-hour before 
sunset to a half-hour after sunrise. Minimization measures would be 
applicable until the temperature was greater than 10 degrees Celsius 
([deg]C). In this alternative, the applicant estimated take of Indiana 
and northern long-eared bats using an approach that addresses inherent 
uncertainty in take estimates by incorporating a 50 percent confidence 
bound around the mean estimate, and a 50 percent reduction in take from 
application of the proposed cut-in speed regime. The various phases of 
this project began and will end in different years; thus, different 
numbers of turbines will be operational during the three different 
phases, which will change the amount of take during each of the phases. 
Thus, the estimated fatality rates under this alternative are 3.3 
Indiana bats per year, and 1 northern long-eared bat per year. This 
results in a total of 97 Indiana bats and 30 northern long-eared bats 
over the 30-year permit term.
    3. More Restrictive Operations alternative, in which the Service 
would issue an ITP for the HCP, but turbine operations would be 
different than under the applicant's proposed project. All turbines 
would be feathered when the ambient temperature is above 10[deg]C based 
on a 5-minute rolling average from one half-hour before sunset to one 
half-hour after sunrise during the spring migration season (April 1 
through May 15) up to 3.0 m/s, summer (May 16 through July 31) up to 
3.0 m/s, and during the fall migration season (August 1 through October 
15) up to 6.5 m/s. The estimated fatality rates for this alternative 
are 1.5 Indiana bats and 0.5 northern long-eared bats per year. This 
results in a total of 44.9 Indiana bats and 13.8 northern long-eared 
bats over the 30-year permit term. The quantity of mitigation needed to 
offset the impact of the taking and the level of effort of monitoring 
varies between the alternatives, although mitigation, monitoring, 
adaptive management, and funding assurances are components of all three 
action alternatives.
    The DEA considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of 
the alternatives, including any measures intended to minimize and 
mitigate such impacts. The DEA also identifies additional alternatives 
that were considered but were eliminated from analysis as detailed in 
section 2.4 of the DEA.
    The Service invites comments and suggestions from all interested 
parties on the content of the DEA. In particular, information and 
comments regarding the following topics are requested:
    1. The direct, indirect, or cumulative effects that implementation 
of any alternative could have on the human environment;
    2. Whether or not the significance of the impact on various aspects 
of the human environment has been adequately analyzed; and
    3. Any other information pertinent to evaluating the effects of the 
proposed action on the human environment.

Public Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials related to the draft 
HCP, DEA, or other supporting documents by one of the methods listed in 
ADDRESSES. We request you send comments using only one of the methods 
described in ADDRESSES.
    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.

Authority

    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1539(c)) and its implementing regulations (50 CFR 17.22) and the NEPA 
(42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations (40 CFR 
1506.6; 43 CFR part 46).

Lori Nordstrom,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Great Lakes Region.
[FR Doc. 2020-12046 Filed 6-3-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P