Draft Environmental Assessment and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Bluff Point Wind Energy Center, Jay and Randolph Counties, Indiana, 81484-81485 [2020-27667]

Download as PDF 81484 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 242 / Wednesday, December 16, 2020 / Notices e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. Maile Arthur, Acting Records Management Branch Chief, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, Mission Support, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security. [FR Doc. 2020–27678 Filed 12–15–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–45–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS–R3–ES–2020–0045; FXES11140300000–212] Draft Environmental Assessment and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Bluff Point Wind Energy Center, Jay and Randolph Counties, Indiana Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of availability of documents; request for comment and information. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have received an application from NextEra Energy Bluff Point LLC (applicant), for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), for its Bluff Point Wind Energy Center (project). If approved, the ITP would be for a 30-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 habitat conservation plan (HCP) that describes the actions and measures that the applicant would implement to avoid, minimize, and mitigate incidental take of the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat. We 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). We request public comment on the application, the DEA, and associated documents. DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before January 15, 2021. ADDRESSES: Document availability: Internet: Electronic copies of the documents this notice announces will be available online in Docket No. FWS– R3–ES–2020–0045 at http:// www.regulations.gov. Public comments khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 15, 2020 Jkt 253001 will also be available online at http:// www.regulations.gov. Comment submission: In your comment, please specify whether your comment addresses the proposed HCP, draft EA, or any combination of the aforementioned documents, or other supporting documents. You may 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–2020–0045. • By hard copy: Submit comments by U.S. mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R3– ES–2020–0045; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: PRB/ 3W; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Pruitt, Field Supervisor, Bloomington, Indiana, Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 620 South Walker Street, Bloomington, IN 47403; telephone: 812–334–4261, extension 214; or Andrew Horton, Regional HCP Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—Interior Region 3, 5600 American Blvd., West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437–1458; telephone: 612–713–5337. Individuals who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339 for TTY assistance. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and its implementing regulations prohibit the ‘‘take’’ of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. Take is defined under the ESA as to ‘‘harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect ‘‘listed animal species,’’ or to attempt to engage in such conduct’’ (16 U.S.C. 1532). However, under section 10(a) of the ESA, we may issue permits to authorize incidental take of listed species. ‘‘Incidental take’’ is defined by the ESA as take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity (16 U.S.C. 1539). Regulations governing incidental take permits for endangered and threatened species, respectively, are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32. Applicant’s Proposed Project The applicant requests a 30-year ITP to take the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 septentrionalis) at the Bluff Point Wind Resource Area (BPWRA) in Jay and Randolph Counties, consisting of approximately 23,613 acres of private land. The applicant determined that unavoidable take is reasonably certain to occur incidental to operation of 57 previously constructed wind turbines. The proposed conservation strategy in the applicant’s proposed HCP is designed to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts of the covered activity on the covered species. The biological goals and objectives are to minimize potential take of Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats through on-site minimization measures and to provide habitat conservation measures for Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats to offset any unavoidable impacts from operations of the project. The BPWRA includes confirmed Indiana bat summer roost habitat and northern longeared bat summer maternity habitat. The HCP provides on-site avoidance and minimization measures, which include seasonal turbine operational curtailment and adaptive management measures that allow for modifications to the minimization and mitigation measures based on monitoring results and other triggers, and a 1,000 foot minimization buffer during the summer season to protect potential summer habitat for both covered species. Based on the available data, the predicted level of take is anticipated to be 63 Indiana bats and 32 northern long-eared bats over the 30-year permit term. However, the applicant requests a permit to take 165 Indiana bats and 84 northern long-eared bats over the 30-year permit term due to the uncertainty associated with estimating take and the exact (or specific) reduction in fatalities from the minimization without facility specific data. To fully offset the impacts of the taking of 122 Indiana bats and 42 northern long-eared bats, the applicant proposes to protect in perpetuity 77.2 acres of known maternity colony habitat and staging/swarming habitat through a conservation easement held by a 501(c)3 non-profit at a Land of Indiana site in Greene County, Indiana through a thirdparty mitigation provider, First Indiana Resources, LLC. The HCP includes adaptive management measures if mitigation is insufficient to fully offset the impact of the actual take determined through mortality monitoring. National Environmental Policy Act The issuance of an ITP is a Federal action that triggers the need for compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). We prepared a draft EA that analyzes the environmental impacts on the human environment resulting from E:\FR\FM\16DEN1.SGM 16DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 242 / Wednesday, December 16, 2020 / Notices three alternatives: A no-action alternative, the applicant’s proposed action, and a more restrictive alternative consisting of feathering turbines at a rate of wind speed that results in less impacts to bats. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Next Steps The Service will evaluate the application and the comments received to determine whether the permit application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We will also conduct an intraService consultation pursuant to section 7 of the ESA to evaluate the effects of the proposed take. After considering the above findings, we will determine whether the permit issuance criteria of section 10(a)(l)(B) of the ESA have been met. If met, the Service will issue the requested ITP to the applicant. Public Comments The Service invites the public to comment and suggestions from all interested parties on the proposed HCP and draft EA and supporting documents during a 30-day public comment period (see DATES). In particular, information and comments regarding the following topics are requested: 1. Whether adaptive management, monitoring and mitigation 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 proposed HCP or draft EA; 3. Any new information on whitenose syndrome effects on the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat; 4. Whether or not the significance of the impact on various aspects of the human environment has been adequately analyzed; 5. Any other information pertinent to evaluating the effects of the proposed action on the Indiana bat, the northern long-eared bat and the human environment; and 6. The direct, indirect, or cumulative effects that implementation of any alternative could have on the human environment. You may submit comments by one of the methods shown under ADDRESSES. We will post on http://regulations.gov all public comments and information received electronically or via hardcopy. All comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of the administrative record associated with this action. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:32 Dec 15, 2020 Jkt 253001 should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can request in your comment that we withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their entirety. Authority We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) 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. [FR Doc. 2020–27667 Filed 12–15–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs [212A2100DD/AAKC001030/ A0A501010.999900253G] Land Acquisitions; Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Assistant Secretary— Indian Affairs made a final agency determination to acquire in trust 11.33 acres, more or less, of land in the City of Hobart, Kiowa County, Oklahoma, (Site) for the Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma (Tribe) for gaming and other purposes. DATES: This final determination was made on December 11, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Paula L. Hart, Director, Office of Indian Gaming, Bureau of Indian Affairs, MS– 3543 MIB, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240, telephone (202) 219–4066, paula.hart@bia.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice is published in the exercise of authority delegated by the Secretary of the Interior to the Assistant Secretary— Indian Affairs by 209 Departmental Manual 8.1, and is published to comply with the requirements of 25 CFR 151.12(c)(2)(ii) that notice of the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 81485 decision to acquire land in trust be promptly provided in the Federal Register. On the date listed in the DATES section of this notice, the Assistant Secretary— Indian Affairs issued a decision to acquire the Site, consisting of 11.33 acres, more or less, of land in trust for the Tribe under the authority of the Indian Reorganization Act, 25 U.S.C. 5108. The Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs determined that Tribe’s request also meets the requirements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’s ‘‘Oklahoma exception,’’ 25 U.S.C. 2719(a)(2)(A)(i), to the general prohibition contained in 25 U.S.C. 2719(a) for gaming on lands acquired in trust after October 17, 1988. The Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs, on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior, will immediately acquire title to the Site in the name of the United States of America in trust for the Tribe upon fulfillment of Departmental requirements. The 11.33 acres, more or less, are located in the City of Hobart, Kiowa County, Oklahoma, and are described as follows: The surface and surface rights only in a tract of land located in the SE/4 of Section 02, Township 06 North, Range 18 West of the Indian Base and Meridian, Kiowa County, Oklahoma and more particularly described as follows: Commencing at the SE Corner of the said SE/4; thence N 00°06′58″ E along the East Line of the said SE/4 a distance of 1414.12 feet; thence N 89°53′02″ W perpendicular to the said East Line a distance of 66.30 feet to the East Right-of-Way Line of U.S. Highway No. 183, and the point of beginning; thence N 89°52′41″ W a distance of 1304.40 feet; thence N 00°06′58″ E a distance of 373.30 feet; thence S 89°52′41″ E a distance of 1320.00 feet to the said East Right-of-Way Line; thence S 01°06′35″ E along the said East Right-of-Way Line a distance of 307.98 feet; thence S 18°51′28″ W a distance of 69.05 feet to the point of beginning, consisting of 11.33 acres, more or less; surface and surface rights only. Basis of bearings: True Meridian. Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs. [FR Doc. 2020–27699 Filed 12–15–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4337–15–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Land Management [21X.LLAKR00000.L13100000.DB0000] Notice of Availability of the Coastal Plain Marsh Creek East Seismic Exploration Environmental Assessment AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior. E:\FR\FM\16DEN1.SGM 16DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 242 (Wednesday, December 16, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 81484-81485]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-27667]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-ES-2020-0045; FXES11140300000-212]


Draft Environmental Assessment and Proposed Habitat Conservation 
Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Bluff 
Point Wind Energy Center, Jay and Randolph Counties, Indiana

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability of documents; request for comment and 
information.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), have 
received an application from NextEra Energy Bluff Point LLC 
(applicant), for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), for its Bluff Point Wind Energy 
Center (project). If approved, the ITP would be for a 30-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 habitat conservation plan (HCP) that describes 
the actions and measures that the applicant would implement to avoid, 
minimize, and mitigate incidental take of the Indiana bat and northern 
long-eared bat. We 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). We request public comment on 
the application, the DEA, and associated documents.

DATES: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before 
January 15, 2021.

ADDRESSES: Document availability:
    Internet: Electronic copies of the documents this notice announces 
will be available online in Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2020-0045 at http://www.regulations.gov. Public comments will also be available online at 
http://www.regulations.gov.
    Comment submission: In your comment, please specify whether your 
comment addresses the proposed HCP, draft EA, or any combination of the 
aforementioned documents, or other supporting documents. You may 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-2020-0045.
     By hard copy: Submit comments by U.S. mail to Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R3-ES-2020-0045; U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: PRB/3W; Falls Church, VA 
22041-3803.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Pruitt, Field Supervisor, 
Bloomington, Indiana, Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 620 South Walker Street, Bloomington, IN 47403; 
telephone: 812-334-4261, extension 214; or Andrew Horton, Regional HCP 
Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service--Interior Region 3, 5600 
American Blvd., West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437-1458; telephone: 
612-713-5337.
    Individuals who are hearing or speech impaired may call the Federal 
Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY assistance.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 
16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and its implementing regulations prohibit the 
``take'' of animal species listed as endangered or threatened. Take is 
defined under the ESA as to ``harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, 
kill, trap, capture, or collect ``listed animal species,'' or to 
attempt to engage in such conduct'' (16 U.S.C. 1532). However, under 
section 10(a) of the ESA, we may issue permits to authorize incidental 
take of listed species. ``Incidental take'' is defined by the ESA as 
take that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an 
otherwise lawful activity (16 U.S.C. 1539). Regulations governing 
incidental take permits for endangered and threatened species, 
respectively, are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 
17.22 and 50 CFR 17.32.

Applicant's Proposed Project

    The applicant requests a 30-year ITP to take the federally 
endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and threatened northern long-
eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) at the Bluff Point Wind Resource 
Area (BPWRA) in Jay and Randolph Counties, consisting of approximately 
23,613 acres of private land. The applicant determined that unavoidable 
take is reasonably certain to occur incidental to operation of 57 
previously constructed wind turbines. The proposed conservation 
strategy in the applicant's proposed HCP is designed to avoid, 
minimize, and mitigate the impacts of the covered activity on the 
covered species. The biological goals and objectives are to minimize 
potential take of Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats through on-
site minimization measures and to provide habitat conservation measures 
for Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats to offset any unavoidable 
impacts from operations of the project. The BPWRA includes confirmed 
Indiana bat summer roost habitat and northern long-eared bat summer 
maternity habitat. The HCP provides on-site avoidance and minimization 
measures, which include seasonal turbine operational curtailment and 
adaptive management measures that allow for modifications to the 
minimization and mitigation measures based on monitoring results and 
other triggers, and a 1,000 foot minimization buffer during the summer 
season to protect potential summer habitat for both covered species. 
Based on the available data, the predicted level of take is anticipated 
to be 63 Indiana bats and 32 northern long-eared bats over the 30-year 
permit term. However, the applicant requests a permit to take 165 
Indiana bats and 84 northern long-eared bats over the 30-year permit 
term due to the uncertainty associated with estimating take and the 
exact (or specific) reduction in fatalities from the minimization 
without facility specific data. To fully offset the impacts of the 
taking of 122 Indiana bats and 42 northern long-eared bats, the 
applicant proposes to protect in perpetuity 77.2 acres of known 
maternity colony habitat and staging/swarming habitat through a 
conservation easement held by a 501(c)3 non-profit at a Land of Indiana 
site in Greene County, Indiana through a third-party mitigation 
provider, First Indiana Resources, LLC. The HCP includes adaptive 
management measures if mitigation is insufficient to fully offset the 
impact of the actual take determined through mortality monitoring.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The issuance of an ITP is a Federal action that triggers the need 
for compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). We prepared a draft 
EA that analyzes the environmental impacts on the human environment 
resulting from

[[Page 81485]]

three alternatives: A no-action alternative, the applicant's proposed 
action, and a more restrictive alternative consisting of feathering 
turbines at a rate of wind speed that results in less impacts to bats.

Next Steps

    The Service will evaluate the application and the comments received 
to determine whether the permit application meets the requirements of 
section 10(a) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We will also conduct 
an intra-Service consultation pursuant to section 7 of the ESA to 
evaluate the effects of the proposed take. After considering the above 
findings, we will determine whether the permit issuance criteria of 
section 10(a)(l)(B) of the ESA have been met. If met, the Service will 
issue the requested ITP to the applicant.

Public Comments

    The Service invites the public to comment and suggestions from all 
interested parties on the proposed HCP and draft EA and supporting 
documents during a 30-day public comment period (see DATES). In 
particular, information and comments regarding the following topics are 
requested:
    1. Whether adaptive management, monitoring and mitigation 
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 proposed HCP or draft EA;
    3. Any new information on white-nose syndrome effects on the 
Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat;
    4. Whether or not the significance of the impact on various aspects 
of the human environment has been adequately analyzed;
    5. Any other information pertinent to evaluating the effects of the 
proposed action on the Indiana bat, the northern long-eared bat and the 
human environment; and
    6. The direct, indirect, or cumulative effects that implementation 
of any alternative could have on the human environment.
    You may submit comments by one of the methods shown under 
ADDRESSES. We will post on http://regulations.gov all public comments 
and information received electronically or via hardcopy. All comments 
received, including names and addresses, will become part of the 
administrative record associated with this action. 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 request in your 
comment that we withhold your personal identifying information from 
public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All 
submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, will be made available for public disclosure in their 
entirety.

Authority

    We provide this notice under section 10(c) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.) 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.
[FR Doc. 2020-27667 Filed 12-15-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4333-15-P