Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Habitat Conservation Plan for Commercial Wind Energy Developments Within Nine States
We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, as lead agency advise the public that we intend to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) on a proposed application, including a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The potential ITP would include federally listed and candidate species within portions of nine states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas). The activities covered by a potential ITP would include regional- level construction, operation, and maintenance associated with multiple commercial wind energy facilities. The planning partners are currently considering, for inclusion in the HCP, certain species listed as federally threatened or endangered, or having the potential to become listed during the life of the HCP, and having some likelihood of being taken by the applicant's activities within the proposed permit area. The intended effect of this notice is to gather information from the public to develop and analyze the effects of the potential issuance of an ITP that would facilitate wind energy development within the planning area, while minimizing incidental take and mitigating the effects of any incidental take to the maximum extent practicable. We provide this notice to (1) Describe the proposed action; (2) advise other Federal and state agencies, potentially affected tribal interests, and the public of our intent to prepare an EIS; (3) announce the initiation of a 90-day public scoping period; and (4) obtain suggestions and information on the scope of issues and possible alternatives to be included in the EIS.