Public Comment Period Reopened for Draft Habitat Conservation Plan for Second Maui Wind Farm

February 8, 2011, 1:24 PM HST · Updated February 8, 2:20 PM
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File photo of Kaheawa Wind Farm at Maalaea on Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Sonia Isotov

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today the reopening of the public comment period for the draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and Environmental Assessment (EA) submitted by Kaheawa Wind Power II, LLC for public review.

The initial 30-day public comment period closed on December 9, 2010. At the request of the general public, the comment period is being reopened for an additional 30 days.

An incidental take permit is required when nonfederal activities are likely to result in “take” of a threatened or endangered species while carrying out otherwise lawful activities.

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Kaheawa Wind Power II is requesting a permit because incidental take of four species may result from collisions during the construction and operation of the wind energy generation facility.

The species affected are the endangered Hawaiian goose or nēnē, Hawaiian petrel or „ua„u, Hawaiian hoary bat or „ōpe„ape„a and the threatened Newell‟s shearwater or „a„o.

“Take,” as defined by the federal Endangered Species Act, means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct. Harm may include significant habitat modification where it actually kills or injures a listed species by impairing essential behavior (e.g., nesting or reproduction).

The HCP describes how Kaheawa Wind Power II will – to the maximum extent practicable – avoid, minimize, and mitigate the potential incidental take of protected species that may result from the construction and operation of a new 21-megawatt, 14-turbine wind energy generation facility at Kaheawa Pastures above Ma„alaea, in the southwestern portion of Maui.

The facility also includes an electrical substation, a battery energy storage system, an underground electrical collection system, an overhead transmission line, a meteorological monitoring tower, and service access roads. The project is located within a combined area of approximately 143 acres.

The permit authorizes the take of the listed species incidental to the construction, operation, and maintenance of the proposed facilities, during the next twenty years.

Kaheawa Wind Power II is proposing mitigation measures that include: active management such as predator removal and construction of cat and mongoose proof fences at Hawaiian petrel and Newel’s shearwater colonies; release of nēnē (adults and goslings) at approved sites; habitat management and predator control to increase nēnē breeding success and survival; surveys to document the distribution and abundance of the Hawaiian hoary bat; and habitat management and reforestation to benefit the recovery of the Hawaiian hoary bat.

This HCP incorporates adaptive management provisions to allow for modifications to the mitigation and monitoring measures as knowledge is gained during implementation.

The Service‟s draft environmental assessment considers the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the proposed action of permit issuance, including the measures that would be implemented to minimize and mitigate such impacts. The environmental assessment contains an analysis of three alternatives: issuance of a permit to Kaheawa Wind Power II on the basis of the action as described in the proposed HCP; the issuance of a permit based on a different siting location; and the no action alternative (no permit issuance and no measures by the applicant to reduce or eliminate the take of the four listed species).

The Service requests information, views, and opinions from the public on the proposed federal action of issuing a permit, including the identification of any aspects of the human environment not already analyzed in the environmental assessment.

In addition, the Service specifically solicits information pertaining to the adequacy of the HCP as measured against the permit issuance criteria.

Both the federal and Hawai„i Endangered Species Acts provide for the HCP process to allow development activities to proceed while promoting the conservation of listed species. The Service and the Hawai Department of Land and Natural Resources jointly process HCPs but issue separate incidental take permits and licenses, respectively.

All comments from interested parties must be received on or before March 10, 2011. Written comments should be submitted to: Loyal Mehrhoff, Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 3-122, Honolulu, Hawai„i 96850. Comments may also be sent via facsimile to 808 792-9580.

Documents are posted on the Service‟s website at http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/. Copies and additional information may also be obtained from Dawn Greenlee at 808-792-9400, or by writing to the address listed above.

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