Because the Project will be sited in an extremely sensitive location for the whooping crane—one of the most endangered and vulnerable wildlife species in North America (among many other species that will be impacted by the Project)—this letter is sent with the goal of starting a robust dialogue between my client and APEX to assist APEX in examining less risky project locations or at least to immediately commence the necessary procedural steps to ensure this Project can be built in a sustainable and legally compliant manner.
[T]he high-risk nature of this concern is summed up in the Blair Wildlife habitat assessment report submitted as Exhibit A with the letter:
In light of the especially sensitive location of these two proposed wind farm developments being contained entirely within the 50 percent core area of the whooping crane migratory corridor and bisected by the whooping crane migration corridor centerline—coupled with the unique physiological characteristics of the whooping crane affecting its flight maneuverability and the species’ grueling biannual migration that significantly depletes its energetic resources—it is our professional opinion, based on the best available scientific evidence, that these proposed wind farm development projects, both individually and in combination, are virtually certain to result in the ‘take’ of whooping cranes through lethal and/or non-lethal means. Given the precarious status of the whooping crane, significant threats to the species continuance and recovery, and the existing baseline of incidental take authorizations already issued by the [US Fish and Wildlife Service], the additive take from each of these proposed wind development projects may well impair the recovery prospects of this species. Accordingly, based on the locality and existing characteristics of the proposed wind farm development sites, the available literature and data for the species, and our scientific expertise, we conclude that construction and operation of these two proposed wind farm developments must obtain incidental take authorization from the [US Fish and Wildlife Service], and in the process of obtaining such authorization must demonstrate that the construction and operation of these proposed wind development projects would not jeopardize the species, as that term is defined by the ESA.