An agreement was reached among all parties involved in federal litigation under the Endangered Species Act concerning the Beech Ridge wind project in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, that will provide for additional protection of the endangered Indiana bat and other wildlife while allowing some elements of the project to move forward.
The agreement, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, resolves outstanding federal litigation by setting forth protective conditions on which additional project construction and operation may occur while Beech Ridge applies for an Incidental Take Permit relative to the Indiana bat from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
Details of the agreement, which has been approved by the Court, can be viewed by clicking on the links in appearing at the bottom of this page. The key components of the agreement are as follows:
-The developers will permanently abandoned 31 turbines nearest the Indiana bat hibernacula (about 25% of the overall project);
-The developers committed to getting an incidental take permits and habitat conservation plan;
-Until the incidental take permit is granted (which will likely take about two years), no turbines may operate during nighttime except during winter when Indiana bats are hibernating;
-Bat and bird searches will occur regularly to ensure that no stray bats are being killed during daytime operation prior to issuance of an incidental take permit;
-Plaintiffs will play a role in the incidental take permit process, but will play a much more productive role than is typical because they will be involved from the beginning;
-If the Fish and Wildlife Service requests any further layout changes that could reduce the size of the project, the developer has agreed to live with the Service's decision;
-The developers have given up all appeal rights to the 4th Circuit; and
-The developers have given up their motion for reconsideration that was pending before Judge Titus.
Many believe that this project will set the bar for how wind companies must operate with regard to bats and other wildlife in the eastern U.S.