Great Plains Wind Energy HCP

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What is an HCP?     

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are developed if a non-federal entity wishes to voluntarily apply for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the Service, under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) ( ). The ESA provides protection for America's federally listed species. HCPs are a necessary and integral component of an application for an ITP.

An ITP is issued to non-federal entities engaged in otherwise lawful activities that could result in the take of a threatened or endangered species. “Take” is defined by the ESA as "to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct." In the case of wind energy development, a species could be harmed or killed if they collide with a wind turbine, and there may be other indirect impacts as well, such as habitat fragmentation, that, in some instances, might rise to the level of “take.”

To obtain an ITP, an applicant must submit an HCP with measures that the applicant will implement to minimize and mitigate the impacts of the proposed incidental take of covered species, to the maximum extent practicable. The HCP must show that the “taking” is incidental to, not the purpose of, an otherwise lawful activity. If the Service determines that an applicant has satisfied all permitting criteria and other statutory (legal) requirements, they issue an ITP to the applicant.

An HCP includes:

  • Background on the biological needs of the covered species (i.e., habitat, food, breeding and wintering areas);
  • Assessment of “take” (harm) from the proposed action (WEWAG’s wind energy development) on the covered species;
  • A conservation program describing minimization and mitigation measures for the potential take of each covered species; and
  • Monitoring and reporting system to ensure compliance with the ITP and effectiveness of the conservation program.