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BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES - Contra Costa County

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					                                                                                                    8
                                                     BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


EXISTING SETTING

APPLICABLE LAWS AND ORDINANCES
This section provides an overview of the laws and regulations that influence biological resources.

California Department of Fish and Game
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has jurisdiction over all fish, wildlife, and plant
species and their habitats, including species listed as threatened or endangered under the California
Endangered Species Act. Proponents of a project affecting a state-listed species are required to
consult with DFG, which issues a management authorization and incidental take permit under
Section 2081 of the California Fish and Game Code.

DFG also regulates activities that interfere with the natural flow of or substantially alter the channel,
bed, or bank of a lake, river, or stream. These activities are regulated under California Fish and
Game Code Section 1601 for public agencies and Section 1603 for private entities. Requirements to
protect the integrity of biological resources and water quality are often conditions of streambed
alteration agreements.

While DFG does not specifically regulate the discharge of fill material into wetlands (or waters of
the state), impacts on these sensitive habitats could be considered significant under the California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), depending on the magnitude of impact. DFG, as a trustee
agency under CEQA, could require mitigation if the project results in significant impacts to
wetlands.

Federal Endangered Species Act
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has jurisdiction over species listed as threatened or
endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Section 9 of the ESA protects listed
species from take, which is broadly defined as actions to “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound,
kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct.” For any project involving a
federal agency in which a listed species could be affected, the federal agency must consult the
USFWS in accordance with Section 7 or Section 10 of the ESA. Under Section 7, the USFWS issues


DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                                PAGE 8-1
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


a biological opinion (BO) and, if the project does not jeopardize the continued existence of the listed
species, issues an incidental take permit. When no federal context is present, proponents of a
project affecting a listed species may voluntarily apply for an incidental take permit under Section 10
of the ESA. Section 10 requires an applicant to submit a habitat conservation plan (HCP) that
specifies project impacts and mitigation measures.

Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) prohibits the taking, killing, possession, transportation, and
importation of migratory birds, their eggs, parts, and nests, except when specifically authorized by
the Department of the Interior. While the MBTA has no provision for allowing unauthorized take,
it is recognized that some birds may be killed at structures such as wind turbines even if all
reasonable measures to avoid bird collisions are implemented. The USFWS Office of Law
Enforcement carries out its mission to protect migratory birds not only through investigations and
enforcement, but also through fostering relationships with individuals and industries that proactively
seek to eliminate their impacts to migratory birds. While it is not possible under the MBTA to
absolve individuals or companies of liability, the Office of Law Enforcement and Department of
Justice have used enforcement and prosecutorial discretion in the past regarding individuals and
companies who have made good faith efforts to avoid take of migratory birds.

Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
The Bald Eagle Protection Act was passed in 1940 to protect bald eagles and was later amended to
include golden eagles. Under the act it is unlawful to import, export, take, sell, purchase, or barter
any bald eagle or golden eagle, their parts, products, nests, or eggs. Take includes pursuing,
shooting, poisoning, wounding, killing, capturing, trapping, collecting, molesting, or disturbing
eagles.

California Environmental Quality Act
CEQA was passed by the California Legislature in 1970 primarily as a means to force public agency
decision-makers to document and consider the environmental implications of their actions. CEQA
applies to any proposed project, meaning the “whole of an action” being proposed, public or
private, that may cause potentially significant environmental impacts. Project proponents must
strictly comply with CEQA, particularly its procedural requirements for environmental
documentation and public notification of actions being taken according to a CEQA schedule.

Project proponents must identify potentially significant environmental effects, such as direct,
indirect, or cumulative effects that are adverse to special-status species (e.g., threatened or
endangered species under federal or state Endangered Species Acts) or rare or sensitive resources.
Any such potentially significant effects must be mitigated or an alternative project selected in order
to avoid, minimize, reduce, or offset (compensate) the impacts to the degree that the decision-
makers can reasonably conclude the project’s effects will be less than significant, and so long as
these measures are feasible. CEQA standards are described in the California Code of Regulations, as


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                                                              CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


well as case law. Following the decision-makers’ certification of a Negative Declaration or
Environmental Impact Report, members of the public may petition the superior court requesting
that the court review the matter to determine whether the project proponent and the lead public
agency fully and adequately complied with CEQA, as well as with other state and federal laws and
local ordinances.

Section 404 of the Clean Water Act
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands,
under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Waters of the United States include wetlands,
lakes, rivers, streams, and their tributaries. Wetlands are defined for regulatory purposes as areas
“inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to
support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically
adapted for life in saturated soil conditions” (33 CFR 328.3; 40 CFR 230.3). Project proponents
must obtain a permit from USACE for all discharges of fill material into waters of the United States,
including wetlands, before proceeding with a proposed action.

A relatively recent federal ruling may affect whether wetlands on a project site are considered
jurisdictional by USACE (January 9, 2001 Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County
[SWANCC] ruling [SWANCC v. United States Army Corps of Engineers (121 S.CT. 675,2001)]).
Guidance on non-navigable, isolated [and] intrastate waters was published on January 19, 2001 by
Counsel for the EPA and USACE in response to the SWANCC ruling. The guidance essentially
resulted in the determination that non-navigable isolated waters may not be regulated by USACE.
As part of the wetland delineation and verification process (if avoidance of waters of the United
States is not possible), USACE will determine whether the wetlands are isolated and therefore not
regulated under Section 404 of the CWA.

Alkali meadows and streams/drainages present in the study area may qualify as waters of the United
States. If wetlands are jurisdictional and could be filled as part of the project, USACE may issue
either an individual permit or general permit. Individual permits are prepared on a project-specific
basis for projects that are expected to have adverse effects on the aquatic environment. If federally
listed species are associated with the wetlands, USACE is more likely to require an individual permit.
 General permits are prior-authorized permits issued to cover similar activities that are expected to
cause only minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects. Nationwide permits
(NWPs) are a type of general permit that have been issued to cover particular fill activities. NWPs
must conform to a set of general conditions for the permits to apply to a given project, as well as
specific conditions that apply to each NWP.

A Section 404 permit may not be required if the project avoids the discharge of any fill material into
waters of the United States, including wetlands. If the project cannot be designed to avoid discharge
of fill or excavating in waters of the United States, including wetlands, a Section 404 permit must be
obtained.



DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                               PAGE 8-3
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


The following conditions must be met as part of the Section 404 permitting process:

•   procurement of Section 401 water quality certification from the Regional Water Quality Control
    Board;

•   compliance with the federal ESA, involving consultation with USFWS, if the project is likely to
    jeopardize the continued existence of a threatened or endangered species or its critical habitat;
    and

•   compliance with the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Regional Water Quality Control Board
California Water Code Section 13260 requires “any person discharging waste, or proposing to
discharge waste, within any region that could affect the ‘waters of the state’ to file a report of
discharge (an application for waste discharge requirements).” Under the Porter-Cologne definition,
the term “waters of the state” is defined as “any surface water or groundwater, including saline
waters, within the boundaries of the state.” The recent SWANCC ruling described above has no
bearing on the Porter-Cologne definition. While all waters of the United States that are within the
borders of California are also waters of the state, the converse is not true: waters of the United
States are a subset of waters of the state. Thus, California retains authority to regulate discharges of
waste into any waters of the state, regardless of whether USACE has concurrent jurisdiction under
Section 404. If wetlands are not avoided as part of the project, Buena Vista will need to file an
application for waste discharge requirements with the Regional Water Quality Control Board
(RWQCB) regardless of the regulatory authority of the USACE.

Contra Costa County
Title 8 (Zoning) of the Contra Costa County Code zoning section defines a permitting process for
Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECs). Contra Costa County adopted this ordinance to
promote the effective and efficient use of WECs; to regulate their placement; and to implement
safeguards to ensure that public health, safety, and welfare are protected. Section 88-3 of the
County Code states that a land use permit granted by the County Zoning Administrator is necessary
for the commercial operation of WECs.

Contra Costa and Alameda Counties (the Counties) have jointly formulated a Wind Energy
Repowering Program for the APWRA. In conjunction with the specific repowering proposals
considered in the Repowering Program, the Counties identified what they consider an
environmentally superior approach to developing and repowering the existing wind farms within
their borders. The Repowering Program is a set of guidelines that the counties created to guide the
repowering process in this environmentally superior direction. It consists of the following elements:




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                                                            CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


•   limitations on development,

•   design standards and siting criteria,

•   permit submittal requirements,

•   standard conditions of approval, and

•   a Biological Resources Management Plan (BRMP).

Each element incorporates the mitigation measures recommended in the EIR prepared for the
Repowering Program, and crafts design standards and development limitations to implement those
measures. The program is intended to be an administrative tool for use by county planning agencies
and project applicants to navigate the conditional use permit process. It is anticipated that the
program will be reassessed and refined once sufficient data from the BRMP’s monitoring
requirement becomes available.


ENVIRONMENTAL SETTING
Information on vegetation and wildlife is based on the following primary sources:

•   a review of pertinent literature,

•   previous studies conducted in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA),

•   a survey of the California Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG’s) Natural Diversity Database,

•   contact with knowledgeable individuals,

•   a reconnaissance field survey of the Project Area,

•   special-status species surveys,

•   relevant material from the 1998 Repowering Program EIR, and

•   supplemental studies and research conducted since the time the Repowering Program EIR was
    certified.

Potential impacts of the proposed Project are assessed using information from these sources.
Assessment of avian mortality relies primarily on studies conducted since 1998.




DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                          PAGE 8-5
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area
The Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) is a 50,000-acre area of open land situated in the
interior Central Coast Range east of Livermore. The region is characterized by rolling foothills of
annual grassland. The area is mostly treeless, with relatively steep terrain in the west to gently rolling
hills in the east toward the floor of the Central Valley. Interspersed in the lowlands throughout
these foothills are drainages and stock ponds. Some drainages are fed by seeps that promote the
formation of alkali wetlands in the valley bottoms. Scattered sandstone rock outcrops are present on
the hill slopes and ridges in the northwestern part of the APWRA. Several deeply incised
intermittent creeks also are located in the valley bottoms and support strings of marsh, willow scrub,
or cottonwood-willow riparian woodland.

The APWRA grassland and agricultural areas provide abundant habitat for rodents, including
ground squirrels and pocket gophers. Trees are almost nonexistent except along a few watercourses.
 Small groups of non-native trees, mostly eucalyptus, also exist at homestead sites. The scattered
stock ponds and other wetlands are sources of water and breeding habitat for reptiles and
amphibians and are essential in maintaining much of the current wildlife community in the APWRA.

Rock outcrops are also important, providing breeding sites for a variety of birds and mammals.

Raptors (i.e., hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls) are relatively abundant and the most conspicuous
wildlife group in the APWRA. Their large numbers are due to abundant prey found in the
grasslands, the strong winds in the APWRA that provide updrafts and increased foraging efficiency,
and because the APWRA is relatively low in elevation and may serve as a raptor migratory route
(California Department of Fish and Game 1983, Jones and Stokes Associates and EDAW 1975).

Topographic relief varies greatly in the Altamont Pass area. North of I-580, elevations range from
250 feet above sea level in the valley bottoms to 1,200 feet above sea level along the tallest
ridgelines. South of I-580, elevations range from 600 feet to 1,500 feet above sea level. The average
difference between hilltops and valleys within the APWRA is approximately 450 feet (Howell 1990).

The region is characterized by a Mediterranean climate, with cool, wet winters averaging 14 inches of
precipitation, and warm, dry summers. Fog occurs in the APWRA, originating from coastal fog
during summer and from Central Valley tule fog during the winter.

Buena Vista Project Site
The Project will take place on a 2,500-acre property, referred to in this document as the Project
Area, located in the northeastern corner of the APWRA, immediately west of Byron Hot Springs
Road and immediately north of the Alameda/Contra Costa County line. The land is currently used
for wind power generation and livestock grazing. Extensive networks of gravel roads provide access
for livestock operations and to the existing wind turbines. The Project Area includes few trees.
Several caretaker buildings and introduced landscaping areas are located in the center of the site; the
majority of the property remains undeveloped.



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                                                               CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Pre-Field Investigation
Prior to conducting field studies, Jones and Stokes biologists conducted a records search of the
California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB 2003) and the California Native Plant Society’s
(CNPS’s) Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California (California Native Plant Society 2001) for
records of special-status species near the Project Area. The Repowering EIR (Alameda County
1998) and the associated BRMP, in addition to other environmental documents prepared for
projects in the region (including prior onsite surveys conducted when the WindMaster project was
first constructed), were also reviewed prior to field studies. The results of the records search and
literature review were used to develop a list of special-status wildlife and plant species with potential
to occur in the Project Area (available in the original Jones and Stokes report on file at the Contra
Costa County Community Development Department).

Field Surveys
Jones and Stokes conducted a reconnaissance-level survey for special-status plants and/or their
habitats on June 27, 2003. Detailed botanical surveys were not conducted at that time because most
of the special-status plants with potential to occur in the region bloom from March to May.
Detailed follow-up botanical surveys were conducted in March and May 2004 by Jones & Stokes
botanists, who walked transects through the Project Area and recorded all species encountered to
the level necessary to determine if they were special-status species or species with significant range
extensions. Survey coverage comprised all areas proposed for Project activities, as well as a buffer
area of approximately 200 feet surrounding Project features. No special-status plant populations
were located during the survey.

Concurrent with the 2003 reconnaissance-level botanical survey, the botanist/wetland ecologist
conducted a survey for areas that could qualify as waters of the United States, including wetlands.
This survey was conducted by searching for observable wetland characteristics (i.e., the presence of
ponding or standing water, saturated soils, and wetland plants [hydrophytic species]) (Environmental
Laboratory 1987). A wetland delineation suitable for submittal to USACE pursuant to Section 404
of the CWA was not conducted as part of this study because no fill activities are anticipated as part
of the proposed project.

Jones and Stokes wildlife biologists conducted field surveys for special-status wildlife species
throughout the Project Area on July 9, 10, 15, 16, and 18, 2003. The field surveys focused primarily
on evaluating the potential for occurrence of San Joaquin kit fox. However, the biologists also
documented the presence of individuals or suitable habitat for Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos),
Western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), White-tailed kite (Elanus leucurus), Tricolored blackbird
(Agelaius tricolor), California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii), California tiger salamander
(Ambystoma californiense), and listed freshwater invertebrates (Branchinecta spp.). Protocol-level den
searches for San Joaquin kit fox and Burrowing owl were conducted within 250 feet of all Project
features shown in the original site plan. All detections of special-status wildlife species within 0.5
mile of all Project features were recorded.




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CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Several comprehensive avian use, behavior, and mortality surveys have been conducted in the
APWRA. The Repowering Program relied upon several studies conducted within the APWRA in
the early to mid 1990’s (e.g., Orloff and Flannery 1992, Orloff and Flannery 1996, Howell 1997).
Several additional comprehensive and multi-year studies have been conducted since the publication
of the Repowering EIR (Hunt 2002, Thelander et al. 2003, Smallwood and Thelander 2004). These
studies provide the primary basis for describing the wildlife and associated impacts of the proposed
project.

Biological communities on the Project Area are described below, followed by a discussion of special-
status species known or with potential to occur on the site. Scientific names of plant species
observed in each community and wildlife species observed during the field surveys are also provided
in this section. Scientific names of species used in this report follow those used in The Jepson Manual
(Hickman 1993).

Biological Communities
Four biological communities are present in the Project Area. The classification system for the
biological communities follows that used in the Repowering EIR to allow cross-referencing with
that document. Although the proposed Project will primarily affect previously disturbed annual
grassland adjacent to existing turbines (with only a small amount of new disturbance), biological
communities in the general area of the proposed Project are described to provide an overview of the
Project Area. The general locations of sensitive biological communities and/or habitats (i.e., alkali
meadows, stock ponds, and streams/drainages) are shown in Figure 8-1.




PAGE 8-8                                         DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
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                                                                                                                                                                        SPRINGS RD




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                                                                                                                                                FACILITY




                                    STRING A
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              STRING V
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                                                                                                                                                           500'   0    500'




        Project Boundary   M New Turbine                              Blueline Streams                                    NOTE: Existing turbines in locations where
                           X Removed Turbines                                                                                   new turbines are proposed are not shown
                                                                      Alkali Meadow (boundaries are approximate)
                              Turbines Owned by Others
                                                                      Stock Ponds




                                                                                                                                                      SOURCE: Jones & Stokes
Figure 8-1
Locations of Sensitive Biological Communities
                              This page intentionally left blank.




DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                         PAGE 8-10
Annual Grassland
Annual grasslands are the most common biological community in the Project Area, occurring at or
near all areas proposed for Project activities. These grasslands are dominated by nonnative annual
grass species such as Slender wild oats (Avena barbata), Ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus), Soft chess
(Bromus hordaceus), and Italian rye (Lolium multiflorum). Native grasses are sparse but include Purple
needlegrass (Nasella pulchra) and fescues (Vulpia spp.). Annual grassland in the Project Area also
supports a large number of forbs including lupines (Lupinus spp.), filaree (Erodium spp.), fiddleneck
(Amsinckia spp.), and various other native perennial and annual forbs. The annual grasslands in the
Project Area are grazed by cattle for a portion of the year.

Alkali Meadow
Alkali meadow is uncommon in the Project Area, occurring only in flat or gently sloped valley
bottoms and around the edges of low-lying drainages on alkaline clay soils. Narrow strips of alkali
meadow commonly surround most drainages and stock ponds in the Project Area and occur in
several large patches on the north end of the Project Area. This community supports halophytic
herbaceous plants such as Saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), Baltic rush (Juncus balticus), Alkali heath
(Frankenia salina), Seepweed (Suaeda mouguinii), atriplex (Atriplex spp.) and Large-flowered
sandspurrey (Spergularia macrotheca). Alkali meadow is considered a sensitive natural community by
DFG and has several known locations in the Project Area mapped and included in the CNDDB. In
addition, it often provides habitat for several special-status plants known to occur in the region. The
general locations of alkali meadow are shown in Figure 8-1 (note: streams/drainages shown in
Figure 8-1 support a small amount of alkali meadow habitat on their edges although it is not shown
in the figure due to the scale of the map). In addition to its status as a sensitive natural community
and its importance as special-status species habitat, alkali meadow may also qualify as a water of the
United States under Section 404 of the CWA.

Stock Pond
Stock ponds are small permanent or seasonal bodies of water constructed to retain runoff water for
livestock use. Surface area of these features varies widely depending on the time of year. In the
Project Area, stock ponds are located in low-lying drainages and valley bottoms, and therefore the
vegetation surrounding these features is typically dominated by the species described above for alkali
meadow. Since some stock ponds are perennial or nearly perennial, some perennial wetland species
are also present, including cattails and tules. The general locations of stock ponds in the Project
Area are shown in Figure 8-1.

Although stock ponds are not considered to be sensitive natural communities by DFG, they do
support the conditions necessary for several special-status species known to occur in the area, and
would therefore be considered sensitive from that standpoint. In addition, they would also likely
qualify as waters of the United States under Section 404 of the CWA.




DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                             PAGE 8-11
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Creeks and Drainages
Creeks and drainages are uncommon in the Project Area, occurring in low-lying areas and valley
bottoms. One named creek, Brushy Creek, is located in the Project Area along Vasco Road. Several
other streams that are shown as “blue-line” streams on USGS topographic maps are also present in
the Project Area. These blue-line streams typically possess only intermittent stream characteristics
(i.e., a defined bed and bank and/or scour), and may or may not be considered waters of the United
States under Section 404 of the CWA. Several road-side drainages specifically constructed to
remove and channel runoff from roads are also present in the Project Area. These features are not
likely to be considered waters of the United States because they are artificially created in uplands
solely for the purpose of transporting runoff water. The general locations of streams/drainages
(USGS blueline streams) are shown in Figure 8-1.

Wildlife
General wildlife characteristics are described in this section, with more detail provided for special-
status species in later sections. The APWRA and the Project site include the species assemblage and
richness of wildlife typical of annual grassland with wetland inclusions. Largely treeless, the gently
rolling foothills of the APWRA are covered predominantly with a non-native annual grassland
community. These grasses and forbs grow during the rainy months of November – April, and then
they die or go dormant by the beginning of June. Recently conducted comprehensive studies of
avian use, behavior, and mortality in the APWRA (Smallwood and Thelander 2004a) are used as the
primary sources for describing wildlife in the proposed project, supplemented by project-specific,
special-status species surveys and reconnaissance-level general wildlife use surveys conducted by
Jones and Stokes (2003). Table 8-1 describes the animal species observed in the APWRA during
research on bird collisions with wind turbines, May 1988 through May 2003, and within the Buena
Vista Project Area during 2003 Jones & Stokes field surveys.

Mammals

Common mammal species include California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi), Red fox (Vulpes
vulpes), Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), Coyote (Canis latrans), Pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae),
Pocket mouse (Perognathus sp.) Blacktail jackrabbit, (Lepus californicus), Desert cottontail (Sylvilagus
auduboni), Kangaroo rat (Dipodomys sp.), and California vole (Microtus californicus).

Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles that occur in the Project Area include Southern alligator lizard (Gerrhonotus multicarinatus),
Side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana), Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), Western skink
(Eumeces skiltonianus), Gilbert’s skink (Eumeces gilberti), Gopher snake (Pituophis melanoleucus), California
kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus), Western pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata), and Northern Pacific
rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis). Amphibians include California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii), Western toad (Bufo boreas), and Pacific treefrog (Hyla
regilla).



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 Birds
 Based on observations made between 1998 and 2003, approximately 60 bird species occur in the
 APWRA (Smallwood and Thelander 2004; Table 8-1). The most abundant species observed during
 the 1998 - 2000 surveys were Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura),
 Common raven (Corvus corax), Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), and American kestrel (Falco sparverius).
  Sightings of these species (n = 3,730) represented 70% of all bird observations.

 The Project Area supports one or more nesting populations of burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia).
 Barn owls (Tyto alba) and Great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) also frequent the area, but their total
 numbers in the area are unknown. Prairie falcons (Falco mexicanus) and Peregrine falcons (Falco
 peregrinus) occur in the central Coast Range region throughout the year, both as rare breeders and
 uncommon migrants. A nearby commercial landfill operation attracts thousands of gulls (Larus
 spp.) to the region. For the most part, they fly at high elevations to and from the landfill; rarely are
 they seen flying at elevations low enough to be affected by the wind turbines. This observation is
 substantiated by the relatively low number of gulls found dead near turbines.

 More common passerine species include Rock dove, European starling, Western meadowlark,
 Brewer’s blackbird, Red-winged blackbird, Horned lark, House finch, and Loggerhead shrike.
 Mallards are occasionally observed, often in association with the stock ponds.



                         Table 8-1: Wildlife Species Observed In The APWRA

             Species                        Scientific Name           Statusa, b   Recently Documented
                                                                                          Fatality

                 Birds
Turkey vulturec                  Cathartes aura                                              yes
Bald eagle                       Haliaeetus leucocephalus              FT, CE
Golden eagle                     Aquila chrysaetos                   CSC, CFP                yes
Red-tailed hawk                  Buteo jamaicensis                                           yes
Rough-legged hawk                Buteo lagopus
Ferruginous hawk                 Buteo regalis                        FSC, CSC               yes
Northern harrier                 Circus cyaneus                         CSC                  yes
White-tailed kite                Elanus leucurus                        CFP                  yes
Cooper’s hawk                    Accipiter cooperii                     CSC
Merlin                           Falco columbarius                      CSC
American kestrelc                Falco sparverius                                            yes
Prairie falcon                   Falco mexicanus                        CSC                  yes
Burrowing owl                    Athene cunicularia                     CSC                  yes


 DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                              PAGE 8-13
 CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES



                           Table 8-1: Wildlife Species Observed In The APWRA

               Species                         Scientific Name             Statusa, b   Recently Documented
                                                                                               Fatality

Great horned owl                   Bubo virginianus                                             yes
Barn owl                           Tyto alba                                                    yes
Common poorwill                    Phalaenoptilus nuttallii                                     yes
Great blue heronc                  Ardea herodias
Long-billed curlew                 Numenius americanus
Killdeerc                          Charadrius vociferus
California gull                    Larus californicus                        CSC                yes
Ring-billed gull                   Larus delawerensis                                           yes
American avocet                    Recurvirostra americana                                      yes
Cattle egret                       Bubulcus ibis                                                yes
Double-crested cormorant           Phalacrocorax auritus                     CSC                yes
Lesser yellowlegs                  Tringa flavipes                                              yes
Black-crowned night heron          Nycticorax nycticorax                     CSA                yes
Mallard                            Anas platyrhynchos                                           yes
Ring-necked duck                   Aythya collaris                                              yes
Common Goldeneye                   Bucephala clangula
Ruddy duck                         Oxyura jamaicensis
Wild turkey                        Melleagris gallopavo                                         yes
Common      ravenc                 Corvus corax                                                 yes
American crowc                     Corvus brachyrhynchos                                        yes
Northern flicker                   Colaptes auratus                                             yes
Loggerhead shrike                  Lanius ludovicianus                                          yes
Western kingbird                   Tyrannus verticalis                                          yes
Pacific-slope flycatcher           Empidonax difficilis                                         yes
Say’s phoebe                       Sayornis saya
Northern mockingbird               Mimus polyglottos                                            yes
Mourning    dovec                  Zenaida macroura                                             yes
Rock dove                          Columba livia                                                yes
Band-tailed pigeon                 Columba fasciata
Mountain bluebird                  Sialia currucoides                                           yes
Violet-green swallow               Tachycineta thalassina                                       yes
Barn swallowd                      Hirundo rustica


 PAGE 8-14                                                 DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                                  CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES



                          Table 8-1: Wildlife Species Observed In The APWRA

               Species                          Scientific Name         Statusa, b   Recently Documented
                                                                                            Fatality

Cliff swallow                     Petrochelidon pyrrhonota                                   yes
Brewer’s    blackbirdd            Euphagus cyanocephalus                                     yes
Red-winged blackbirdd             Agelaius phoeniceus                                        yes
Brown-headed cowbird              Molothrus ater                                             yes
Tricolored blackbird              Agelaius tricolor                    FSC, CSC              yes
Western meadowlarkd               Sturnella neglecta                                         yes
California horned larkc           Eremophila alpestris actia              CSC                yes
Yellow warbler                    Dendroica petechia brewsteri            CSC                yes
Savannah sparrow                  Passerculus sandwichensis                                  yes
House sparrow                     Passer domesticus                                          yes
House finch                       Carpodacus mexicanus                                       yes
European starling                 Sturnus vulgaris                                           yes
Cockatiel                         Leptolophus hollandicus                                    yes
             Mammals
Hoary bat                         Lasiurus cinereus                                          yes
Red fox                           Vulpes vulpes
Gray fox                          Urocyon cinereoargenteus
Coyote                            Canis latrans
Bobcat                            Felis rufus
Long-tailed weasel                Mustela frenata
American badger                   Taxidea taxus                           CSC
California ground squirrelc       Spermophilus beecheyi
Botta’s pocket gopher             Thomomys bottae
Kangaroo rat sp.                  Dipodomys sp.
Pocket mouse sp.                  Perognathus sp.
California vole                   Microtus Californicus
Muskrat                           Ondatra zibethica
Blacktail jackrabbit              Lepus californicus
Desert cottontail                 Sylvilagus auduboni
              Reptiles
Southern alligator lizard         Gerrhonotus multicarinatus



 DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                               PAGE 8-15
    CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES



                          Table 8-1: Wildlife Species Observed In The APWRA

                Species                            Scientific Name                   Statusa, b       Recently Documented
                                                                                                             Fatality

Side-blotched lizard                    Uta stansburiana
Western fence lizard                    Sceloporus occidentalis
Western skink                           Eumeces skiltonianus
Gilbert’s skink                         Eumeces gilberti
Gopher snake                            Pituophis melanoleucus
California kingsnake                    Lampropeltis getulus
Northern Pacific rattlesnake            Crotalus viridis
           Amphibians
California tiger salamander             Ambystoma californiense                     FC, CSC
California red-legged frog              Rana aurora draytonii                       FT, CSC
Western toad                            Bufo boreas
Pacific treefrog                        Hyla regilla
a
   FE = Federal Endangered, FT = Federal threatened, FC = Federal candidate for listing, FSC = Federal species of
concern, CE = California Endangered, CT = California threatened, CSA, California Special Animal, CFP = California
Fully Protected, CSC = California Department of Fish and Game listing of California Species of Concern
b
   Most of the bird species in this list are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
c Birds observed during 1998-2003 CEC and NREL studies and during 2003 J&S surveys
d Species only observed during 2003 J&S surveys




    PAGE 8-16                                                     DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                        CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES




               Table 8-2. Location of Potential San Joaquin Kit Fox Burrows
                                                     Distance from
 Burrow                                  Elevation   Turbine or
 Number      X UTM (m)*    Y UTM (m)*    (ft.)       Access Road (ft.)   Comment
 KF01        621176        4185007       124         150
 KF02        621139        4184963       104         180
 KF03        621078        4185076       110         120
 KF04        621021        4184871       161         60
 KF05        621001        4185071       158         200
 KF06        619282        4184057       751         150                 Possible badger burrow
 KF07        619149        4184202       822                             2 adjacent burrows
 KF08        619127        4184296       817                             Active Ca. ground squirrel
 KF09        618800        4184108       762         100
 KF10        618567        4184366       817         100
 KF11        618543        4184404       840         10
 KF12        618579        4184442       808         160
 KF13        618532        4184329       774         180
 KF14        618610        4184359       842         160
 KF15        618547        4184520       704         0                   Culvert under road
 KF16        618165        4185226       356         0                   Culvert under road
 KF17        618191        4185129       377         150
 KF18        618240        4185053       419         140                 2 adjacent burrows
 KF19        618304        4184940       432         130
 KF20        618345        4184847       480         210
 KF30        618536        4184837       616
 KF31        617822        4185246       507                             Culvert
 KF32        617770        4185139       559         100
 KF33        617757        4184752       623         100                 In rock outcrop
 KF34        617790        4184730       583         250
 KF35        617785        4184755       611         200
 KF36        617860        4185213       493         200
 KF37        617691        4185049       579         120
 KF38        617412        4184781       679         120
 KF39        617827        4184233       758         200
 KF40        617455        4184419       804         210
 KF41        617783        4184146       723         230
 KF42        617819        4184162       747         150
 KF43        617443        4185285       656                             4” PVC pipes lying on
                                                                         ground
 KF44        616887        4185888       516         180                 2 adjacent burrows, coyote
                                                                         scat present
 KF45        617201        4185768       453         200
 KF46        617577        4186107       218         50
 KF47        617494        4186070       270         100
 KF48        618263        4185642       333         20
 KF49        618472        4185650       286         15



DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                         PAGE 8-17
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


                 Table 8-2. Location of Potential San Joaquin Kit Fox Burrows
                                                           Distance from
 Burrow                                        Elevation   Turbine or
 Number        X UTM (m)*       Y UTM (m)*     (ft.)       Access Road (ft.)   Comment
 KF50          619164           4186014        273         10
 KF51          618787           4186038        206         220
 KF52          618834           4185975        221         100
 KF53          619021           4186140        233         20
 * Projection System = NAD83

Special-Status Species
Lists of special-status wildlife and plants potentially occurring in the Project Area were developed
based on a review of the Repowering EIR, CNDDB records, recent comprehensive studies funded
by NREL and CEC, and Jones and Stokes’ experience in the region. The species lists in the EIR
were used as a starting point and, because they are several years old and were prepared for a larger
geographic area than this Project encompasses, were updated and refined to produce lists specifically
for this project. The list includes all special-status species known to potentially occur in the
Altamont Pass region, including any species observed as a fatality during recent studies.

A discussion of the status and occurrence or potential occurrence in the Project Area for each
wildlife species is provided below. Locations of special-status wildlife species observed during the
field surveys are shown in Figure 8-2.

San Joaquin Kit Fox
The San Joaquin kit fox is listed federally as endangered and state-listed as a threatened species. It
inhabits semiarid communities of the San Joaquin Valley and adjacent foothill grasslands and open
canopied woodlands (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1997). Several records of San Joaquin kit fox
exist for the APWRA, with recent records within 2 miles of the Project site (CNDDB data, per
Larry Butcher). Wildlife biologists documented 44 burrows within the Project work area and buffer
zone that could potentially be used by San Joaquin kit fox, based on dimensions of the burrow
(Figure 8-3 and Table 8-1). The work area was defined as those areas most likely to be physically
disturbed during Project construction and operation as shown in the original site plan, and was
arbitrarily within 20 feet of Project features such as turbines and access roads. Of the 44 burrows
with characteristics suitable for San Joaquin kit fox, 37 were in the buffer area, and seven were in the
work area. Of the seven burrows in the work area, three were culverts under roads, one was a piece
of PVC pipe left on the ground in the Project Area, and three were natural burrows approximately
10, 15, and 20 feet from tower pads or access roads




PAGE 8-18                                         DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
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                                                RAPTOR                         GOEA
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                                                                                                                                                          O&M
                                                                                                                                                       FACILITY

                                                                                                               BAOW

                                   STRING A                  BUOW
                                                              STRING C

                                                                                                                                                                                   NTY
                                             SWHA                                                                                                                              COU
                                                                                                                                                                           STA
                                                                                                                                                                       A CO      Y
                                                                                                                                                                  CONTR     OUNT
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              STRING V
                                                                                                         STRING P



                                                                                                                                                                  500'   0    500'




        Project Boundary   M New Turbine                              Special-Status Bird Sighting Locations                     NOTE: Existing turbines in locations where
                                                              BAOW    Barn Owl                                                         new turbines are proposed are not shown
                           X Removed Turbines
                              Turbines Owned by Others        BUOW    Burrowing Owl
                                                              GOEA    Golden Eagle
                                                               RTHA   Red-Tailed Hawk
                                                              SWHA    Swainson's Hawk


                                                                                                                                                             SOURCE: Jones & Stokes
Figure 8-2
Locations of Special-Status Bird Sightings
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                                    KF46                                                                      KF53
                                  KF47
                                                                                              KF51                   KF50
                 KF44                                                                          KF52




                                           AD
                           KF45




                                         RO
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                                                                    KF48
                                                                                       KF49




                                SC
                              VA
                                     KF43       KF31
                                                                         KF16
                                                          KF36
                                                   KF32          KF17
                                         KF37                                                                                                                       O&M
                                                                  KF18                                                                                           FACILITY          KF03

                                                                    KF19                                                                                                    KF05             KF01
                                                                                        KF30                                                                                                 KF02
                                     STRING A                           KF20
                           KF38                        KF35
                                           KF33                     STRING C                                                                                                       KF04
                                                   KF34

                                                                                                                                                                                             NTY
                                                                                KF15                                                                                                     COU
                                                                                                     KF12                                                                            STA
                                                                                                                                                                                 A CO      Y
                                                                                                                                                                            CONTR     OUNT
                            KF40                                          KF11                                                                                                     A C
                                                                                                                                                                                MED
                                                                                                                                                                             ALA
              STRING V                                                      KF10
                                                                                          KF14                  STRING P
                                                     KF39                       KF13                            KF08
                                                                                                                KF07
                                           KF41      KF42                                            KF09
                                                                                                                      KF06
                                                                                                                                                                            500'   0      500'




        Project Boundary   M New Turbine                                 Potential Kit Fox Burrow Locations                                NOTE: Existing turbines in locations where
                           X Removed Turbines                                                                                                    new turbines are proposed are not shown

                              Turbines Owned by Others




                                                                                                                                                                       SOURCE: Jones & Stokes
Figure 8-3
Locations of Potential Kit Fox Burrows
                              This page intentionally left blank.




DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                         PAGE 8-22
No San Joaquin kit fox, or sign of San Joaquin kit fox presence, was observed during surveys.
Because the survey area is within the range of the San Joaquin kit fox and potential burrows are
present, additional measures (described below in the Mitigation section) are required prior to Project
construction.

San Joaquin Pocket Mouse
The San Joaquin pocket mouse (Perognathus inornatus) occurs in dry, open, and arid annual grasslands,
savanna, and desert-shrub associations with sandy washes or finely textured soil. It is listed by the
USFWS as a species of special concern. Although this species is known to occur in the vicinity of
the Project Area, most suitable habitat in the Project Area is limited to small patches of relatively
sandy, friable soils. Some potential San Joaquin pocket mouse burrows were observed during recent
studies within the APWRA (Smallwood pers. comm.).

American Badger
The American badger (Taxidae taxus) is an uncommon, permanent resident found throughout most
of the state, with the exception of the northern area of the North Coast. The American badger is
listed as a species of special concern in California. The badger is most abundant in grassland and the
drier, more open successional stages of shrub, forest, and herbaceous habitats with friable soils. No
individuals were observed during surveys in the Project Area by Jones and Stokes biologists,
although NREL and CEC researchers observed American badgers on multiple occasions between
1998 and 2003 within the APWRA. Suitable habitat for this species is abundant in the Project Area.

Golden Eagle
The Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is federally protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle
Protection Act, is listed as a species of special concern in California, and is a “fully protected”
species under the California Fish and Game Code. Golden eagles nest on cliffs and escarpments or
in tall trees overlooking open country, and forage over annual grasslands, chaparral, and oak
woodlands with plentiful medium- and large-sized mammals. Golden eagles are abundant in the
vicinity of the Project Area and were observed flying over the Project Area many times by NREL
and CEC researchers (see Figure 8-2). Golden eagle mortality from wind turbines in the APWRA is
well-documented (Orloff and Flannery 1992, Hunt 2002, Smallwood and Thelander 2004). Most
mortality is of subadults and floaters with few juveniles and few breeding adults killed (Hunt 2002).
Short-term effects of human-caused mortality on this population were not apparent. However, long
term impacts of juvenile and floater mortality on this local population as well as on the larger
regional metapopulation are unknown, but of high concern (Hunt 2002). The recently estimated
range of annual Golden eagle mortality is 75 to 116 birds per year throughout the APWRA,
assuming 5,400 wind turbines are operating (Smallwood and Thelander 2004). During six months
of study at operating turbines at Buena Vista, one Golden eagle fatality was discovered at turbine
H4, which will be removed, and no new turbines will be located near this string. Two Golden eagles
were reported through the WRRS, one in 2000 and one in 2002, both at turbines within the G-
string, which will be removed.


DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                            PAGE 8-23
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Burrowing Owl
The Burrowing owl is a federal species of concern and a state species of special concern. Burrowing
owls live throughout California in sparse grassland and desert habitats, and are known to occur in
the vicinity of the Project Area. Abundant nesting habitat in the form of rodent burrows is present
throughout the Project Area. During the CEC studies, several burrowing owls were seen in the
Project Area (Smallwood, pers. Comm.). Two occupied burrows were detected within 20 feet of an
access road (see Figure 8-2 and Table 8-2). Only one owl was observed associated with these two
burrows, and neither burrow was being used for nesting. Two other Burrowing owls were noted in
the vicinity of the Project Area near main arterial roads. During a site visit in 2004, several adult and
juvenile owls were observed within one mile of the turbine string north of Vasco Road along
Howden Road. Burrowing owls were the second most abundant raptor fatality observed during
recent studies (Smallwood and Thelander 2004), although the researchers concluded that new
generation turbines are not likely to pose a large threat to burrowing owls so long as the blades are
sufficiently high above the ground. Two burrowing owl fatalities were reported during the recent six
months of study at Buena Vista, both at turbines proposed for removal (G2 and F4). As discussed
in the Mitigation section, pre-construction surveys for Burrowing owls will be required no more than
30 days prior to construction.

American Peregrine Falcon
The American peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum) is state-listed as endangered. Peregrine
falcons nest on cliffs or escarpments, usually adjacent to lakes, rivers, or marshes that support large
prey populations. There is no nesting habitat in the immediate vicinity of the Project Area, and the
species is very unlikely to occur there except as transients during migration (primarily in April - May
and September - October). No individuals were seen in the Project Area during the surveys and no
fatalities have been reported during studies in the APWRA (Howell and Didonato 1991, Orloff and
Flannery 1992, Orloff and Flannery 1996, Howell 1997, Smallwood and Thelander 2004).

Prairie Falcon
The Prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus) is listed as a species of special concern in California. Prairie
falcons nest on cliffs or escarpments, usually overlooking dry, open terrain or uplands. The NREL
and CEC researchers observed Prairie falcons in the APWRA multiple times between 1998 and
2003. Three fatalities were reported at wind turbines in the APWRA (Smallwood and Thelander
2004). Elsewhere, one Prairie falcon fatality was reported at the Foote Creek Rim Wind Project in
Wyoming (Young et al. 2003).

Northern Harrier
The Northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) is listed as a species of special concern in California. It inhabits
grasslands, meadows, marshes, and seasonal and agricultural wetlands. Suitable foraging habitat is
present throughout the area. Northern harriers were observed occasionally and three fatalities were
found during the recent CEC and NREL studies in the APWRA. One Northern harrier fatality was
also reported at the Foote Creek Rim Wind Project in Wyoming (Young et al. 2003).


PAGE 8-24                                          DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                               CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Swainson’s Hawk
Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni) is state-listed as threatened. It nests in oaks and cottonwoods in or
near riparian habitats and forages in grasslands, irrigated pastures, and grain fields. Swainson’s
hawks breed almost exclusively on the Valley floor and are rare in the vicinity of the Project Area.
However, one individual was observed foraging near the southwestern portion of the Project Area
during the surveys by Jones and Stokes biologists (see Figure 8-2). Swainson’s hawks were
infrequently observed during the recent CEC studies, and no fatalities were reported. However, one
Swainson’s hawk fatality had been previously reported (Howell 1997). Swainson’s hawk fatalities
have also been observed at Tehachapi Pass WRA (Anderson et al. 2004a), and at the Stateline Wind
Project in Oregon and Washington (Erickson et al. 2004).

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis) is a federal species of concern and a state species of special concern.
It inhabits open terrain in plains and foothills where ground squirrels and other prey are available.
This species does not breed in California, but is an uncommon winter visitor in many portions of
the state. This species occurs occasionally during winter in the Project Area. Two Ferruginous
hawk fatalities were observed recently during the CEC study in the APWRA. In addition, one
Ferruginous hawk fatality each was reported at the APWRA (Orloff and Flannery 1992), at
Tehachapi Pass (Erickson et al. 2001), and at Stateline Oregon/Washington (Erickson et al. 2004).

Bald Eagle
Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was federally listed as threatened but has now been formally
proposed for de-listing. It is listed as endangered under the CESA. Bald eagles nest in coniferous
forests, typically within one mile of a lake, reservoir, or stream. Its winter range includes all of
California except the southeastern deserts, very high altitudes in the Sierra Nevada, and east of the
Sierra Nevada south of Mono County. No nesting habitat is present in the Project Area or vicinity
and this species is unlikely to occur except as a transient during migration. Bald eagles were
occasionally observed at the Los Vaqueros Reservoir during recent studies (Smallwood pers.
comm.). We are unaware of any bald eagle fatalities reported at any wind energy facility.

California Brown Pelican
California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) is a federally and state-listed endangered
species. It is typically found on coastal salt water, beaches, bays, marshes, and on the open ocean
and is most numerous within a few miles of shore throughout the year. Nesting is restricted to
islands in the Gulf of California and along the outer North American coast from Baja California to
West Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands in Southern California. Non-breeding California brown
pelicans range northward along the Pacific Coast from the Gulf of California to Washington and
southern British Columbia. Given the distance of the APWRA from the coast, California brown
pelicans would be extremely rare near the APWRA, although one brown pelican fatality has been
reported (Howell and Didonato 1991). The cause of death was listed as unknown in the report, but



DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                               PAGE 8-25
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


the fatality was located close to a turbine. No brown pelicans were observed during the studies in
the APWRA.

California Condor
California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) were listed as endangered under the Federal Endangered
Species Act on March 11, 1967. As of July 1 2004, 248 California Condors exist, 149 in captivity,
and 99 in the wild. Forty-seven are in California, with 24 part of the Central California population.
The release location for the Central California population is at Pinnacles National Monument,
located approximately 100 miles south of the Project Area. The condors have been observed as far
north as 5 miles south of the Alameda County line, approximately 25 miles south of the Project
Area.

White-Tailed Kite
White-tailed kite (Elanus leucurus) is considered a fully protected species under the California Fish and
Game Code. It occurs in low foothills or valley areas with valley or live oaks, riparian areas, and
marshes near open grasslands for foraging. Nesting and foraging habitat for White-tailed kites is
marginal in and adjacent to the Project Area. However, one fatality was observed in the APWRA
during recent studies (Smallwood et al. 2004), and two White-tailed kite fatalities were observed at
the High Winds Facility in Solano County (L. Butcher pers. comm.)

Tricolored Blackbird
Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) is a federal species of concern and a species of special concern
in California. It nests in dense colonies in emergent marsh vegetation, such as tules and cattails, or
upland sites with blackberries, nettles, thistles, or grainfields. There is no suitable nesting habitat for
tri-colored blackbird in the Project Area. However, NREL and CEC researchers observed
tricolored blackbirds in the APWRA (and videotaped them), and one was reported as a fatality
during the CEC study.

California Horned Lark
California horned lark (Eremophila alpestris actia) is a California species of species concern. It is a
common to abundant resident in a variety of open habitats, usually where trees and large shrubs are
absent. California horned lark was one of the most abundant passerines observed during the recent
avian use surveys at the APWRA, and one of the most abundant passerine fatalities with estimates of
approximately 23 to 116 fatalities per annum for the 5400 turbines in existence. Horned larks have
also been one of the most commonly observed bird and one of the most commonly observed
fatalities in grassland and agricultural settings in the Pacific Northwest (Erickson et al. 2004).

Cooper’s Hawk
Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) is a California species of special concern. This accipiter is a
permanent breeding resident throughout most wooded areas of California. They breed in the


PAGE 8-26                                          DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                                CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


southern Sierra Nevada foothills, the New York Mountains, and the Owens Valley, as well as other
areas in southern California. They occur at elevations from sea level to above 9000 feet. They
prefer dense stands of live oaks, riparian deciduous, or other forest habitats near water.
Observations in the APWRA are rare and no fatalities have been documented in the APWRA
(Smallwood and Thelander 2004) or at other wind projects (Erickson et al. 2002).

Merlin
Merlin (Falco columbarius) is an uncommon winter migrant from September to May. Merlins frequent
coastlines, open grasslands, savannahs, woodlands, lakes, wetlands, edges, and early successional
stage habitats, but they are seldom found in heavily wooded areas or open deserts. Merlins are
found in habitats ranging from annual grasslands to ponderosa pine and montane hardwood-conifer
habitats. Numbers have declined markedly in California in recent decades. The CEC researchers
observed a Merlin flying through the APWRA on February 5, 2003. No fatalities have been reported
from any U.S. wind project (Erickson et al. 2002).

California Gull
California gull (Larus californicus) is a fairly common nester at alkali and freshwater lacustrine habitats
east of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, and is an abundant visitor to coastal and interior lowlands in
the nonbreeding season. This species was observed several times during surveys between 1998 and
2003, and is commonly observed near the landfill. Seven fatalities were documented during recent
studies (Smallwood and Thelander 2004).

Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed curlew is a California species of special concern because of declining numbers, probably
caused by agricultural practices. The Long-billed curlew is primarily a migrant and winter visitor in
the APWRA. No fatalities were observed, and only a few observations were made during recent
studies (Smallwood and Thelander 2004).

Curved-foot Hygrotus Diving Beetle
The Curved-foot hygrotus diving beetle (Hygrotus curvipes) is aquatic and occurs in small seasonal
pools and wetlands and small pools left in dry creek beds. It is also typically associated with alkaline
tolerant vegetation. Several occurrences of this species are known from near the Project Area and
suitable habitat occurs in the Project Area in stock ponds, drainages, and alkali meadows.

Longhorn Fairy Shrimp and Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp
The Longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna) is federally listed as endangered and the vernal
pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) is federally listed as threatened. They occur in vernal pools and
sandstone rock outcrop pools throughout the Central Valley and the eastern margin of the central
Coast Ranges. No habitat for these species was observed during the Jones and Stokes surveys.



DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                                 PAGE 8-27
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Fairy shrimp, unidentified to species, were documented in the APWRA during recent studies
(Smallwood and Thelander 2004) but were not located near the Buena Vista Project area.

Southwestern Pond Turtle
The Southwestern pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata pallida) is a federal species of concern and a
species of special concern in California. It inhabits aquatic habitats such as ponds, marshes, or
streams, with rocky or muddy bottoms and vegetation cover for food. There is apparently no
suitable habitat for this species in the Project Area.

California Red-Legged Frog
The California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii) is listed as threatened under the federal ESA
and is a state species of special concern. This species is known to occur in the Project Area, and
there are several records from the CNDDB along Brushy Creek and its tributaries. Partially
metamorphosed individuals were observed in a stock pond in the Project Area (see Figure 8-1 for
the location of the pond). Based on field conditions observed during surveys and known locations
in the area, this species is likely to occur around most aquatic habitats in the Project Area.

California Tiger Salamander
The California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) was recently listed as threatened under the
federal endangered species act and is a state species of special concern. This Project Area and a large
portion of the APWRA have been designated as critical habitat. California tiger salamanders are
terrestrial and spend most of their time underground in small burrows, emerging for only brief
periods to breed in aquatic habitats. The California tiger salamander is known to occur in the
Project Area; there are numerous records of the species in the vicinity of the Project Area from the
CNDDB (CNDDB 2003). Partially metamorphosed individuals were observed in a stock pond in
the Project Area (see Figure 8-1 for the location of the pond). Based on field conditions observed
during surveys and known locations in the area, this species is likely to occur around most aquatic
habitats in the Project Area.

Alameda Whipsnake
The Alameda whipsnake is listed as threatened under both the federal and state ESAs. This species
is primarily found in or near scrub and chaparral. The nearest known occurrence of Alameda
whipsnake is approximately 5 miles from the Project Area. No suitable habitat exists within the
Project Area.

Species Status Bats
The following special-status bat species (either Federal Species of Concern [FSC], or California
Species of Special Concern [CSC]) are known to occur in the general vicinity of the Project Area:

•   Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii townsendii) –FSC/CSC


PAGE 8-28                                        DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                                CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


•   Long-legged myotis (Myotis volans) – FSC

•   Small-footed myotis (Myotis ciliolabrum) – FSC

•   Western (California) mastiff bat (Eumops perotis californicus) – CSC

•   Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis) – FSC

•   Long-eared myotis (Myotis evotis) – FSC

The above bat species are generally widespread throughout California, and their exact distribution is
not well known. Bats are commonly found in association with open forests and woodlands, where
there is a water source nearby over which to feed. Suitable roosting and nesting areas include caves,
mines, tree snags, buildings, and other human-made structures. Some of the above bat species may
forage over the Project Area near seasonal drainages and grasslands, but only the Long-eared myotis
(one fatality, Anderson et al. 2004a) has been reported as a wind turbine fatality.

Other Wildlife Species
Table 8-1 contains a comprehensive list of the species observed in the 60 mi2 APWRA during recent
studies by Smallwood and Thelander (2004). During the Jones and Stokes site visit, a pair of red-
tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) was observed perched in a tree on the Lopez property, in the north-
central portion of the Project Area. There did not appear to be a nest in the tree. An inactive raptor
nest was found in a eucalyptus tree near the facilities by the road/culvert under Vasco Road in the
northwestern portion of the area. One barn owl (Tyto alba) was found dead below turbine number
145. This turbine lacked blades and white wash in the area indicated that the owl might have been
using the nacelle portion of the turbine for shelter. The locations of these wildlife sightings (or
wildlife habitats such as raptor nests) are shown in Figure 8-2. In addition to the California red-
legged frog and California tiger salamander metamorphs mentioned above, California tree frogs
were observed in one pond.

Plants
Botanical resources present in the Project Area have been surveyed and described at least once
(Leitner 1984). No special-status plants were located in the Project Area during the previous survey;
however, those survey results are 19 years old and the survey area is not well defined. Additional
plants have been added to the CNPS list since the Leitner 1984 survey was conducted.

Based on the CNDDB search and literature review, 16 special-status plants were identified as
potentially occurring in the Project region. Of the 16 species identified, two are known to occur in
or near the Project Area (see Figure 8-4) and the remaining 14 can potentially occur in the Project
Area. A detailed botanical survey of the Project Area was conducted in March and May 2004 for all
of the species to identify the species potentially occurring in the Project area. No special-status plant



DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                               PAGE 8-29
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


populations were located at the Project site during that survey. Based on the results of the survey,
no further surveys for special-status plants appear to be required prior to Project implementation.

Big Tarplant
Big tarplant (Blepharizonia plumosa ssp. plumosa) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered
in California, qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs in annual grassland, on dry hills and plains
from about 50 feet up to 1,500 feet in elevation. The CNDDB contains a collection from near
Byron; however the exact location has not been verified. Based on experience with this species, it
tends to be found in disturbed habitats such as firebreaks or roadsides. Habitat for this species
occurs in the Project Area. During detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004, none of
these plants were located on the site.




PAGE 8-30                                        DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                                                                               AD
                                                                                                             RO
                                                                                                             G
                                                        K




                                                                                                           ON
                                                      EE




                                                                                                         TR
                                                    CR




                                                                                                       MS
                                                 HY




                                                                                                     AR
                                               US
                                             BR
                                                                                                                                                                    BYRON HOT
                                                                                                                                                                    SPRINGS RD




                                                                                              BRITTLESCALE

                                                                                                                    SAN JOAQUIN
                                                                                                                    SPEARSCALE




                                      AD
                                    RO
                                O
                              SC
                            VA
                                                                                                                                               O&M
                                                                                                                                            FACILITY
            SAN JOAQUIN
            SPEARSCALE
                                  STRING A
                                                            STRING C

                                                                                                                                                                        NTY
                                                                                                                                                                    COU
                                                                                                                                                                STA
                                                                                                                                                            A CO      Y
                                                                                                                                                       CONTR     OUNT
                                                                                                                                                              A C
                                                                                                                                                           MED
                                                                                                                                                        ALA
              STRING V
                                                                                               STRING P
                  SAN JOAQUIN
                  SPEARSCALE

                                                                                                                                                       500'   0    500'




        Project Boundary   M New Turbine                     Special-Status Plant Locations                           NOTE: Existing turbines in locations where
                           X Removed Turbines                                                                               new turbines are proposed are not shown

                              Turbines Owned by Others




                                                                                                                                                  SOURCE: Jones & Stokes
Figure 8-4
Locations of Known Special-Status Plant Occurrences
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES




                              This page intentionally left blank.




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                                                                  CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES



Large-Flowered Fiddleneck
Large-flowered fiddleneck (Amsinckia grandiflora) is federally and state-listed as endangered and is
considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in California qualifying it for their List 1B. It is
not known to occur within 15 miles of the Project area. Large-flowered fiddleneck occurs in annual
grassland on open grassy slopes below 1,200 feet elevation. During detailed surveys conducted in
March and May 2004, none of these plants were located on the site.

Alkali Milk-Vetch
Alkali milk-vetch (Astragalus tener var. tener) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in
California, qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs on grassy flats and vernal pool margins (generally
on alkali soils) below about 200 feet elevation. It is known to occur approximately 2 miles from the
Project area. Suitable habitat for this species occurs in the Project Area in alkali meadow habitat.
During detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004, none of these plants were located on the
site.

Heartscale
Heartscale (Atriplex cordulata) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in California
qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs in alkali grassland, alkali meadow, and alkali scrub below
about 600 feet in elevation. Suitable habitat for this species occurs in the Project Area in alkali
meadow habitat. During detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004, none of these plants
were located on the site.

Brittlescale
Brittlescale (Atriplex depressa) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in California
qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs in alkali grassland, alkali meadow, alkali scrub, chenopod
scrub, and valley and foothill grassland on alkaline soils below about 660 feet. A known occurrence
of brittlescale is located in the Project area in alkali habitat. Suitable habitat also exists in other alkali
habitat in the Project area. During detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004, none of
these plants were located on the site.

San Joaquin Spearscale
San Joaquin spearscale (Atriplex joaquiniana) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in
California qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs in alkali grassland, alkali scrub, and alkali
meadows below about 1,000 feet. Numerous occurrences are known from alkali meadow habitat in
and around the Project area. During detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004, none of
these plants were located on the site.




DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                                   PAGE 8-33
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Palmate-Bracted Bird’s-Beak
Palmate-bracted bird’s-beak (Cordylanthus palmatus) is federally and state-listed as endangered and is
considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in California qualifying it for their List 1B. It
occurs in alkali grassland, alkali meadow, and chenopod scrub. Habitat for this species occurs in the
Project area in alkali meadow habitat. During detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004,
none of these plants were located on the site.

Recurved Larkspur
Recurved larkspur (Delphinium recurvatum) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in
California qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs in subalkaline soils in annual grassland, saltbush
scrub, cismontane woodland, and vernal pools up to about 2,000 feet in elevation. An occurrence is
located approximately 2 miles from the study area, just south of Byron. Habitat for this species
occurs in the Project Area in alkali meadow habitat. During detailed surveys conducted in March
and May 2004, none of these plants were located on the site.

Mt. Diablo Buckwheat
Mt. Diablo buckwheat (Eriogonum truncatum) is considered by the CNPS to be extinct in California
qualifying it for their List 1A. The habitat for Mt. Diablo buckwheat was described in previous
collections as coarse sandy soil in grasslands. The nearest collection for Mt. Diablo buckwheat was
located at least 10 miles from the Project Area. The Project Area is located on what is thought to be
the edge of this species’ range and it has not been seen for over 60 years. It is therefore very
unlikely to occur in the Project Area. During detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004,
none of these plants were located on the site.

Round-Leaved Filaree
Round-leaved filaree (Erodium macrophyllum) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in
California qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs in open sites and dry grasslands below about
4,000 feet. It was historically collected from the Byron Hot Springs quadrangle; however it has not
been seen since 1935 (CNDDB 2003) and habitats in the Project Area appear marginal based on
prior experience with this species at Livermore National Laboratories’ Site 300 in Alameda County
(Jones & Stokes 2002), and other surveys conducted in Fresno and Merced Counties (Jones &
Stokes 2003). It is therefore considered to have a low potential to occur in the Project Area. During
detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004, none of these plants were located on the site.

Diamond-Petaled California Poppy
Diamond-petaled California poppy (Eschscholzia rhombipetala) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or
endangered in California qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs in sparse grassland on clay soils
with a low growth of annuals. There are currently three known occurrence of Diamond-petaled
California poppy. The nearest occurrence is located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories’
Site 300 approximately 15 miles from the Project area. Based on experience with this species and


PAGE 8-34                                         DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                                 CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


current research on its microhabitat requirements (Espeland and Carlson 2003), it is unlikely to
occur in the Project Area. During detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004, none of these
plants were located on the site.

Stinkbells
Stinkbells (Fritillaria agrestis) is considered by the CNPS to be uncommon in California qualifying it
for their List 4. It occurs in a variety of habitats in the valley and foothills and sometimes occurs on
serpentine substrates. Because it is a List 4 species, it is not tracked by CNDDB and it does not
require a mandatory review under CEQA. It has a moderate potential to occur in the Project Area;
however, the Project is unlikely to affect the species. During detailed surveys conducted in March
and May 2004, none of these plants were located on the site.

Fragrant Fritillary
Fragrant fritillary (Fritillaria liliacea) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in California
qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs in adobe soils of the interior foothills, coastal prairie, coastal
scrub, and annual grassland, often on serpentine substrates. The nearest occurrence is
approximately 10 miles from the Project Area. Based on its habitat requirements and the nearest
known occurrences, it is unlikely to occur in the Project Area. During detailed surveys conducted in
March and May 2004, none of these plants were located on the site.

Contra Costa Goldfields
Contra Costa goldfields (Lasthenia conjugens) is federally listed as endangered and is considered by the
CNPS to be rare or endangered in California qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs in alkaline or
saline vernal pools and swales below about 700 feet in elevation. A historic occurrence is known
from the Kellogg Creek watershed near the Project Area (CNDDB 2003). Suitable habitat for this
species could exist in alkali meadow habitat in the Project Area. During detailed surveys conducted
in March and May 2004, none of these plants were located on the site.

Sanford’s Arrowhead
Sanford’s arrowhead (Sagittaria sanfordii) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in
California qualifying it for their List 1B. It occurs in shallow marshes and swamps often within or
adjacent to small drainages. Potential habitat for this species occurs within Brushy Creek. During
detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004, none of these plants were located on the site.

Rayless Ragwort
Rayless ragwort (Senecio aphanactis) is considered by the CNPS to be rare or endangered in California
but more common elsewhere qualifying it for their List 2. It occurs in oak woodland, coastal scrub,
and open sandy or rocky areas on alkaline soils. A historic occurrence was collected near Byron Hot
Springs in 1888; however it has not been relocated since then. Based on its microhabitat



DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                                   PAGE 8-35
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


requirements and the nearest known occurrences, it is unlikely to occur in the Project Area. During
detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004, none of these plants were located on the site.

Caper-Fruited Tropidocarpum
Caper-fruited tropidocarpum (Tropidocarpum capparideum) is considered by the CNPS to be extinct in
California qualifying it for their List 1A. It historically occurred in alkali grasslands below about
1,500 feet in elevation. It has not been seen near the Project Area since 1936, even though
numerous searches have been conducted (CNNDB 2003). It is unlikely to occur in the Project
Area. During detailed surveys conducted in March and May 2004, none of these plants were located
on the site.




IMPACTS & MITIGATION MEASURES
The following discussion addresses potential biological resource impacts resulting from the
proposed Buena Vista Project. Project-specific impacts and appropriate mitigation are developed
using relevant and appropriate information from the Repowering Program EIR, and the most up-to-
date information from more recent research and monitoring studies in the Altamont Pass Wind
Resource Area (APWRA) and elsewhere. The Biological Resource Management Plan (BRMP)
contains numerous measures believed, at the time it was written, to avoid or minimize impacts to
avian and other biological resources in the APWRA. Based on more recent studies, some of these
measures have not been shown to be effective, while other measures not discussed in the BRMP are
now considered to be more effective. These measures are discussed in greater detail below.

Summary of Key Project Issues
New turbine locations at this site appear to meet the Avian Impact Avoidance element of the
BRMP, although other factors derived from more recent research and monitoring studies in the
APWRA may be more important. Slopes on the site are variable, and no turbines will be sited on
slopes greater than 25%. The majority of the new turbine locations are on ridge crests, which are
safer for raptors than on slopes, drainage bottoms, or saddles of ridges (Smallwood and Thelander
2004). The exceptions are two turbines located to the northern end of turbine string C; these are on
the northwest-facing ridge that drops into a drainage basin, and may be encountered
disproportionately more often by Golden eagle, Red-tailed hawk, and other raptors. Otherwise, the
proposed turbine locations are also relatively densely distributed and minimize the ratio of edge to
interior positions, both attributes being favorable according to Smallwood and Thelander (2004).




PAGE 8-36                                       DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                                   CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


SIGNIFICANCE CRITERIA
The Project will have a significant environmental impact if it:

•     Has a substantial adverse effect, either directly or through habitat modifications, on any species
      identified as a candidate, sensitive, or special-status species in local or regional plans, policies, or
      regulations, or by the California Department of Fish and Game or U.S. Fish and Wildlife
      Service;

•     Has a substantial adverse effect on any riparian habitat or other sensitive natural community
      identified in local or regional plans, policies, or regulations, or by the California Department of
      Fish and Game or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;

•     Has a substantial adverse effect on federally protected wetlands as defined by Section 404 of the
      Clean Water Act (including, but not limited to, marsh, vernal pool, coastal habitats, etc.) through
      direct removal, filling, hydrological interruption, or other means;

•     Interferes substantially with the movement of any native resident or migratory fish or wildlife
      species or with established native resident or migratory wildlife corridors, or impede the use of
      native wildlife nursery sites;

•     Conflicts with any local policies or ordinances protecting biological resources, such as a tree
      preservation policy or ordinance; and/or

•     Conflicts with the provisions of an adopted Habitat Conservation Plan, Natural Community
      Conservation Plan, or other approved local, regional, or state habitat conservation plan.


8.1       ALKALI MEADOW HABITAT
Impact 8-1:           Increased construction traffic on access roads could disturb adjacent alkali
                      meadow habitat (referred to as a Biologically Unique Habitat in the BRMP).
                      Disturbance of alkali meadow habitat would be considered a potentially
                      significant impact.

Alkali meadow habitat occurs in a portion of the central Project Area (Figure 8-1). Based on the
current Project description and design, it appears that this habitat type will be avoided as part of the
project. No Project features are located within 200 feet of alkali meadows on the north and east
sides of the site. However, existing access roads pass near the northern and central alkali meadows.
Project construction will increase the amount of traffic on these roads, potentially disturbing the
adjacent alkali meadows. Turbines and roads will be removed in this vicinity and the natural
vegetation allowed to re-grow.




DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                                    PAGE 8-37
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Mitigation Measures
To reduce the potential impact to alkali meadow habitat from construction and/or necessary
improvements to access routes where no other feasible alternative exists, the following additional
mitigation measures will be implemented:

MM 8-1a:           Avoidance. Ground disturbance shall be avoided within 200 feet of alkali
                   meadow habitat, unless no other feasible alternative exists.

MM 8-1b:           Erosion Control Measures. Silt fences or similar erosion control measures
                   shall be installed along road edges near alkali meadows to control potential
                   impacts to the habitat, and traffic on these roads shall be minimized to the extent
                   practicable.

MM 8-1c:           Agricultural Land Reclamation. If the roadway near the central alkali meadow
                   is to be reclaimed to grassland, the work shall be limited to the immediate
                   roadway, and erosion control measures shall be implemented.

MM 8-1d:           Mitigation Monitoring. Monitoring shall be conducted by qualified personnel
                   to ensure the success of the above measures, and the Project will be modified to
                   address any site-specific constraints identified by the monitor.

Resulting Level of Significance
Implementation of the above mitigation measures will reduce potential impacts on alkali meadow
habitat to a level considered less than significant.




8.2    SPECIAL-STATUS PLANTS
Detailed surveys for special-status plants were conducted in the Project area during the flowering
season, March and May 2004. Although sixteen (16) special-status plant species have the potential
to occur in the Project Area, no special-status plants were located during these surveys. Based on
these detailed surveys, the Project’s potential impacts on special status plant species are less than
significant.




8.3    STOCK PONDS AND SEASONAL AND PERENNIAL DRAINAGES
Impact 8-3         Construction of the Project could affect adjacent stock ponds and perennial
                   drainages, which are home to several special-status species. Disturbing these
                   areas is considered a potentially significant impact.



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                                                              CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Based on the current Project description and design, it appears that stock ponds and drainages will
be avoided as part of the project. No Project features are located within 200 feet of a stock pond or
drainage way within the site. However, existing access roads pass near drainages in the central
portion of the site. Project construction will increase the amount of traffic on these roads,
potentially disturbing the habitat adjacent to these features.

Stock ponds and seasonal/perennial drainages in the Project Area are considered habitat for the
California red-legged frog and California tiger salamander (Figure 8-1). In addition, a rare species,
the Curved-footed hygrotos diving beetle, which was not addressed in the BRMP but which occurs
in similar habitat to the California tiger salamander, could occur in the Project Area. The BRMP
states that no ground-disturbing activities should be permitted within 200 feet of habitat for these
species. The USFWS has listed the central California population of the California tiger salamander
as threatened (50 FR Part 17, May 23, 2003). This listing defines a “breeding site” as including
wetlands or stock ponds, and prescribes a buffer area extending up to 600 feet from the water to
provide sufficient terrestrial habitat for aestivation. However, this standard applies to projects that
would result in permanent disturbance/removal of habitat.

Recommended Mitigation Measures
MM 8-3a:           Avoidance. No construction of new roads or turbine pads or other ground
                   disturbance such as staging areas and roadway widening shall occur within 200
                   feet of stock ponds on the site. Construction traffic on existing roads within this
                   setback will be limited to occasional light trucks consistent with existing
                   agricultural/windfarm operations.

MM 8-3b:           Additional Seasonal Avoidance. No construction of new roads or turbine
                   pads or other ground disturbance such as staging areas and roadway widening
                   shall occur within 600 feet of stock ponds and perennial/seasonal drainages on
                   the site during February and March, the breeding season for California Tiger
                   Salamander.

MM8-3c:            Protection and Monitoring. If construction, such as improved access roads, is
                   required within 200 feet setback of perennial/seasonal drainages, then the
                   following additional mitigation measures will be implemented.

                   a) Silt fences or similar erosion control measures will be installed along these
                      road edges to control potential impacts to the habitat, and traffic on these
                      roads will be minimized to the extent practicable.

                   b) Construction work shall be scheduled in the non-breeding season (see MM 8-
                      2b above).

                   c) Construction-period monitoring shall be conducted to determine whether
                      impacts may occur, and to determine appropriate mitigation actions.


DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                             PAGE 8-39
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


                   d) Construction shall not occur during rainy days,


MM 8-3d:           Wetlands Delineation. A wetland delineation shall be prepared for identified
                   potential wetland areas within 200 feet of any Project features. The delineation
                   will provide guidance to the designers and builders of the Project in order to
                   ensure avoidance of these features, and should be submitted to the US Army
                   Corps of Engineers for verification.
                   a) If avoidance of fill in jurisdictional wetlands is not possible, impacts shall be
                      mitigated according to a Section 404 permit, which will include consultation
                      with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and certification by the Regional
                      Water Quality Control Board.

                   b) Fill in other waters (non-jurisdictional wetlands) shall also be subject to
                      regulation by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

                   c) Any such measures will be implemented with the concurrence of the
                      appropriate regulatory agency.

Resulting Level of Significance
Implementation of the above mitigation measures would reduce the Project’s impacts on stock
ponds and perennial drainages to a level considered to be less than significant.




8.4    SAN JOAQUIN KIT FOX
Impact 8-4:        Based on surveys, potential burrows are located in the Project Area. Ground
                   disturbance associated with but not limited to construction of roadways, turbine
                   tower pads, staging areas, power line trenches, and demolition/construction sites
                   in grassland areas have the potential to disturb San Joaquin kit fox dens and
                   potential dens. Disturbing San Joaquin kit fox dens is considered a potentially
                   significant impact.

Mitigation Measures
To avoid potential impacts on the San Joaquin kit fox, the following measures will be implemented:

MM 8-4a:           Preconstruction Surveys. Pre-construction kit fox surveys are required for all
                   ground-disturbing activities. Pre-construction surveys are conducted to classify
                   and map the presence of all kit fox dens and potential dens that could be affected
                   by Project activities. The survey area will include the perimeter of the
                   disturbance area and a 200-foot buffer surrounding the perimeter. Surveys must


PAGE 8-40                                        DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                           CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


                 be conducted no less than 14 days and no more than 30 days prior to the
                 beginning of ground disturbance activities.

                 a) A qualified wildlife biologist, as defined in the BRMP, will systematically
                    search all suitable habitat within the survey area for kit fox dens by walking
                    survey transects. Transect width will be from 30 to 100 feet wide depending
                    on ground cover, such that 100% visual coverage of the Project Area is
                    achieved.

                 b) Surveys will identify kit fox habitat features on the Project site and evaluate
                    use by kit fox. The status of dens will be determined and mapped. When a
                    den is found, biologists will measure the size; evaluate the shape of the den
                    entrances; and note tracks, scat, prey remains, recent excavation at the site,
                    and whether the site is associated with a ground squirrel colony. Ground
                    squirrel colonies will also be mapped (centroids of burrowing systems) as an
                    indication of prey availability within 300 feet of the new turbine strings.

                 c) Dens will be classified in one of two den status categories. A den will be
                    classified as a “potential” kit fox den if the hole is greater than 4 inches high
                    and 3 inches wide for its entire visible length; a collapsed den will not be
                    considered a potential den site. A potential den is defined as any
                    subterranean hole, including burrows of other species such as coyote, badger,
                    red fox, or ground squirrel; or man-made holes such as culverts and pipes.

                 d) A den will be classified as an “active” den if any of the following conditions
                    are observed: 1) the hole size is within the specified range and the hole shows
                    signs of recent activity that might indicate recent kit fox use, such as fresh
                    scat, tracks, prey remains, or recent excavations; or 2) a kit fox is observed at
                    the den site; or 3) recent kit fox use of the den has been confirmed through
                    other incidental observations. Fresh excavation alone will not be considered
                    adequate sign to classify a den as “active” because excavation made by a kit
                    fox is often not distinct from excavation made by another species.

                 e) Results of preconstruction surveys must be received by the USFWS in
                    writing within 5 days after their completion and prior to the start of ground
                    disturbance. If a natal den is discovered within the Project Area, the USFWS
                    must be notified immediately.

MM 8-4b:         Exclusion Zones. To avoid disturbance to active or potential dens, exclusion
                 zones will be established.

                 a) The configuration of exclusion zones around dens will be circular, with a
                    radius measured outward from the entrance or cluster of entrances as



DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                           PAGE 8-41
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


                       follows: 1) potential dens – 50 feet, 2) active dens – 100 feet, and 3) natal den
                       – contact Service.

                   b) No ground-disturbing activities will occur within exclusion zones of active
                      dens. No ground-disturbing activities will be allowed within exclusion zones
                      of potential dens until the following monitoring protocol is conducted and a
                      determination that the site is unoccupied by kit fox is made.

MM 8-4c:           Monitoring. All potential and active kit fox dens will be monitored for 3
                   consecutive days and nights to determine or confirm occupancy. Dens should be
                   monitored by placing a tracking medium (gypsum) at the den entrance and
                   checking the medium for tracks daily. Sufficient gypsum will be placed around
                   and just inside the den entrance to provide a suitable tracking medium.
                   Additional gypsum will be placed at the den daily as needed.

                   a) A den will be determined to be active (occupied) if kit fox tracks are found in
                      the tracking medium or if the species is seen entering or exiting the den.

                   b) If a den is determined to be occupied, the exclusion zones will remain in
                      effect until the site is determined to be unoccupied. Additional monitoring
                      would be required to determine if the site is unoccupied.

                   c) If a potential den is determined to be unoccupied after 3 days and nights of
                      monitoring, then work can proceed within the exclusion zone.

Resulting Level of Significance
With implementation of these requirements, potential impacts to individual kit fox are considered to
be less than significant and no additional mitigation measures are required.




8.5    ANNUAL GRASSLAND/POTENTIAL SAN JOAQUIN KIT FOX HABITAT
Impact 8-5         Construction-period disturbance and the permanent installation of new turbines
                   and access roads will disturb annual grassland, potential habitat for sensitive
                   species including San Joaquin kit fox.

As shown on Table 8-3 the existing wind farm project on the site currently occupies a developed
“footprint” of approximately 37.1 acres within the predominantly annual grassland habitat. This
footprint consists primarily of concrete foundation pads for the 179 existing wind turbines and
approximately 12.6 miles of access roads, approximately 20 feet wide.

Under the proposed Project all of the existing 179 turbines are proposed to be removed and the
underlying foundations covered with topsoil and reclaimed to native vegetation. Additionally


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                                                              CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


approximately 2.4 miles of existing roadways no longer needed for the Project or by the underlying
property owners would also be reclaimed. This reclamation activity would result in a net increase of
annual grassland habitat of approximately 12.3 acres.

New construction associated with the Project would include construction of 38 new wind turbines
that would be located atop new concrete foundation pads. Each pad area and surrounding graveled
base would occupy an approximately 40-foot by 40-foot site. Thus, new turbine pads would occupy
approximately 1.4 acres of current grassland habitat. Additionally, approximately 1.25 miles of new,
20-foot wide permanent roads (approximately 3.0 acres) will also be constructed to provide
construction and maintenance access to new turbine sites. Combined, these new permanent features
would occupy approximately 4.4 acres of current grassland habitat.

During the construction period, additional grading operations will be required. Relatively flat
temporary pads, approximately 40-feet by 80-feet in dimension, will be constructed at each turbine
location to provide a base for the location of a large crane needed to erect the turbine. Additionally,
it is assumed that some contour grading will be needed to match construction grade with the existing
grade These temporary grading activities are estimated to cover a total of approximately 1 acre at
each turbine pad, or approximately 38 acres. Additionally, approximately 5.9 miles of existing roads
and 1.25 miles of proposed new roads will be widened from 20 feet to 30 feet in width to
accommodate large construction vehicles. The grading to accommodate temporarily widened road
would amount to approximately 8.7 of land. Final grading plans will be developed pursuant to
subsequent building permits, and will be required to be approved by the County. However, for
preliminary estimating purposes it has been assumed that the total temporarily disturbed area will
amount to approximately 46.7 acres. The temporary crane pads, temporary road widening and
contour grading areas will be re-seeded and reclaimed to native vegetation once the construction
period is completed.




DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                             PAGE 8-43
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES



                                         Table 8-3:
                        Annual Grassland Habitat Developed/Disturbed
                     Existing        Project -         Project -          Project -    Resulting Total
                                    Reclaimed         Construction          Net

Permanent

Turbine pads        179 pads,       179 pads,            38 pads,        - 5.2 acres      1.4 acres
                    6.6 acres       - 6.6 acres          1.4 acres

Roads               12.6 miles,     2.4 miles,       1.25 miles new,      -2.7 acre      27.8 acres
                    30.5 acres      - 5.7 acres         3.0 acres

            total   37.1 acres      - 12.3 acres        4.4 acres        - 7.9 acres     29.2 acres

Temporary

Crane pads and                                           38 pads,
contour grade                                            38 acres

Road shoulders,                                       7.2 miles total,
5’ on each side                                          8.7 acres

            total                                       46.7 acres



As shown on Table 8-3, under permanent conditions there is expected to be a net increase in annual
grassland habitat of approximately 7.9 acres as a result of reclamation efforts. However, during the
construction period and prior to re-establishment of native vegetation there would be a total
temporary disturbance of approximately 46.7 aces of annual grassland habitat. Although in the long-
term the Project will result in a net increase of annual grassland habitat, the construction period
impacts are considered to be potentially significant.

Recommended Mitigation Measures
The Project applicant currently leases the property within the existing wind farm project from the
underlying property owners. These leases cover the entire roughly 2,500 acres (approximately 4
square miles) owned by Thelma Souza, Samuel Stewart, Dennis Lopez, Joseph and Esther Martinez,
and James and Donna Pugh. These leases have approximately 10 years remaining under current
contracts. The mitigation measure recommended for the Project to address temporary construction-
period impacts to annual grassland/potential kit fox habitat is as follows:

MM 8-5:             Reduced Lease Agreements. The Project applicant shall relinquish their lease
                    arrangement with Stewart and Lopez, and shall revise the lease arrangements
                    with the remaining primary underlying property owner (Souza) to reduce the
                    overall extent of leased property. The new leases should cover only a band of
                    property of approximately 200 feet on either side of each turbine string. The


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                                                              CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


                   remaining property not underlying these new lease arrangements would then be
                   lease-free to the underlying property owner.

Resulting Level of Significance
Under the recommended mitigation measure the new leases needed for the Project on Souza
property will cover only a band of property to be under lease of approximately 225 acres. The lease
from Martinez and Pugh would continue to be a full land lease covering approximately 175 acres.
Thus, of the total 2,500-acre site approximately 400 acres (or about 16% of the total 2,500 acre site)
would remain under lease for wind generation uses.

The remaining property not underlying these new lease arrangements (approximately 2,100 acres, or
84% of the site) would then be lease-free under the Project. The underlying property owners would
then have the option of making these lease-free properties available for acquisition by others (either
by title or easement) for permanent open space preservation. Such acquisitions could be made by
park and open space districts, land trusts, or developers of other properties needing to find a
mitigation bank for purchase of off-site mitigation “credits”. Such acquisitions would be negotiated
solely at the discretion of the underlying property owners, but the Project applicant’s early
relinquishment of lease agreements could facilitate such transactions earlier than otherwise available.
The primary underlying property owner, Souza, has already advertised their property as being
available for purchase of conservation easements or as a potential open space mitigation bank.

The Project would result in a net increase in long-term annual grassland habitat through the removal
of existing facilities and reclamation of existing roads and sites. The facilitation of potential
permanent open space preservation through early relinquishment of lease agreements would provide
additional compensation to off-set the temporary increase in annual grassland habit impacts resulting
from construction activities to a less than significant level.




8.6    BURROWING OWL
Impact 8-6         Based on surveys, burrowing owls are located in the Project Area. Ground
                   disturbance associated with but not limited to construction of roadways, turbine
                   pads, staging areas, power line trenches, and demolition/construction sites in
                   grassland areas has the potential to disturb breeding or wintering burrowing
                   owls. Disturbing burrowing owls is considered a potentially significant impact.

Collision potential for burrowing owls is addressed in subsequent sections of this chapter of the
EIR.

Mitigation Measures
The following monitoring and mitigation measures are recommended:


DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                             PAGE 8-45
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


MM 8-6a:           Pre-construction Surveys. Project proponents shall hire a qualified wildlife
                   biologist to conduct a preconstruction survey to locate any breeding or wintering
                   Burrowing owls no more than 30 days prior to the start of construction. The
                   survey shall conform to the Department of Fish and Game 1995 Staff Report
                   protocol.

MM 8-6b:           Breeding Season Controls. If no Burrowing owls are detected, then no further
                   mitigation is necessary. If Burrowing owls are detected, then no ground-
                   disturbing activities, including road construction or installation of turbines or
                   ancillary facilities, will be permitted within 250 feet of an active burrow during
                   the breeding season (February 1 through August 31).

MM 8-6c:           Non-breeding Season Controls. During the winter months (September
                   through January), ground-disturbing work can proceed no closer than 160 feet
                   from active burrows as long as the site is not directly graded. If active winter
                   burrows are found that would be destroyed by ground-disturbing activities, then
                   owls can be displaced from winter burrows by a qualified wildlife biologist, in
                   consultation with the Department of Fish and Game. This would involve
                   installing one-way doors at the entrance to the active burrow and other
                   potentially active burrows within 150 feet of the active burrow. Forty-eight
                   hours after installation of the one-way doors, the doors can be removed and
                   ground-disturbing activities can proceed. Habitat preservation shall also be
                   provided as part of any relocation of nesting burrowing owls, according to the
                   DFG protocol and in consultation with the DFG.

Resulting Level of Significance
With implementation of these mitigation measures, this impact is considered to be less than significant
and no additional mitigation measures are required.




8.7    AVIAN COLLISION IMPACTS
Impact 8-7         Implementation of the Project could lead to avian mortality from collision with
                   turbines, which would be a significant impact.

Operation of the Project is expected to result in mortality of birds due to collision with wind
turbines. There would be no impact to raptors from powerline collisions, since all electrical lines
will be underground.

Wind plant construction can affect birds through loss of habitat, potential fatalities from
construction equipment, and disturbance/displacement effects from construction and human
occupation of the area. Potential mortality from construction equipment on site is expected to be


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                                                                          CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


quite low and similar to other wind projects. The risk of construction-related mortality to avian
species is most likely limited to destruction of ground- or shrub-nesting species nest, eggs, or young
when equipment initially disturbs the habitat. Disturbance-type impacts can be expected to occur if
construction activity occurs near an active nest or primary foraging area. Birds displaced from these
areas might move to areas less disturbed; however, breeding effort might be affected and foraging
opportunities altered during the construction.

Collision Impacts
Avian mortality in the APWRA has been documented since the mid 1980’s (Smallwood and
Thelander 2004). The most recent studies conducted within the APWRA estimate between 1,766
and 4,7211 birds are killed by collision with the 5400 wind turbines annually within the APWRA,
with between 881 and 1,300 fatalities being raptors. These estimates translate to 1.5 to 2.2 raptor
fatalities/MW/year, and 3.0 to 8.1 bird fatalities/MW/year. Over 40 different bird species are
represented in the fatalities (see Table 8.1). Raptor species estimates include 75 to 116 Golden
eagles, 209 to 300 Red-tailed hawks, 73 to 333 American kestrels, and 99 to 380 Burrowing owls.

Studies at newer generation wind plants (turbines on tubular towers with 33-meter rotor diameters
and larger) have typically suggested relatively low raptor mortality (0 to 0.07 per MW per year), and
all bird fatality rates have ranged from 0 to 10 birds per MW per year (Tables 8-3 and 8-4, NWCC
2004, Erickson et al. 2001, Erickson et al. 2003). Overall raptor use is measurably lower at the sites
reported in Erickson et al. 2001 and Erickson et al. 2003 than in the APWRA (Erickson et al. 2002).
 This much lower raptor activity level may be the best explanation for the lower raptor fatalities at
Tehachapi Pass and San Gorgonio wind farms, as well as at some of the newer wind turbine sites
outside California when compared to the APWRA. An ongoing study at the new High Winds Wind
Project in the Montezuma Hills of Solano County, a 162 MW facility consisting of 90 1.8-MW
turbines, reported 99 bird fatalities during its first 11-months of operation, including 32 American
kestrels, 10 Red-tailed hawks, 2 White-tailed kites, 1 Ferruginous hawk, and 1 Golden eagle. Raptor
mortality estimates unadjusted for scavenging, carcass searcher efficiency2, and other biases are
approximately 0.3/MW/year. Estimates of raptor use from previous studies (Howell and Noone
1992, Orloff and Flannery 1992, Howell and DiDonato 1991) in Solano County ranged between 2 to
3 raptors per 10 minute count, while studies at Altamont indicated raptor use of 1 to 2 raptors per
10 minute count (Orloff and Flannery 1992). More recent studies in the adjacent High Winds Wind
Project (Kerlinger et al. 2001) also suggested a higher raptor/vulture estimated use than in the
Altamont. Much of the difference in raptor use in the Montezuma Hills can be attributed to
apparently higher abundance of Red-tailed hawks, American kestrels and Turkey vultures. Red-
tailed hawks and American kestrels are common fatalities observed at wind plants (Smallwood and




1   adjusted for scavenging and searcher efficiency from data at Oregon/Washington wind project
2 the measured ability of the observers to detect fatalities during searchers. Searcher efficiency is a function of habitat,
search transect width, observer’s abilities, and other factors.


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CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Thelander (2004a,b; Erickson et al. 2001, Erickson et al. 2003b), while Turkey vultures do not
appear very susceptible to collision (Orloff and Flannery 1992).



                                                           Table 8-4
      Regional and Overall Raptor Fatality Rates. Fatality Rates Estimated Based on
       Number of Fatalities found, and Adjustments for Scavenging and Observer
                                   Detection Biases 1

                                             #      Rotor Diameter       #raptors/turbine/year       #raptors/MW/year
                                                          (m)
    Region                                studies    Min        max       Avg min         max        avg     min      max

                   Newer Generation Wind Projects

    Northwest                                4        47         65       0.05 0.00       0.07       0.07    0.00     0.09

    Rocky Mts.                               2        42         44       0.03 0.03       0.04       0.05    0.05     0.06

    Midwest                                  4        33         48       0.00 0.00       0.01       0.00    0.00     0.04

    East                                     2        47         72       0.02 0.00       0.02       0.01    0.00     0.02

    Overall                                 12        33         72       0.03 0.00       0.07       0.04    0.00     0.09

    California2                              3        15         33       0.15 0.01       0.24       1.37    <0.1     2.24

    Reproduced from tables developed by W. Erickson for NWCC Fact Sheet (NWCC 20O4)
    1 Based on studies of wind projects that were conducted for a minimum of 3 seasons (spring, summer and fall), and

    where scavenging and searcher efficiency biases were incorporated into the estimates. Per-turbine estimates are weighted
    by number of turbines at projects studied, Per-MW estimates by number of MW at projects studied.
    2 We are aware of only two California studies that reported estimates for all birds apparently adjusted for scavenging and

    searcher efficiency. One estimate was 2.3 birds/turbine at San Gorgonio, where nearly all of the turbines studied were
    small (65-200 kW), and methods for scavenging and searcher efficiency adjustments are unknown. A recent estimate
    from Altamont Pass for mostly small turbines (200 kW and less) was 8.1/MW/year, using bias adjustments from a study
    in the Pacific Northwest.




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                                                                                CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES



                                                     Table 8-5
    Regional and Overall Bird Fatality Rates. Fatality Rates Estimated Based on
    Number of Fatalities found, and Adjustments for Scavenging and Observer
                                Detection Biases 1

                     #        Rotor Diameter (m) # bird fatalities/turbine/year # bird fatalities/MW/year

Region             studies      min           max          avg       Min        max         avg       min       max

Newer Generation Wind Projects

Northwest             4          47            65          1.9       0.6         3.6        2.7        0.9       2.9

Rocky Mts.            2          42            44          1.5       1.5         1.5        2.3        2.0       2.5

U. Midwest            4          33            48          2.7       1.0         4.5        4.2        2.0       5.9

East                  2          47            72          4.3       4.0         7.7        3.0        2.7      11.7

Overall              12          33            72          2.3       0.6         7.7        3.1        0.9      11.7

Reproduced from tables developed by W. Erickson for NWCC Fact Sheet (NWCC 2004)
1 Based on studies of wind projects that were conducted for a minimum of 3 seasons (spring, summer and fall), and

where scavenging and searcher efficiency biases were incorporated into the estimates. Per-turbine estimates are weighted
by number of turbines at projects studied, Per-MW estimates by number of MW at projects studied.




Several avian research and monitoring studies have been conducted in the APWRA (Howell and
Didonato 1991, Orloff and Flannery 1992, 1996, Howell 1997, Smallwood and Thelander 2004a,b).
Raptor species most commonly killed at existing wind turbines within the APWRA include Red-
tailed hawk, American kestrel, Barn owl, Burrowing owl, and Golden eagle. In the next section, the
literature is reviewed regarding associations between characteristics of turbines, turbine locations,
and fatality locations. The most recent studies by Smallwood and Thelander (2004a,b) are
emphasized, because those studies are the most comprehensive to date. In these studies,
approximately 1500 turbines were studied for 4 years and 2500 turbines were studied for 6 months.
Turbines studied ranged from 40-kW to 330-kW turbines, although the results are most
representative of turbines between 40 kW and 150 kW, due to small sample sizes for the turbines
greater than 150 kW.

Previous studies suggested collision risk may be greater at lattice towers, especially horizontal lattice
towers, due to the increased perching structure associated with lattice versus tubular towers (Orloff
and Flannery 1996, Rugge 2001, Hunt 2002). Results from avian use studies at Tehachapi Pass and
San Gorgonio suggest perching occurs more frequently at lattice than at tubular towers, and more
frequently at shorter towers than taller towers (Anderson et al. 2004a,b). However, data from the
most recent studies (Smallwood and Thelander 2004a,b) in the APWRA suggest that tower type is
not a major factor related to collision risk of raptors. In addition, the latest research suggests that


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CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


most perching occurs on non-operating and broken down turbines, including turbines mounted on
lattice and tubular towers. Many of the tubular towers within the APWRA have external structures
conducive to perching, including cat walks and ladders. In addition, unlike most new generation
facilities, the APWRA has a very large number of overhead structures conducive to perching,
including lattice towers, tubular towers with external structures, and broken down turbines. Most
perching occurred when turbines were not operating.

Since perching structures are very abundant and not limited in the APWRA, perching may not be a
collision risk factor for raptors at the existing older turbines. Many of the new generation turbines,
including those proposed for this project, are designed to provide little perching and no nesting
structure (tubular towers, enclosed nacelle). Raptors are almost never observed perching on new
large and tall wind turbines (Kronner pers. comm., Young pers. comm., Jeffrey pers. comm.)
because most new turbines do not have platforms conducive to perching. However, American
kestrels were recently observed perching on anemometer equipment on some of the turbines at the
High Winds site and these anemometers have been retrofitted to eliminate this perching. Although
it is not clear that perching increases the risk of collision (Smallwood and Thelander 2004) the lack
of perching and nesting opportunities may discourage some bird species from using the wind
resource area, and specifically the project area, as intensively as they did previously.

It has been hypothesized that turbines with faster rotational speeds and shorter rotors may kill more
birds per energy output than larger turbines with slower rotational speeds and larger rotors, although
empirical data are very limited. Model-based analyses by Tucker (1996a,b) suggested that the
collision risk is lower for larger turbines than smaller turbines. His conclusions were primarily based
on the modeled probability of a raptor to successfully pass through the swept area of a larger turbine
compared to the smaller turbine, as well as the likelihood of raptors to avoid collision with the
interior of the swept area, where the rotors are much more visible. Turbines with larger rotor
diameter, and those with slower to intermediate blade tip speeds, killed disproportionately more
raptors in the APWRA during the recent NREL and CEC studies, but the ranges of turbines
contributing most substantially to these significant effects spanned the smallest to intermediate rotor
diameters and slowest to intermediate tip speeds (Smallwood and Thelander 2004). These analyses
were based on comparisons of single small and single large turbines, and did not account for
differences in rotor swept areas or energy production. Howell (1997) examined differences in fatality
rates between 56-100 lattice and KVS-33 lattice turbines at Altamont Pass and the Montezuma Hills
that adjusted for the differences in rotor swept areas among the two turbine types. The overall
fatality rates for the 56-100 downwind turbines on a per turbine basis were higher than for the 33-
meter rotor diameter, suggesting, in this case, that mortality was not related to rotor-swept area. A
study at Altamont (Hunt 2002) has provided some circumstantial evidence suggesting higher Golden
eagle mortality at the Kenetech 56-100 turbines compared to other turbine types. This higher
mortality may be the result of the closer proximity of the blades to the ground and the foraging
behavior of Golden eagles, which were often observed hunting within 3 meters of the ground.
While the sample sizes were relatively low in the Hunt (2002) study, the conclusion that blades reach
closer to the ground may put eagles more at risk of collision was also independently reached by
Smallwood and Thelander (2004), based on flight height characteristics of Golden eagles. While the
above research within the APWRA provides some information on the potential differences in risk

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                                                               CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


among turbines between 40 kW and 330 kW in size, empirical data are insufficiently available to
elucidate potential differences in fatality rates between small, older-generation turbines (e.g., 100 kW)
and large, newer-generation turbines (e.g., 1 kW to 1.8 kW).

While few nocturnal migrant fatalities have been documented in the Altamont Pass WRA, recent
studies at the High Winds site in Solano County have documented several likely nocturnal migrant
fatalities. Turbines on taller towers may kill more nocturnal migrating birds that typically fly at
altitudes much higher than the heights of small older-generation turbines. While there have been
numerous single fatality events recorded at communication structures that document several
hundred avian fatalities in one night, there have been only two events reported, both reasonably
small, at U.S. wind generation facilities. Fourteen nocturnal migrating passerines were observed at
two turbines during a single night at the Buffalo Ridge, Minnesota, Windplant during spring
migration (Johnson et al. 2002). Approximately 25-30 nocturnal migrating passerines were observed
at three turbines and a well lit substation at the Backbone Mountain, WV facility during one or two
nights of foggy weather (Linda Smith, pers. comm.).

Recent studies in the APWRA also found that wind turbines installed in wind wall configurations
were safer for birds, as were wind turbines within dense clusters of turbines and those forming the
interior of wind turbine strings (Smallwood and Thelander 2004). Wind turbines were most
dangerous at the ends of turbine strings, at the edges of gaps in strings, and at the edges of clusters
of wind turbines. The most isolated wind turbines killed disproportionately more birds.

Recent studies in the APWRA suggest that raptor use is higher near turbine strings than away from
turbine strings. Increased prey abundance near the turbine strings may be one factor related to the
increased use. Cattle congregate around wind turbines, perhaps due to the shade or wind-breaks
afforded by the towers (Smallwood and Thelander 2004). This concentration of cattle activity also
concentrates the distribution of cattle droppings (pats), which are fed upon by hundreds of
grasshoppers per pat. These grasshoppers are a food attractant for birds in the vicinity of wind
turbines, including American kestrel, Burrowing owl, and Red-tailed hawk. Smallwood and
Thelander (2004b) hypothesize that Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) might be particularly at risk
when these conditions exist in areas of owl use. Smallwood and Thelander (2004b) hypothesized
that it might be possible to relocate this concentration of food away from the wind turbines by
fencing off the area and excluding cattle from immediately around the turbines. Ground disturbance
near the wind turbines (roads and turbine pads) increases the vertical/horizontal edge near turbines,
which also may increase prey densities and raptor use (Smallwood and Thelander 2004). Higher
raptor use near wind turbines could also be influenced by the selection of ridges by raptors to take
advantage of updrafts.

Recent studies in the APWRA have also provided some information of the effectiveness of rodent
control programs in reducing the number of raptor fatalities within the APWRA. Based on
associations between fatality locations and levels of rodent control, the research suggests that
intensive rodent control may be effective in reducing the ground squirrel populations in some areas
of the wind farm, and may have contributed to lower Golden eagle mortality. However the research
also suggested that these rodent control measures are not effective for other species (e.g., Red-tailed

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CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


hawks) and fatality rates may actually increase in areas of intermediate control due to increases in
prey of non-target small mammals (e.g., pocket gophers). In addition, there is a general concern
about potential impacts of poisoning non-target bird and terrestrial species. The wind power
companies within the APWRA have agreed to no longer participate in the rodent control program,
although some landowners may be continuing such County administered control programs. The
primary landowner for the Buena Vista Wind Energy Project has agreed not to participate in the
control programs.

Smallwood and Thelander (2004) believe that repowering, especially with turbines on taller towers,
should reduce raptor mortality levels, because their empirical data showed most flights of raptors
occurred below the rotor planes of the proposed new turbines. Their prediction will not be tested
until turbines are indeed mounted on taller towers and monitoring is conducted. The proposed
project utilizes many of the research results described above in project design and turbine siting (see
Best Management Practices and Mitigation Measures below).

Raptor Mortality Prediction
Two approaches are used to predict overall raptor deaths per year resulting from the Buena Vista
Wind Energy Project. The average raptor mortality estimate in the APWRA most recently has been
estimated at 2.24 fatalities per MW per year, mostly from turbines less than 150 kW nameplate
production in size, and a small sample of 330 and 400 kW turbines. If the current Project yields
mortality estimates similar to the average per MW per year estimates from Smallwood and Thelander
(2004), then approximately 80 raptors per year would be expected to be killed for the 38-MW
project. The left column of numbers in Table 8-5 represent the mortality estimates of select raptor
species based on extrapolations of mortality estimates for the existing turbines in the entire
APWRA.

The prediction in Smallwood and Thelander (2004) that repowering with fewer turbines on taller
towers should significantly reduce mortality prompted a second approach to estimating raptor
mortality from the Buena Vista Wind Energy Project. This second approach factors in the apparent
differences in raptor flight behaviors in the APWRA relative to the height domains of the rotor
planes of the proposed new turbines. Based on flight height data in Smallwood and Thelander
(2004), the proportions under ‘Factor’ in Table 8-5 represent the proportions of flights of each
species recorded within the height domain of the planned wind turbines. Only 50% of Golden eagle
flights typically pass through the height domain of the planned turbines in the APWRA, so mortality
should only be 2.5 to 4 Golden eagles per year in the Buena Vista Wind Energy Project, or 50% less
than if the wind turbines were mounted on towers no higher than existing towers. However,
consider that this estimation method does not factor in the reduction in the number of
towers/turbines that will appear on the landscape; the Buena Vista Wind Energy Project reduces the
number of turbines from 179 to 38 (and possibly as few as 32), which substantially reduces the
number of obstacles to Golden eagles. This reduction should further reduce mortality, but we
currently lack the means to estimate this reduction.




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                                                            Table 8-6:
    Annual Mortality Projections of Select Species Unadjusted and Adjusted for Recorded
        Flight Heights in the APWRA and Planned Heights of Turbine Rotor Planes

        Species               Mortality projection           Adjusted for flight height                 Percentage mortality
                              unadjusted for new              distributions relative to                  reduction without
                              rotor plane heights           proposed new rotor heights              considering any other factors

                                                               Factor             Estimate

Golden eagle                          5 to 8                    0.50               2.5 to 4                        50%

Red-tailed hawk                    14.4 to 20.7                 0.37              5.3 to 7.7                       63%

American kestrel                      5 to 23                   0.14              0.7 to 3.2                       86%

Burrowing owl                      6.8 to 26.2                 0.00 a                  0                          100%

a Although flight height data for Burrowing owls are insufficient to conclude with high confidence that Burrowing owls will not fly
as high as the rotor planes of the new turbines, we regard the prospect as unlikely based on our experience with this species.




All Bird Mortality Prediction
Two approaches are also used to estimate total bird mortality. The first approach uses the upper
end estimates provided by Smallwood and Thelander (2004) of 8.1 bird fatalities/MW/year3 in the
APWRA. The 2nd approach uses the average bird fatality estimates (3.1 bird fatalities per MW per
year) from studies at new generation projects throughout the U.S. Based on these two values, it is
estimated that 100 to 300 bird fatalities per year will occur at the 38-MW wind project. Actual levels
of mortality are unknown and could be higher or lower. Other than the raptor species in the
previous section, bird species most commonly found as fatalities during the recent studies included
Rock dove, Mourning dove, European starling, Western meadowlark, Brown-headed cowbird, and
Mallard. These species are likely to be some of the more common species killed at the new turbines.
 Rock doves and European starlings are non-native species that are not protected under the MBTA.
 Nocturnal migrating songbirds may be more commonly killed at the new taller turbines than at the
existing smaller turbines.




3 this estimate was based on observed fatalities and adjustments for searcher efficiency and scavenging from a study at
the Stateline Wind Project in Oregon and Washington (Erickson et al. 2003)


DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                                                          PAGE 8-53
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Collision with Overhead Wires
Shorebirds, ducks, geese, cranes, and other waterbirds are most prone to collision with overhead
wires (i.e., utility wires, guy wires), primarily in low visibility conditions (Arend 1970, Anderson
1978, Avery et al. 1978, Brown et. al. 1985, and Faanes 1987). Generally speaking, collision with
overhead wires is not a major source of raptor mortality (Olendorff and Lehman 1986). BioSystems
Analysis, Inc. (1991) attributed 9% of the mortality in their wind farm study area to collision with
overhead wires. Most reported mortality was among non-raptor birds. All new collector lines will
be underground, and all existing overhead lines (8-miles) will be removed, greatly reducing the
collision impacts from overhead lines.

Best Management Practices and Recommended Mitigation Measures
The Project developer will conduct activities that can be described as best management practices.
These best management activities will have a measurable positive effect on wildlife habitat, especially
for avian species, over existing conditions. Best management practices included as part of the
Project include:

•   All existing turbines will be removed and the ground below these turbines reclaimed, eliminating
    179 perching structures in the Project Area, and decreasing the footprint of the project.

•   Electrical lines will be located underground eliminating electrocutions and collisions with
    overhead powerlines.

Additionally, the following mitigation measures are recommended:

MM 8-7a:           Cease Rodent Control Program: The Project developer shall not participate in
                   the rodent control programs on leased lands and will discourage landowners
                   from using poisoning for rodent control in the vicinity of the project. Recent
                   studies suggest moderate levels (intermittent) of rodent control may increase
                   raptor fatalities, and secondary impacts to terrestrial wildlife from rodent control
                   are a concern. The landowner with the largest number of turbines (Sousa) has
                   agreed not to use poisoning as a means of rodent control.

MM 8-7b:           Rock Piles. Rocks created during the excavation process will be used during
                   construction of foundations, and not left in piles near turbines.

MM 8-7c:           Gravel Turbine Base. Discourage small mammals from burrowing under or
                   near turbine bases. Place gravel at least 5 feet around each tower foundation to
                   discourage small mammals from burrowing near turbine bases.

MM 8-7d:           Increase Ground to Rotor Clearance. Turbine tower heights should be at
                   least 55 meters in height at sites where the FAA will allow that height, and 65
                   meters at the two higher risk turbines at the north end of the “C” String. The
                   taller tower heights would increase the ground to rotor clearance and likely


PAGE 8-54                                        DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                          CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


                 reduce raptor mortality, especially for Red-tailed hawks, Golden eagles, American
                 kestrels, and Burrowing owls.

MM 8-7e:         Ridge Crest Sites. Wherever feasible, turbines should not be sited on or
                 immediately adjacent to upwind side of ridge crest. Raptor use has been shown
                 in general to be higher on the prevailing upwind side of ridges at the Foote Creek
                 Rim Wind Project in Wyoming (Strickland 2001), and turbines sited away from
                 the rim edge may have contributed to low raptor fatality rates. This
                 recommendation has not been specifically tested in the APWRA, but has been
                 used in micro-siting turbines at the other sites, including the Stateline Wind
                 Project in Oregon and Washington.

MM 8-7f:         Un-Guyed Permanent Meteorological Towers. Studies at the Foote Creek
                 Rim Wind Project concluded that guyed meteorological towers may kill more
                 passerines per structure than turbines. Two new diagonal lattice or monopole
                 structures will be constructed on site for monitoring meteorological data and guy
                 wires shall not support these structures.

MM 8-7g:         Minimize Vertical and Lateral Edge. Turbine construction shall minimize
                 cutting into hill slopes in an attempt at achieve smooth rounded terrain rather
                 than sudden berm or cuts to potentially reduce prey abundance.

MM 8-7h:         Review Final Site Plan. Prior to obtaining a grading or building permit, the
                 Project applicant should submit a final site plan for review and approval by the
                 County Zoning Administrator demonstrating compliance with the standards
                 described in this document.

MM 8-7i:         Monitoring Program. A scientifically defensible monitoring program shall be
                 implemented to estimate the avian fatality rates from the new turbines, and
                 important covariates such as prey base and avian use (see Draft Monitoring
                 Program, Appendix E).

                 a) Standardized fatality monitoring and avian use and behavior studies shall be
                    conducted for a minimum of three years.

                 b) A technical advisory committee should be formed to oversee the program,
                    and propose additional mitigation and/or additional monitoring depending
                    on the results of the monitoring program.

                 c) Should additional mitigation be necessary, potential measures may include
                    off-site mitigation.




DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                          PAGE 8-55
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Resulting Level of Significance
Implementation of the above mitigation measures should help avoid and reduce, but not eliminate
all avian mortality. Therefore, this impact is found to be significant and unavoidable.




8.8    INDIRECT AVIAN IMPACTS
Impact 8-8         The presence of wind turbines may alter the landscape so that wildlife habitat use
                   patterns are altered, thereby displacing wildlife from the Project Area. This could
                   be a potentially significant impact.

Construction impacts to sensitive-status birds have been discussed previously.

The presence of wind turbines may alter the landscape so that wildlife habitat use patterns are
altered, thereby displacing wildlife from the Project Area. Habitat suitability for foraging birds could
be reduced by creating turbulence with turning blades, by creating barriers to raptor foraging flight
paths along ridge lines, or by influencing the flight paths of waterfowl as they fly over the project.
Noise created from wind turbine operation also could displace or discourage birds from using the
site.

In Europe, displacement effects related to wind plants are considered to have a greater impact on
birds than collision mortality, and several European studies have addressed this issue. Reduced use
by many groups of birds, including waterfowl, shorebirds, waders, and passerines, has been
documented for distances ranging from 75 meters to as far as 800 meters away from turbines
(Larsen and Madsen 2000, Peterson and Nohr 1989, Pederson and Poulsen 1991, Vauk 1990,
Winkelman 1989, Winkelman 1990, Winkelman 1992). Reductions in use of up to 95% have been
recorded (Winkelman 1994). Disturbance to breeding birds appears to be negligible and was
documented during only one study (Pedersen and Poulsen 1991). Most apparent disturbance has
involved feeding, resting, and migrating birds (Crockford 1992). Avoidance of turbines by Pink-
footed geese differed based on turbine arrangements; the avoidance distance of turbines arranged in
lines (75 to 125 m avoidance distance) was much lower than for turbines arranged in clusters (175 to
200 m avoidance distance) (Larsen and Madsen 2000). For other avian groups or species, or at other
European wind plants, however, no displacement effects were observed (Karlsson 1983, Phillips
1994, Winkelman 1989, and Winkelman 1990).

Avian displacement associated with windpower development has not received as much attention in
the U.S. At a large wind plant on Buffalo Ridge in Minnesota, the abundance of shorebirds,
waterfowl, upland gamebirds, woodpeckers, and several groups of passerines was found to be
statistically significantly lower at survey plots with turbines than at plots without turbines. There
were fewer differences in avian use as a function of distance from turbines, however, suggesting that
the area of reduced use was limited primarily to those areas within 100 meters of the turbines
(Johnson et al. 2000a). Some portion of these displacement effects is likely to be the result of direct


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                                                              CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


loss of habitat near the turbine for the turbine pad and associated roads. These results are similar to
those of Osborn et al. (1998), who reported that birds at Buffalo Ridge avoided flying in areas with
turbines. Also at Buffalo Ridge, Leddy et al. (1999) found that densities of male songbirds were
significantly lower in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands containing turbines than in
CRP grasslands without turbines. Grasslands without turbines and portions of grasslands located at
least 180 meters from turbines had bird densities four times greater than grasslands located near
turbines. Reduced avian use near turbines was attributed to avoidance of turbine noise and
maintenance activities and reduced habitat effectiveness because of the presence of access roads and
large gravel pads surrounding turbines (Leddy 1996, Johnson et al. 2000a).

At Foote Creek Rim, Wyoming, a population of Mountain plovers on top of the rim was reduced
from a mean of 50 during the two years prior to wind plant construction to a mean of 25 in the
three years following initiation of construction. Maps of plover use based on transect data indicated
that plovers were being displaced by the wind development (Johnson et al. 2000b). Construction
and operation of the Foote Creek Rim wind plant did not appear to cause reduced use of the wind
plant and adjacent areas by most other groups, including raptors, corvids, or passerines (Johnson et
al. 2000b). A pair of Golden eagles successfully nested 0.5 mile from the wind plant after one phase
was operational and another phase was under construction.

Nesting Burrowing owls are abundant within the APWRA, and do not appear to be disturbed by the
operations of the existing wind project. Several Burrowing owls have successfully nested near wind
turbines at the Stateline Wind Project in Oregon/Washington (Erickson et al. 2004), and do not
appear to be impacted from the operational wind project.

As previously stated in the Avian Collision Impacts Section, recent studies in the APWRA suggest
that raptor use is higher near turbine strings than away from turbine strings, which would suggest
the turbines do not reduce raptor use in the project area to a measurable degree.

Best Management Practices
The Project will result in implementation by the Project developer of activities that can be described
as best management practices. These best management activities have been discussed previously and
will have a measurable positive effect on wildlife habitat, especially for avian species, over existing
conditions. Best management practices included as part of the Project include:

•   All existing turbines will be removed and the ground below these turbines reclaimed, eliminating
    179 structures in the Project area, and decreasing the footprint of the project.

•   Approximately 5 miles of road along existing turbine strings will be removed and reclaimed.

Resulting Level of Significance
With the above best management practices, the indirect impacts to birds from construction and
operation of the project are considered less than significant.


DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                             PAGE 8-57
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


8.9    BAT COLLISION MORTALITY
Impact 8-9:        Operation of the Project could lead to bat mortality from collision with turbines,
                   and depending on the levels of mortality, could be considered a potentially
                   significant impact.

Operation of the Project is expected to result in some bat mortality from collision with wind
turbines. Bat research at other wind plants indicates that some bat species are at some risk of
collision with wind turbines, mostly during the late summer and fall migration season (Johnson et al.
2003a). Very few bats have been reported as fatalities at older wind projects in California, including
the APWRA, San Gorgonio, and Tehachapi Pass, although most studies have focused on
documenting raptor fatalities and have been conducted at very small, short turbines. Recent data
collected at the High Winds Site in Solano County suggest that some bat mortality may occur at this
Project. During the first 11 months of monitoring this past fall, 71 bat fatalities were reported,
including 39 Hoary bats, 22 Mexican free-tailed bats, and 3 Western red bats. Most of the fatalities
were documented in August and September.

Most bat fatalities found at wind plants outside California in the west and midwest have been
migratory bats, with Hoary, Silver-haired bats, and Eastern red bats being the most prevalent
fatalities. At the Buffalo Ridge Wind Plant, Minnesota, based on a 2-year study, bat mortality was
estimated to be 2.05 bats per turbine per year (Johnson et al. 2003a). At the Foote Creek Rim Wind
Plant, based on 3+ years of study, bat mortality was estimated at 1.34 bats per turbine per year
(Young et al. 2003). At the Vansycle Ridge Wind Plant in Oregon, bat mortality was estimated at
0.74 bats per turbine for the first year of operation (Erickson et al. 2000). At the Klondike Wind
Project, bat mortality was estimated at 1.16 bat fatalities per turbine per year (Johnson et al. 2003).
At the Stateline Wind Project, bat mortality was estimated at approximately 1.1 bat fatalities per
turbine per year (Erickson et al. 2004) from July 2001 through December 31, 2003. At the Nine
Canyon Wind Project, bat mortality was estimated at approximately 3 bat fatalities per turbine per
year (Erickson et al. 2003).

Some mortality of mostly migratory bats, especially Hoary and Mexican free-tailed bats, is
anticipated based on results at the High Winds Facility and other new facilities in the west. These
two species are common and widely distributed. Although potential future mortality of migratory
bats is difficult to predict, an estimate can be calculated based on levels of mortality documented at
other wind plants. Using the estimates from other western wind plants (1 to 3 per MW per year),
operation of the Project could result in approximately 40 to 125 bat fatalities per year, with Hoary
bats and Mexican free-tailed bats comprising most of the mortality. Actual levels of mortality are
unknown and could be higher or lower depending on regional migratory patterns of bats, patterns of
local movements through the area, and the response of bats to turbines, individually and collectively.




PAGE 8-58                                        DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT
                                                              CHAPTER 8 – BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES


Recommended Mitigation Measures
MM 8-9a:           Monitoring Program. A scientifically defensible monitoring program shall be
                   implemented to estimate the bat fatality rates from the new turbines (see Draft
                   Monitoring Program, Attachment X).

MM 8-9b:           Technical Advisory Committee. A Technical Advisory Committee should be
                   established as recommended in the Repowering Program. This TAC shall
                   evaluate monitoring results and if bat mortality is determined to be significant,
                   the TAC could recommend additional focused bat monitoring, or recommend
                   additional mitigation such as contributions for the conservation of bats (e.g., Bat
                   Conservation International).

Resulting Level of Significance
With the above monitoring and mitigation measures, and considering the species expected to be
found as fatalities are not sensitive status species, the impacts to bats are considered less than
significant.




8.10 WETLANDS
As discussed above (Sections 8.3.1 and 8.3.3), alkali meadow, stock ponds, and creeks/drainages
would likely qualify as waters of the United States under Section 404 of the CWA. The general
locations of these areas are shown in Figure 8-1. No other potential waters of the United States
were identified in the Project Area. However wetland delineation studies suitable for submittal to
the US Army Corps of Engineers for the purposes of permitting fill activities was not conducted as
part of this EIR. Based on the Project description and current design, no waters of the United
States or other waters are proposed to be disturbed or filled as part of the proposed project, and a
Section 404 permit will not be required.

However, as noted above under Stock Ponds and Perennial Drainages, a wetland delineation should
be prepared for such areas within 200 feet of any Project features to provide guidance to the
designers and builders of the Project in order to ensure avoidance of these features. The delineation
should be submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers for verification. Setbacks and mitigation
strategies as described in mitigation measures above should be applied to all identified wetland areas.
 If avoidance of fill in jurisdictional wetlands is not possible, impacts should be mitigated according
to a Section 404 permit, which would include consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and
certification by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Fill in other waters (non-jurisdictional
wetlands) would also be subject to regulation by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

With implementation of mitigation measures identified above, the Project’s impact on wetlands is
considered to be less than significant.


DRAFT EIR – BUENA VISTA WIND ENERGY PROJECT                                             PAGE 8-59
CHAPTER 8: BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES




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