We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are proposing to issue an eagle incidental take permit (eagle take permit) under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act) (16 United States Code [U.S.C.] §§ 668–668d and 50 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 22.26) for take of eagles that is incidental to otherwise lawful operation of the Leaning Juniper I Wind Facility (Leaning Juniper I or Project). The Service’s proposal to issue an eagle take permit constitutes a discretionary Federal action that is subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq.). This Final Environmental Assessment (Final EA) is tiered to the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Eagle Rule Revision (PEIS; USFWS 2016b). Our proposed action and preferred alternative is Alternative 2 – to issue a 30-year permit to the applicant based on their Eagle Conservation Plan (ECP; Appendix A) and other application materials. Two alternatives to the proposed action analyzed in this Final EA are to deny the issuance of the permit, also called the No Action Alternative (Alternative 1) and to issue a 30-year permit with additional requirements, above and beyond what is required to meet permit issuance criteria (Alternative 3). Denying the issuance of this eagle take permit (Alternative 1) would result in no requirement for monitoring, adaptive management, or compensatory mitigation to offset predicted impacts of the Project. Issuing a 30-year permit with additional requirements (Alternative 3) would provide greater benefit for eagles, but the additional measures are not required to meet permit issuance criteria or the Service’s population management objectives for either eagle species.
We received a completed application for a 30-year eagle take permit from PacifiCorp (PacifiCorp, or the Applicant) on December 16, 2019, requesting authorization of nonpurposeful or “incidental” take of Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles under the Eagle Act for operational activities associated with the Project. The Applicant’s ECP (Appendix A) is the foundation of the permit application and is referenced frequently herein. The analyses in this EA consider the potential effects on the human environment under the two action alternatives as compared with the No Action Alternative