Studies in connection with Castle & Cooke Resorts LLC’s plans to operate seven meteorological towers on Lana’i to gather data for a proposed wind-energy farm have identified four flying animal species that may be affected by the project.
The company is seeking an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has prepared a draft habitat conservation plan and environmental assessment to minimize the effects on the endangered Hawaiian petrel (‘ua’u), the endangered Hawaiian stilt (ae’o), the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat (‘ope’ape’a), and the threatened Newell’s shearwater (‘a’o).
Six of the seven 165-foot towers already have been built on land owned by Castle & Cooke. The company plans to build the remaining tower and operate all seven for a period of up to two years to collect data on wind patterns, according to permit documents.
Each tower rests on a steel base plate approximately 9 square feet in size and is supported by aircraft-cable guy wires in four directions at six levels. The guy wire radius is 100 feet to 110 feet.
The meteorological towers cover an area of approximately 13 acres, the reports said.
The permit is required when nonfederal activities that are incidental to carrying out otherwise lawful activities are likely to result in harm to a threatened or endangered species.
No listed species are known to inhabit the area within the immediate vicinity of the towers, according to the studies. The only “incidental take” expected to occur involves flying animals hitting the towers and guy wires.
As part of the permit process, Castle & Cooke prepared a draft habitat conservation plan and environmental assessment that are now available for public review.
Under the draft conservation plan, the company is proposing to minimize effects to the four species by placing the towers as far from the island’s Hawaiian petrel colony and Newell’s shearwater nesting habitat as possible, and to mark the towers and guy wires with bird diverters and flagging to increase visibility.
Other measures include monitoring the towers for dead or injured birds and bats, conducting predator control within the petrel colony, shearwater nesting habitat and hoary bat habitat, and at the Lana’i wastewater treatment plant where Hawaiian stilts nest.
Another proposal calls for removing invasive plants such as strawberry guava to encourage native vegetation within forest areas adjacent to animals’ habitat.
The environmental assessment considers the direct, indirect and cumulative effects of the proposed project and examines alternatives, including use of monopole towers that do not require the use of guy wires, but do require a much larger foundation base.
13 July 2008
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