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Salamanders at wind project to get replacement habitat  

Credit:  Barry Eberling, Daily Republic, www.dailyrepublic.com 12 January 2012 ~~

MONTEZUMA HILLS – A rare 8-inch-long salamander must have its habitat preserved before 50 new wind turbines with 262-foot-tall towers can go up in the Montezuma Hills, according to a federal agency.

And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a proposed plan to do just that.

The company called enXco wants to put up the electricity generating turbines as part of its Shiloh IV project. But first, it must satisfy the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the California tiger salamander won’t be harmed by the project, given that the area has ponds where the salamander can breed.

People can comment on an agency plan through March 10. This plan calls for replacing the 25 acres of salamander habitat to be lost to the project with 39 acres of habitat at another location.

Please go to http://www.fws.gov/sacramento/ to see the salamander preservation plan.

The proposed salamander habitat conservation plan allows enXco to buy credits in a conservation bank. These banks are areas set aside for types of habitat that developers can help preserve by paying a fee.

California tiger salamanders grow as long as 8 inches long and are black with yellow spots. They are rarely seen even where they are abundant because they live most of their lives underground. During the fall or winter rainy season, they come out from the ground at night to go to their breeding ponds, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report said.

With the Shiloh IV project, 50 modern turbines will replace 255 smaller turbines that date back to about 1990. The new turbines are to be spread over more than 3,000 acres and will provide electricity to the PG&E grid. Each new turbine will have a foundation 24 feet in diameter. The project calls for 16 miles of new roads so vehicles can reach the towers.

The Solano County Planning Commission approved the Shiloh IV project at its Dec. 15, 2011 meeting.

Montezuma Hills south of Highway 12 between Suisun City and Rio Vista is home to some 800 turbines, including the Shiloh III project that enXco constructed last summer.

Source:  Barry Eberling, Daily Republic, www.dailyrepublic.com 12 January 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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