|(614) 469-6923/ FAX (614) 469-6919
5 April 2005
Watershed Group Leader
Wayne National Forest
13700 US Hwy 33
Nelsonville, OH 45764
Dear Mr. Willison:
This letter is in response to your March 23, 2005, request for site-specific review, pursuant to section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, regarding the Essex Doser on Sycamore Hollow Creek off of SR 216 in Hocking County of the Athens Ranger District of the Wayne National Forest (WNF). The watershed project will remediate acid mine drainage by installing a lime kiln dust doser. A total of 0.08 acres of forested habitat will be impacted due to doser pad placement and access road construction. This review represents a Tier 2 consultation, as explained below.
On September 20, 2001, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a programmatic biological opinion (PBO) for the Wayne National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan). This PBO established a two-tiered consultation process for Forest Plan activities, with issuance of the programmatic opinion being Tier 1 and all subsequent site-specific project analyses constituting Tier 2 consultations. Under this tiered process, the Service will produce “tiered” biological opinions when it is determined that site-specific projects are likely to adversely affect federally listed species. When “may affect” but “not likely to adversely affect” determinations are made, we will provide written concurrence and section 7(a)(2) consultation will be considered completed for those site-specific projects.
In issuing the PBO (Tier 1 biological opinion), we evaluated the effects of all Forest Service actions outlined in your Biological Evaluation on the Federally listed Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus), northern monkshood (Aconitum noveboracense), running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum), small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides), Virginia spiraea (Spiraea virginiana), fanshell mussel (Cyprogenia stegaria), and the pink mucket pearly mussel (Lampsilis abrupta). We concurred with your determinations of “not likely to adversely affect” for northern monkshood (Aconitum noveboracense), running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum), small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides), Virginia spiraea (Spiraea virginiana), fanshell mussel (Cyprogenia stegaria), and the pink mucket pearly mussel (Lampsilis abrupta). We also concurred with your determination of “likely to adversely affect” for Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), and American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus).
Your current request for Service review of the Essex Doser project is a Tier 2 consultation under the September 20, 2001, PBO. We have reviewed the information contained in the Biological Evaluation (BE), submitted by your office on March 23, 2005, describing the effects of the proposed project on the above federally listed species. We agree that the proposed action will have no effect on the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), fanshell mussel (Cyprogenia stegaria), pink mucket pearly mussel (Lampsilis abrupta), American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus), running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum), small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides) and northern monkshood (Aconitum noveboracense), and thus, no further consultation is required for those species.
We concur with your determination that the action is likely to adversely affect the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). As such, this review focuses on determining whether: (1) this proposed site-specific project falls within the scope the Tier 1 PBO, (2) the effects of this proposed action are consistent with those anticipated in the Tier 1 PBO, and (3) the appropriate terms and conditions associated with the reasonable and prudent measures identified in the Tier 1 PBO are adhered to.
That is, this letter serves as the Tier 2 biological opinion for the proposed Essex Doser project. As such, this letter also provides the level of incidental take that is anticipated and a cumulative tally of incidental take that has been authorized and exempted under the PBO.
Description of the Proposed Action
Pages 3-6 of your Wildlife BE includes the location and a thorough description of the proposed action. The action as proposed involves installation of a doser to treat effluent from the Essex Mine. The doser will be installed on a 15 foot x 15 foot pad on the bank of Sycamore Creek. A 200 foot x 16 foot maintenance road would be permanently established at the site. In addition, two 2-inch pipes will be buried from the water intake to the doser at about 2.5 feet deep. These activities will include removing some small trees and saplings. Two trees with Indiana bat roosting characteristics occur on the site and will be avoided. The road and doser pad will account for 0.08 acres of permanent loss of forest cover.
Status of the Species
Species descriptions, life histories, population dynamics, status and distributions are fully described on pages 11-14 for the Indiana bat in the PBO and are hereby incorporated by reference. Since issuance of the Service’s PBO, additional surveys of the abandoned limestone mine in Lawrence County recorded 208 Indiana bats using the mine in 2003 and 333 Indiana bats in 2005. Rangewide status estimate of the Indiana bat based on hibernacula censuses in 2003 is 387,301 individuals. This is up slightly from 2001.
Since the issuance of the PBO in 2001, the environmental baseline has only changed minimally. On the WNF 5,346.06 acres have been applied towards your incidental take, of which only 647.43 acres are for projects that have been implemented. Most of this anticipated incidental take is for prescribed fire projects that are planned to be completed before 2006.
The entire Wayne NF is considered potential habitat for the Indiana bat and suitable habitat exists within and surrounding the project area. There are no suitable mine openings on the site that could be used as hibernacula. The Essex mine is inundated with water. Although no mist net surveys have occurred within the project area, the project location is within four miles of a summer capture site for Indiana bats.
Effects of the Action
Based on our analysis of the information provided in your BE for the Essex Doser project, we have determined that the effects of the proposed action are consistent with those contemplated in the PBO.
Adverse effects to the Indiana bat from this project could occur due to the removal of potential roost trees. Although potential roost trees were identified along the project footprint and will be avoided, impacts to the Indiana bat may result in direct mortality or injury to individuals or small groups of roosting bats during the felling of other trees that may harbor undetected roosts. In addition, placement of the doser and road will result in permanent habitat loss for the Indiana bat. Although direct impacts may not be avoided, implementation of the terms and conditions associated with the reasonable and prudent measures (RPMs) provided on pages 36-40 in the programmatic biological opinion will minimize adverse effects. Installation of the doser may have an indirect beneficial effect by improving water quality downstream of the site. Reduced acid mine drainage could lead to increased aquatic insect production and improved foraging for the Indiana bat.
We believe the proposed Essex Doser project is consistent with the PBO. After reviewing site specific information, including 1) the scope of the project, 2) the environmental baseline, 3) the status of the Indiana bat and its potential occurrence within the project area and surrounding Wayne NF land, 4) the effects of the action, and 5) any cumulative effects, it is the Service’s biological opinion that this project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the Indiana bat.
Incidental Take Statement
The Service anticipates that the proposed action will result in the incidental take of 0.08 acres of potential Indiana bat habitat through activities associated with road construction. This anticipated level brings the cumulative total of incidental take for the implementation of the WNF’s Forest Plan to 18.86 acres for road construction. This level is well within the 94 acres of incidental take anticipated and exempted for road construction projects through September 2006. As explained above, we determined that this level of anticipated and exempted take of Indiana bats from the proposed project, in conjunction with the other management actions taken by the WNF pursuant to the PBO to date, is not likely to result in jeopardy to the species (for further information, see pages 22-28 in the PBO).
We understand that the Forest Service is implementing all pertinent Indiana bat RPMs and implementing Terms and Conditions stipulated on pages 36-40 of the PBO. These measures in addition to avoiding the two identified potential roost trees will minimize the impact of the anticipated incidental take.
This fulfills your section 7(a)(2) requirements for this action; however, should the proposed project be modified or the level of take identified above be exceeded, the Forest Service should promptly reinitiate consultation as outlined in 50 CFR 402.16. As provided in 50 CFR §402.16, reinitiation of formal consultation is required where discretionary Federal agency involvement or control over the action has been retained (or is authorized by law) and if: (1) the amount or extent of incidental take is exceeded; (2) new information reveals effects of the continued implementation of the Wayne National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (as amended) and projects predicated upon it may affect listed species in a manner or to an extent not considered in this opinion; (3) the continued implementation of the Wayne National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (as amended) and projects predicated upon it is subsequently modified in a manner that causes an effect to Federally-listed species not considered in this opinion; or (4) a new species is listed or critical habitat designated that may be affected by the action. In instances where the amount or extent of incidental take is exceeded, any operations causing such take must cease, pending reinitiation. Requests for reinitiation, or questions regarding reinitiation, should be directed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Reynoldsburg, Ohio Field Office.
We appreciate your continued efforts to ensure that this project is consistent with all provisions outlined in the PBO. If you have any questions regarding our response or if you need additional information, please contact Sarena Selbo at extension 17.
Mary M. Knapp, Ph.D.