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Timber Harvesting Safety

Lake States Forest Management Bat Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) TAC meeting, December 15, 2017

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Background

  • There is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the potential federal listing of cave-dwelling bats; therefore, the Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin DNRs decided a proactive and strategic approach was appropriate to minimize potential impacts to sustainable forest management.
  • White-nose syndrome continues to spread and decimate cave-dwelling bats across the U.S.
  • Four environmental groups have sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) over the northern long-eared bat 4(d) rule.
  • The Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife have jointly petitioned the USFWS to consider listing the tricolored bat.
  • WI, MI, MN are jointly developing the Lake States HCP to obtain a federal Incidental Take Permit (ITP) under Section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the incidental take of bats during forest management activities.
  • Funded with federal grants; contracts administered by Michigan DNR
  • Contractor (ICF International) hired to develop HCP
  • Steering Committee of representatives from each state DNR, and USFWS
  • If ITP is NOT in place prior to a bat species being listed as endangered, forest landowners will have to consult with the USFWS on a case by case basis to avoid incidental take.
  • Covered species include:
  • Indiana Bat, federally endangered
  • Northern Long-eared Bat, federally threatened
  • Little Brown Bat, currently under review
  • Tri-colored Bat, currently under review
  • Covered activities include
  • Timber harvest and related forest practices
  • Road and trail construction, maintenance & use
  • Prescribed fire
  • Covered lands include
  • State lands - 9.2 million acres (MI: 4.6 million)
  • Private lands - 32.0 million acres (MI: 12.5 million)
  • County and municipal lands - 5.5 million acres (MI: 0.4 million)
HCP Development and Progress to Date
  • HCP a required step in obtaining an ITP, and includes
  • Identify covered species, lands, and activities
  • Identify the amount of take anticipated and covered
  • Describes how take would be avoided and minimized
  • Describes how unavoidable take would be mitigated
  • Describes how landowners would be included
  • The HCP will likely be structured to allow voluntary “opt-in” by individual landowners through a Certificate of Inclusion
  • Certificates of Inclusion (possible approach)
  • Incidental Take Permits will be issued by USFWS to each state DNR
  • Forest landowners could apply to DNR for Certificate of Inclusion
  • Each DNR would issue Certificates of Inclusion to landowners within their state
  • No party would be liable for breach of obligations by any other party
  • Currently discussing options for including coverage for landowners below a certain size ownership (e.g., <50 acres)
  • Exact process each state will use to cover non-state landowners is under development
  • Administering the COI program could require significant resources
  • Status of HCP Chapter Review by Steering Committee
  • Chapter 1: Introduction, completed
  • Chapter 2: Covered Activities, completed
  • Chapter 3: Environmental Setting, completed
  • Chapter 4: Impacts Analysis, in progress
  • Chapter 5: Conservation Strategy, November
  • Chapter 6: Implementation, November
  • Chapter 7: Funding, December
  • Chapter 8: Alternatives, December
  • HCP Stakeholder Review (tentative schedule)
  • January 2018: Chapters 1-3 available for stakeholder review.
  • February 2018: Chapters 4 & 5 available for stakeholder review.
  • March 2018: Chapters 6-8 available for stakeholder review.
  • Draft of entire completed HCP available for public review later in 2018.
  • Development of NEPA Document
  • Parallel process by USFWS to determine if EIS or EA is warrented
  • Has own public engagement process with separate website (under development)
  • Conducts scoping meetings (likely in webinar format)
  • How to Participate
  • Michigan will engage the FMAC and TAC for input
    • Provide feedback on draft HCP chapters.
  • Comment on public HCP draft which will be posted in the Federal Register by USFWS sometime in 2018.
  • Participate in FWS NEPA scoping meetings.
  • State DNR HCP Webpages:
  • WI: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestPlanning/hcp/bats.html
  • MN: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/bathcp/index.html
  • MI: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_12141-427168--,00.html
  • Michigan Steering Committee Members
  • Don Mankee, Forest Resources Division, West UP District Manager: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 906-353-6651 x 109
Dan Kennedy, Wildlife Division, Endangered Species Coordinator: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 517-284-6194