Mitigating impacts to protected species is a key step for projects, large or small. To help minimize and offset impacts to bald and golden eagles as regulated by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issues Eagle Incidental Take Permits (EITPs). These permits allow for the incidental take of eagles when properly mitigated.
One successful mitigation approach is to retrofit high-risk utility circuits in eagle habitats to meet Avian Power Line Interaction Committee recommendations. This is often a complex process, requiring the coordination of the USFWS, utilities operating in high-quality eagle habitats and the permittee. The complexity of finding a specific mitigation retrofit offset can result in the delayed issuance of permits, affecting both compliance efforts and the development of new projects.
The USFWS has recently supported a nationwide approach to mitigation, which provides landscape-wide benefits to eagles and allows development projects to move forward without delay.
Our Eagle Protection and Offset Program (EPOP) is focused on providing a nationwide, long-term solution that meets a 30-year compliance period by rebuilding, reframing or replacing circuits. The EPOP works similarly to a conservation bank, where the use of credits helps permittees save time and eliminate permitting uncertainties.
The team of environmental scientists and project managers leading the EPOP works directly with an EITP permittee to review the project location and identify potential impacts and required offsets. The program then collaborates with utility partners to complete necessary retrofits. This approach will provide long-term EITP compensatory mitigation offsets and improved conservation for eagles across the U.S.
Development can impact protected species; however, it does not need to delay or prevent a project from achieving success. Specialized experience and knowledge helps to keep projects moving forward with certainty.