Northern Long-Eared Bat Regulations

Attached below as a PDF file for downloading is a just released “special public notice” from the Baltimore District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), regarding the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis).

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According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) Public Notice #15-39, and through the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), if a screening in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania or Delaware reveals possible northern long-eared bat summer habitat and the land development project involves a contiguous area of permanent tree clearing that is equal to or greater than 1 acre and for which the tree clearing has not been completed before June 25, 2015, the permittee must refrain from any tree clearing activity between April 15 and September 1 of any year, or agree to conduct summer habitat surveys for bats between June 1 and August 15.  If no northern long-eared (federally threatened) or Indiana (federally endangered) bats are found, no tree clearing restrictions are required.

The FWS, Annapolis Field Office has clarified their position as of July 7, 2015 by stating the following:

Projects Previously Authorized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District:  For projects involving permanent clearing occurring this summer (2015), the Chesapeake Bay Field Office will only be evaluating previously authorized projects where there are known maternity roosts.  If your project will occur through August 2015 and is located in Garrett County MD or New Castle County DE County, contact the Chesapeake Bay Field Office.

Projects Not Yet Authorized:  At this time, if permanent tree clearing is proposed for your project please contact the Chesapeake Bay Field Office to discuss the project.  Avoiding take by cutting trees outside the active season (clearing between September 1 and April 15) or obtaining site specific surveys for the presence or absence of northern long-eared bats are two ways for a project to meet Section 7 obligations.

Note: With new information, criteria on which projects will be reviewed may change.  Any updates will be posted to the FWS Endangered Species Project review page at http://www.fws.gov/chesapeakebay/endsppweb/ProjectReview/Index.html

 

The FWS contacts are as follows:

Endangered Species Project Review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office, 177 Admiral Cochrane Drive, Annapolis, MD 21401.

Trevor Clark (410-573-4527), trevor_clark@fws.gov

Devin Ray (410-573-4531), devin_ray@fws.gov

Cherry Keller (410-573-4532), cherry_keller@fws.gov

 

The guidelines for summer survey bat monitoring can be found at:

http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/mammals/inba/inbasummersurveyguidance.html

General information about the FWS 4(d) Rule can be found at:

http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/mammals/nlba/

The actual ACOE Special Public Notice 15-39, Northern Long-Eared Bat is attached as a PDF download:

Northern Long-Eared Bat Requirements under ESA

 

ESA, Inc. performs/provides all aspects of wetland delineation and permitting services.  We have clients that are affected by these new regulations.  ESA can help the land development community comply with the ACOE Special Public Notice #15-39 by providing FWS letters of commitment, perform bat habitat surveys and/or bat presence/absence surveys.  Contact Mark Burchick at 410-267-0495 x203 (Environmental System Analysis, Inc., 2141 Priest Bridge Drive, Suite 1, Crofton, MD 21114).

Highlights of a bat survey that ESA managed last week can be found at:

https://mfburchick.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/bat-survey/

 

I spoke to Cherry Keller, PhD who manages the bat program for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), Chesapeake Bay Field Office on 7/9/15 and obtained clarification on a few bat related issues.  The following is the results of our conversation.

Question:  We have land development clients that believe that the FWS Northern Long-Eared Bat (NLEB) regulations only apply if they have an active wetlands/waters permit through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).  Our understanding however, is that any land development project within NLEB summer habitat, which consists of all of Maryland, comes under the requirement to refrain from clearing if greater than an acre, from April 15 through September 1, or agree to conduct a bat survey from June 1 through August 15.  If no NLEB (federally threatened) or Indiana (federally endangered) bats are confirmed through the survey, they can then proceed with tree clearing.  Is this the case, and who will implement the regulations in Maryland?

Answer:  The FWS NLEB regulations apply to any/all land development clearing activities, not just ones permitted through the Corps.  The FWS, Annapolis Field Office has authority through the Endangered Species Act to implement and administer the tree clearing regulations, in protection of rare bat species.  The FWS will be working with Federal, State and Municipal governments for assistance in “enforcing” these new regulations.  If your land development project includes tree clearing for this summer of 2015 we will evaluate your current project if it located near known maternity roosts in Garrett County MD or New Castle County DE, otherwise you are allowed to proceed with tree clearing operations.

Question:  For projects coming on-line in the near future what do we tell our land development clients?  They would like to know that they can proceed at will without any regulators stopping the tree clearing portion of their project.

Answer:  At this time, if tree clearing is proposed for your project please contact the Chesapeake Bay Field Office to discuss.  Breeding NLEB occur in the panhandle of Maryland and are uncommon on the piedmont and coastal plain.  The best way to comply is to perform tree cutting operations from September 1 through April 15, when bats are not actively breeding and rearing young at their summer roost sites.  If clearing needs to occur from April 15 through September 1, we will likely require that a presence/absence bat survey be performed.

We will be developing thresholds in the near future and will at a minimum, recommend that any tree clearing of 15-acres or more require a field survey, with the preferred methodology including mist net capture.  When contacting us please provide an aerial map with property boundary showing where and how many acres of clearing is being proposed, which will allow us to provide you with site specific guidance.

An interesting link for bat species profiles:

http://www.batcon.org/resources/media-education/species-profiles

 

 

 

 

 

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