What the Final 4(d) Rule Means for Project Planning and Compliance.
In April of 2015, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) published its final rule to list the Northern Long-Eared Bat (NLEB) as a threatened species and provided an interim 4(d) rule with a request for comments from the public. Under the interim rule, purposeful and incidental take prohibitions were announced for the bat’s native habitats and regions designated as White-Nosed Syndrome (WNS) areas, or those areas where this deadly fungal outbreak responsible for the declining bat population has been identified.
On January 14, 2016, the scope of prohibitions set under the interim rule was reduced when the Service published its final 4(d) rule regarding the NLEB. According to the final 4(d) rule, all purposeful take is prohibited, save for in a few circumstances, including the protection of human life and property. Within the WNS area, incidental take is prohibited within a hibernaculum or as the result of tree removal within 0.25 mile of a known hibernaculum or within 150 feet of a known, occupied maternity roost tree during the pup season (June 1 through July 31). There are no prohibitions on incidental take outside of the WNS area.
For companies operating within the 37 states the bat currently inhabits, the restrictions outlined under the final rule likely won’t halt land development, pipeline routing or other projects. They do, however, create additional permitting and compliance restrictions, siting considerations, and paperwork that, without the proper knowledge, could result in significant and costly project delays.
At EDGE, we pride ourselves on maintaining up-to-the-minute knowledge of government regulatory changes and offer a range of services to assist our clients in addressing the challenges new restrictions may present. From feasibility and fatal flaws analyses that include GIS and GPS mapping to environmental assessments and endangered species consultations, we provide a more accurate understanding of site features and other environmental factors for improved planning, accelerated permitting and an enhanced understanding of what it takes to get your project off the ground and keep it moving forward.
Read the entire Federal Register Final 4(d) Rule here.
Sources: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
WNS Zone Map*
*Updated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on the first of every month.
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