The US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) Kentucky Field Office recently began notifying project proponents that the Imperiled Bat Conservation Fund (IBCF) is no longer an option to mitigate tree clearing on projects with a federal permitting requirement.  The IBCF is a mitigation option available through the USFWS Kentucky Field Office’s Revised Conservation Strategy for Forest-Dwelling Bats that allows project proponents to pay a fee for limited tree clearing activities where there is a potential for Indiana or Northern Long-Eared Bat habitat.  Due to questions of the scientific basis of the program by out of state USFWS personnel, the IBCF will be unavailable as a mitigation option pending an internal review.  This important program is used by a wide variety of land developers from home builders to utility companies to expeditiously address impacts to potential forested habitat of the Indiana or Northern Long-Eared Bat.  A formal announcement by the USFWS is anticipated in the coming days.

Smith Management Group contacted representatives of the USFWS Kentucky Field Office and learned that projects that initiated consultation and received a project specific consultation code prior to October 6, 2017 may still use this IBCF fund to mitigate for tree clearing activities where concerns over listed bat habitat is an issue.  A project specific consultation code is typically generated when requesting an official species list from the USFWS IPAC website or through submittal of project information to the USFWS Kentucky Field Office.  SMG also learned that projects that do not have a consultation code from before October 6 may be required to either cut potential habitat trees only during the winter months (October-March), conduct habitat assessments or mist net surveys of the project, or initiate formal consultation with USFWS through a Biological Opinion.

If you have a prospective project that may be impacted by this policy change, please feel free to contact us.  Josiah Frey is an Environmental Scientist at Smith Management Group and can be contacted by email at josiahf@smithmanage.com or by phone at 859-231-8936, ext. 115.