U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues Incidental Take Permit for Pine Tree Wind Farm in Kern County

 

December 9, 2023

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an incidental take permit for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Pine Tree Wind Farm, located in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area in Kern County. The permit covers the incidental take of up to two free-flying California condors and two associated eggs or chicks over 30 years.

As part of the application for the permit, LADWP developed a conservation plan with measures to minimize risk to condors at the Pine Tree Wind Farm, including a system to detect approaching condors and to curtail operation of wind turbines if a condor is at risk of collision. Implementation of a monitoring program also ensures plan compliance over the life of the permit.

"Conservation plans provide a mechanism for wind energy projects to minimize impacts to condors and help us recover this federally endangered species," said Scott Sobiech, field supervisor for the Carlsbad and Palm Springs Fish and Wildlife offices. "We have been working with the wind industry in Kern County for close to a decade, and our partnerships with LADWP and others are vital to achieving our conservation mission in Southern California."

Additionally, LADWP will work with the Oregon Zoo to fund the breeding of additional California condors for release into the wild to offset the potential loss of any adult condors, eggs or chicks. Captive breeding and releases of California condors are essential to support population growth and have contributed to progress in recovery of the species.

Several wind energy projects including the Pine Tree Wind Farm began operations in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area before the Southern California flock of condors expanded its range through the Tehachapi Mountains to the Sierra Nevada. No condors have been killed at a wind energy project, but as the birds expand their range, the permits issued by the Service commit wind energy producers to minimizing and mitigating harm while continuing their operations.

Since 2013, the Service has been working with wind companies to minimize the risk to California condors at existing wind energy projects in Kern County and to support the recovery of this species. The Service issued an incidental take permit for condors to the existing Manzana Wind Power Project in June 2021, and in June 2023, issued a single incidental take permit to the Wind Energy Condor Action Team (WECAT) that includes 24 member companies that each owns and operates a wind energy project. These permits also include conservation plans with measures to minimize and mitigate potential impacts to condors and monitor permit compliance.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov and connect with us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube.

 
 

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