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BPSDEIS Feb 2011 Part 2 of 3 Cape Vincent

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(Bartramia longicauda), grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), and vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus).80 Point Peninsula hosts the most significant concentration of wintering raptors documented in New York State. The approximately 2,000-acre area is located south of the Cape Vincent Project Area and is a mosaic of habitats including active farmland, old fields, some woodlots and conifer plantations. The area is used by a variety of wintering raptor species including northern harrier, sho
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  ERM-Southwest, Inc.Texas Registered Engineering Firm F-2393 114 (Bartramia longicauda), grasshopper sparrow ( Ammodramus savannarum ), andvesper sparrow ( Pooecetes gramineus ). 80   Point Peninsula hosts the most significant concentration of wintering raptorsdocumented in New York State.  The approximately 2,000-acre area is locatedsouth of the Cape Vincent Project Area and is a mosaic of habitats includingactive farmland, old fields, some woodlots and conifer plantations.  The area isused by a variety of wintering raptor species including northern harrier, short-eared owl, long-eared owl ( Asio otus ), rough-legged hawk ( Buteo lagopus ), red-tailed hawk ( Buteo jamaicensis ), and snowy owl ( Bubo scandiacus ).  Several otherraptor species, including bald eagles ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus ), have beenobserved at Point Peninsula, but the extent to which these species use the area isnot well known. 81   In addition, the NYSDEC has conducted over-winter surveys for raptors withinand adjacent to the study area and has documented short-eared owls, northernharriers, red-tailed hawks and other species within the Project.  Information fromthese surveys has been incorporated into project planning as part of the Article11 Incidental Take Permit application.  2.10  TERRESTRIAL AND AQUATIC ECOLOGY: IMPACTS  The Project is designed to reduce permanent impacts on undisturbed(unmanaged) vegetation communities and avoid impacts to threatened andendangered species or significant ecological habitats.  All permanent facilities(wind turbines, the electrical substation, and operations and maintenancefacilities) and temporary construction facilities (construction staging areas andthe batch concrete plant) will be located in upland habitats and attempts havebeen made to site these facilities in disturbed habitats such as agricultural areasthat provide limited wildlife habitat.  2.10.1   General Impacts to Local Habitats  2.10.1.1 Temporary Impacts  Temporary impacts to natural habitats and wildlife will occur duringconstruction of access roads and the transmission lines.  Temporary impacts thatwould result from the construction of the Project potentially include: ã temporary disturbance of natural habitats; ã elevated noise levels in the vicinity of construction activities; ã wildlife mortality due to interactions between animals and machinery duringconstruction; and ã temporary displacement of disturbance-tolerant species from habitatsadjacent to Project facilities during construction.  80 NYSDOS, 2007c. 81 NYSDOC, 2007d.  ERM-Southwest, Inc.Texas Registered Engineering Firm F-2393 115  To the extent possible, access roads at the site are located within uplands andagricultural areas and avoid forests, wetlands, and other natural habitats.However, there are some turbine locations that require access that willnecessitate impacts on natural habitats.  Impacts to these areas will be followedby restoration of the affected area, as recommended by NYSDEC and USACE(for Waters of U.S.).  As discussed in previous sections, the Project Area is amosaic of vegetation and habitats that include agricultural fields, pasture andhay meadows, deciduous woodlands, forested wetlands, rural homes, farms, anddeveloped areas.  Construction of the Project will inevitably result in some levelof habitat fragmentation, though the project has been designed in a way thattakes avoidance and minimization measures into account, resulting in the leastamount of fragmented habitat possible. For example, turbines were clusteredtogether when feasible to decrease the amount of unconnected access roadsserving turbine locations.  Access roads were also, when feasible, sited alongexisting fence lines and hedge rows to avoid fragmenting large open field areasthat are potentially suitable breeding habitat for grassland birds and other avianspecies. In order to minimize habitat disturbance, most of the 34.5 kV electricalinterconnects between the turbines and the Project substation will be buriedalong access road ROWs.  Some interconnects may be either routed abovegroundor directionally drilled in order to span a sensitive or protected wetland feature. The significance of the temporary impacts would vary by habitat type.  Inhayfields and other herbaceous habitats, the impact of construction would berelatively minor and short-term because the herbaceous vegetation wouldregenerate quickly.  In forested and shrub habitats, the impact would be oflonger duration due to the longer regeneration period of these vegetative types.All efforts will be taken to avoid impacts to forested habitats. Project facilities would not be sited in, or require permanent modification toaquatic habitats, including the portions of Kents Creek, Three Mile Creek, or theChaumont River within the Project Area.  As there would be no disruption to theaquatic habitats within the Project boundary, the Project is not likely to adverselyaffect fish communities within, or downstream of, the Project Area.  Standardsediment and erosion control procedures would be used during construction toprevent sedimentation in the streambeds. For the 115 kV transmission line, which will connect the Project substation withthe Lyme substation, there were four alternate transmission line routingsevaluated.  For this study, an evaluation of potential impacts was performed forone of these corridors that extends approximately six miles east of the ProjectArea along the Old Railroad Grade to the existing electrical substation on the eastbank of the Chaumont River.  This abandoned railroad corridor has beenmaintained in a cleared condition, but passes through a matrix of agriculturalland, upland forests, shrubland, and wetlands.  The transmission line corridorwill span waterways throughout the Project Area; however, no poles would be  ERM-Southwest, Inc.Texas Registered Engineering Firm F-2393 116 sited within the streambeds avoiding temporary or permanent impacts to theseresources. Traffic and other human activities associated with the Project may result inlocalized and short-duration temporal behavioral disturbance to some wildlifespecies.  Traffic volumes associated with construction of the Project areanticipated to be 75 vehicles per turbine per day.  Many of the common wildlifespecies that occur in these areas are accustomed to disturbance (mowing,grazing, etc.).  These species will move away from the disturbed area duringconstruction, but would likely return following completion of the constructionactivities and restoration of the habitat.  It is commonplace to find such generalistspecies cohabitating with anthropogenic sources of disturbance.  In some cases,anthropogenic disturbance can even assist generalist species: cleared fields, forexample, can provide more foraging areas for raccoons, possums, and deer.  Thisimpact is not expected to significantly affect the viability of any wildlife species.  2.10.1.2  Permanent Impacts  Permanent impacts on wildlife habitat types and associated species that wouldresult from the operation and maintenance of the Project potentially include: ã permanent land use changes; ã elevated noise levels due to wind turbines and the electrical substation; ã permanent displacement of disturbance-sensitive wildlife species from theimmediate vicinities of Project facilities; and ã wildlife mortality due to interactions between animals and machinery duringoperations and maintenance activities. Projected traffic volume for operation of the Project is low relative to existingtraffic associated with roads and residential use in the area, and is notanticipated to have any discernable effect on local wildlife species. Project development will result in alteration of discrete portions of varioushabitats for wildlife species due to permanent conversion of disturbed andnatural habitats to developed land or utility ROW.  In particular, facilitycomponents such as roads and turbines may lead to some wildlife habitatfragmentation locally.  This is not considered a significant impact at CapeVincent, however, as the landscape within and surrounding the Project iscurrently heavily fragmented with numerous roads, low and medium densityhousing developments, farms, transmission lines, and other sources present. Removal of forest habitat and perch trees would eliminate perching and roostinghabitat for several species of raptors that are common to the region as well aswild turkey; however, displaced individuals would re-establish perches androosts in the remaining large undisturbed habitats in the Project Area.  Thedisturbance area footprint of wind projects is minor compared to the overall areain which the Project occurs.  Most of the resources available to birds in the ProjectArea remain unaffected and available for use after the Project is constructed.  ERM-Southwest, Inc.Texas Registered Engineering Firm F-2393 117 There is no information that supports the assumption that remaining intactperching, foraging, travel, or reproductive habitats or resources would not beavailable after the project is constructed and operating. Jefferson County is currently experiencing substantial growth in humanpopulation and housing developments, as evidenced by population and housinggrowth estimates in Fort Drum, where the number of soldiers, spouses, andother personnel moving to the Fort Drum area is projected to increase by nearly18,000 people between 2004 and 2013. To accommodate this population growth,the Department of Defense estimated in 2005 that an additional 2,000 homeswould need to be built off of the Fort Drum base over the coming years. 82 Due tothese and other development pressures, in the event that the Project is notconstructed, the current population and development growth trends willprobably result in the loss of current and traditional land uses for the area.  Thiswould result in fewer undeveloped open spaces and lower human densityconditions.  The Project, once constructed, will likely preclude additionalhousing developments and will result in less fragmented conditions whencompared to future scenarios without the development of the Project. For a discussion of the potential impact of the Project on avian and bat resources,refer to Section 2.11.  2.10.2   Threatened and Endangered Plant Species and Significant Ecological Habitats   Plant Species and Significant Ecological Communities  Five state-listed plant species (Table 2.9-1) and four significant ecologicalcommunities are located at, or in the vicinity of, the Project Area.  Projectfacilities would not be sited in, or require permanent modification to, these plantpopulations or ecological communities.  Thus, the Project is not expected to affectthese resources during the construction period or operation of the wind facility.  Lake Sturgeon  In the Project Area, lake sturgeon are known to occur in Lake Ontario, and riversand streams in the vicinity of Lyme. 83 Project facilities would not be sited in, orrequire permanent modification to aquatic habitats that could potentiallysupport Lake Sturgeon within the Project Area, including the portions of KentsCreek, Three Mile Creek, or the Chaumont River.  Due to the relative lack ofhabitat, range, or distribution within the Project Area, it is not anticipated thatthe Project will have adverse impact on Lake Sturgeon.  Additionally,development-related impacts resulting from the Project’s construction andoperations will be limited primarily to terrestrial ecosystems, with some impactsto wetlands.  Standard sediment and erosion control procedures would be usedduring construction to prevent sedimentation in the streambeds.   82 Installation Mission Growth Community Profile, Ft. Drum NY, November 2009, found athttp://www.oea.gov/OEAWeb.nsf/55A4C3C3FA792BB3852576C1005DA8FA/$File/drum_growth.pdf 83 NYNHP, 2007.
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